Meet Two Ethiopian Bible Translators with a 65-Year Love Story

Meet Two Ethiopian Bible Translators with a 65-Year Love Story

May 21, 2017


This post is from our “Legacy” series—a collection of inspiring stories from Seed Company’s past. While some content, facts, and stats may be outdated, the resounding impact of God’s Word endures.

In rural Ethiopia, God’s Word “sinks inside.”

Akway and Didumo, married for more than 65 years, work to bring the light of Christ to their people—the Anuak of Gambela. They have five children, 13 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Perseverance in their own marriage positions them to teach young believers in their region about God’s view of marriage. And that is the result of having Scripture in Anuak, their mother tongue.

“Young believers are learning from us and following God’s way,” Akway says. “Many of the believers’ marriages are now good because of what they learn from our relationship. They have come to know the biblical way of leading their family.

“I also teach the young in the church about marriage. I know this is the only way we can help them know God’s plan.”

Because God Speaks in Anuak

Akway gives all the credit to God for making his Word available in his language: “I would not have known all this if it were not for the Anuak Bible.”

Missionaries working in what is now South Sudan encountered people who spoke Anuak. Before arriving in Gambela in the 1950s, translation work for the Anuak Bible had already begun.

Two years into their marriage, Akway became a believer. He left his wife with her family so he could temporarily move to a place where missionaries could teach him the Bible.

“They used to tell us the Word of God in our own language. It is very important to read the Bible in one’s own language because it is understandable,” Akway says. “As you contemplate over it, it sinks inside; it helps me to evaluate my life.”

Letting Go of Cultural Tradition

After learning about Adam and Eve in Genesis, Akway sent word for Didumo, his wife, to come and live with him, a first step toward letting go of cultural tradition and embracing a life lived in God’s Word.

“From the Bible, I learned that God is the beginner of marriage. When he created the earth, he also created Adam and Eve. First Adam was alone, so God said it is not good for a man to be alone,” Akway shares.

Traditionally, wives were not allowed to sleep in the same room with their husbands, but Akway decided to change that when Didumo arrived. He also decided not to take another wife. He says choosing God’s way “added love and peace in our family.”

Didumo is the first local reverend ordained in Gambela. But earlier in their marriage, Akway confesses, there were challenges.

Like others in her community, she would get drunk and pass out on the ground, which is a sign of wealth in their culture. Akway’s relatives wanted him to divorce her. He refused and faithfully taught her what he was learning from God’s Word.

Choosing God’s Way Then, Now, and for Generations to Come

After 30 years of marriage, Didumo stopped drinking. “God totally changed her,” Akway rejoices.

Regarding the state of marriage, he says, “Marriage is being corrupted. Non-Christians divorce and remarry. Some unbelievers marry more than one wife. Others get drunk and beat their wives or go to other women and commit adultery. People get divorced in a few months. All these are signs of corruption of marriage.” Akway continues, “This is not the case for our community alone; I hear similar stories from different parts of the world. But believers do not divorce because they know that they are to be joined with their wives until death.”

Living their lives according to the Anuak Bible has allowed them to influence their family, their community, and the lives of their people for generations to come.

Close to 1,300 people groups, representing more than 40 million people, do not have a single verse of Scripture in their heart language. Seed Company exists to come alongside people groups like these to help resource and accelerate the Bible translation process. We invite families and churches to partner with us through prayer and financial investments.

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