When a book considered as important or sacred, such as the Bible, is translated into a language that has no other written material, the whole community reads and discusses it. Therefore, often testimonies of people who are not yet Christian emerge as they read the Bible in their mother tongue. They initially read it not because of the content, but because they are interested to see something written in their language. However, once they start reading it, many of them come to Christ as the Word starts taking root in their hearts. God continues to use his ancient writings to transform the fabric of societies in our modern age. There is no better evangelizing tool than the Word of God in a person’s heart language!
One such society that has seen the transformation that comes from Bible translation is the Yao of Tanzania. The translation of the Yao Bible is 21% complete. The Old Testament is 4% complete and the New Testament is 77% complete. The Yao Bible translation project is helping around 520,000 people in Tanzania to have Scripture in their own language.
In the small village of Muhesi, Tanzania, the book of Acts brought blessing, unity and love to the Yao community. According to the testimony of some leaders, the Bible in their heart language gave them a sound foundation. Before receiving the book of Acts, they had no understanding of God’s love for all people. The message of Christ they received gave them direction and hope. The Bible has given the Yao speaking people of Muhesi Village the strength to face many challenges.
One challenge in this village involves religious tensions. Many of the people in this area are not Christians, but Muslims. Even Muslims in Tanzania are overjoyed at receiving the Bible in their heart language! They recognize Jesus as a great prophet, and the Yao Bible helps them see him as Savior. “This is what we need to read!” said one Muslim man in the community.
“This is what we like to see. As you know, we are Muslim. We know that some of our Muslim family and neighbors have become Christians because of this Book. Now that we have seen [books of the Bible] published in Yao, we want to see more printed in our language.”
The testimony of the Yao people shows how translating the Bible not only has an impact on the individuals reading the Word, but also on reconciling the community as a whole.
Subscribe to the illumiNations Newsletter