In 1984, TWFTW began supporting the Chikunda Bible translation project in Zimbabwe. While on paper this project has taken much longer to complete than other translations, the hope and joy that the Word of God infuses into the Chikunda people’s society has not diminished. This project also documents how much time and energy it takes for language groups to commit to having the Bible in their language. In the 1980s, the son of the Chikunda chief volunteered to take on the task of translating the Bible into Chikunda. This one-man translation ‘team’ set about earning educational degrees and credentials to begin the translation process with TWFTW. In the beginning, he wrote out the translation by hand because computers were still new technology and he was not familiar with them. Eventually becoming a full-time pastor limited how much time he could spend translating. Fast forward to 2009, and the New Testament finally launched with joyous celebration in the Chikunda language!
Now the Chikunda Bible Translation Project has more than one man working. The 4-person team continues translation work on the Old Testament and working on finishing the Jesus Film in Chikunda. After recording for the film the story in the Gospel accounts about Jesus asking Peter to give him the boat so that he can preach to the crowd, the Jesus Film team says, ‘We decided to have a real experience of getting into a boat. Not in the Jordan River; but in the mighty Zambezi River!’
Recreating biblical stories helps connect people to the reality of Jesus’ life and how the Word of God relates to the cultures of today. The excitement among the Chikunda people grows as they anticipate seeing the Gospel of Luke on film in their heart language—something they only dreamed of happening in the past!
The translation team has completed a draft of all the Old Testament books, and those translated Scriptures have been reviewed by mother tongue Chikunda speakers. The team continues to work with consultants to ensure the accuracy and quality of the translations to the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.
While the Chikunda speaking people eagerly await all of the Scriptures in their language, the Spirit of God testifies in the hearts of people about God’s great love for them. Moses Kaputi, a middle-aged man from a Chikunda speaking community, says, ‘Before we had this New Testament in Chikunda, we would try to guess from the Shona translated Bible [Shona is the common language in Zimbabwe] what God would say to us. Now that we have the Chikunda New Testament, we hear God speaking Chikunda, and we can understand Him! God is not only for the white people or the Shona people; but God is also for the Chikunda people!’
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