Most of the Soli people of Zambia were skeptical. Some asked themselves, ‘Can these local Soli men really translate this holy Book? Won’t God abandon us and forget about us?’ How could God speak their language? But, the first time the Soli New Testament was read publicly, a moment of intense silence instantly struck the crowd as a palpable spirit of understanding, astonishment and joy spread like a wildfire among the gathered Soli people. In this moment, their skepticism and the astonished silence gave way to the most jubilant and resounding cheers as God made it abundantly clear, “Yes, God speaks Soli too!”
In 2018, the Soli translation team published and distributed the New Testament to the estimated 34,000 Soli speaking people who live in Central Zambia, east of the capital city of Lusaka. The picturesque area with rolling hills, several rivers, and some mountains creates a romantic picture like an oasis. The beauty belies the difficulties the translation team has experienced. Several of the original team members have passed away. The grief the other translators and the Soli community have experienced make their hearts heavy. They also have ‘counted the cost’ more than many others and the Spirit has rewarded them with joy. Since launching the New Testament, the Soli people can give glory to God for the beauty of their surroundings and for the hope from the Gospel message in their hearts!
Her Royal Highness, Chieftainess Mukamabo the Second, and the Soli people under her from the district of Chongwe were excited to receive the New Testament Bibles in the Soli language. They have read and discussed at length in the 2 years since having access to the New Testament the Scriptures. In a recent visit, the translators came across the village headmen [the leader of the village] who asked, ‘When will the Old testament be finished? We would like to have the full Bible, because each time we read the New Testament in Soli, we hear God speaking to us directly.’ He continued to say that in his village a lot of people are being converted to Christ because of the Soli Bible they received. Furthermore, a chair-lady for the women’s group testified that the marriages in the community have been strengthened due to many husbands who have resolved to turn to Christ because of the Word of God in their community.
The Soli translators find comfort and joy in the Scriptures they translate. They take the book of James’ words to heart, as all believers can, ‘My brothers and sisters,[b] whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.’ (James 1:2-4, NRSV)
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