Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation Celebrates 60 Years

Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation Celebrates 60 Years

February 1, 2023

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What started as a student’s dream has grown to reach millions

A key Seed Company partner—Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation (GILLBT)—recently celebrated its 60–year anniversary! Experience the joy in our brothers’ and sisters’ hearts as you watch their opening praise celebration:

Seed Company’s relationship with GILLBT goes back to our earliest days. Over the years, their executive director, Sylvester Kwame Nkrumah (known by many as simply “Kwame”), has spoken at multiple Seed Company events. He helped with translation consulting for the Paasaal language, one of Seed Company’s original 10 projects, and would later work with Seed Company to finish the New Testament in his own heart language of Delo!

In honor of GILLBTs 60th anniversary, we pause to praise God for the work that’s been done through them. We also ask his blessing for the work that continues.

 

How GILLBT Began

In the early 60s, a student from Ghana named John Agamah learned about Wycliffe Bible Translators while studying in Great Britain. He implored Wycliffe to send translators to his home country, and the first staff arrived in 1962. 

By 1976, a complete New Testament had been produced in Kusaal, one of many languages spoken in Ghana. This was the birth of what would become the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation (GILLBT). 

 

God’s Faithfulness Through the Years

Since its start, GILLBT has seen incredible progress toward the goal of translating the Bible into every Ghanaian language. Since their founding and the completion of the Kusaal New Testament, GILLBT has translated God’s Word into 35 Ghanaian languages, including complete New Testaments in 20 languages and full Bibles in 14. Today, they are working in 42 different languages! 

GILLBT and other partner organizations ran a kind of experiment. They poured time and resources into Ghanaians to power Bible translation efforts. Executive Director Kwame shares:

“When you invest in the local people to do Bible translation, you are accelerating Bible translation.” 

The results of the experiment speak volumes: the work to begin Scripture translation in every Ghanaian language is now nearing completion! According to the GILLBT website, there are only 7 remaining Ghanaian languages that haven’t yet begun translation, and they have plans for reaching them in the next few years.

Kwame speaking at Digo New Testament dedication celebration
Kwame speaking at Digo New Testament dedication celebration

 

From Ghana to the Entire African Continent

Thankfully, our partners at GILLBT don’t see their own country as the end of their mission. “We want to finish the work in Ghana and move on to other places. That is the vision,” Kwame explains.

They’ve been working to mobilize people in other African nations, extending their reach to the rest of the continent. They’re equipping people to handle projects in their own nations and languages, even in areas where African Traditional Religion is prevalent or where ethnic conflict presents obstacles to Bible translation. 

Partnering with GILLBT allows us to fan the flames of grassroots Bible translation organizations not only in Ghana but throughout the rest of Africa.

 

Take Time to Pray

As we celebrate 60 years of God’s goodness to Ghana through GILLBT, we ask that you join us in prayer:

  • Ask God to raise up more translation consultants and increase coordination across national and organizational boundaries throughout the African continent.   
  • Ask God to provide the finances, strategy, and people to begin Bible translation in all remaining Bibleless Ghanaian languages.
  • Ask God to protect Bible translators in conflict zones throughout the African countries in which GILLBT is looking to expand its reach. Some translators can’t even live in the country for which they labor.
  • Pray for freedom from African Traditional Religion, in which many people—even some who identify as Christians—practice ancestor worship and animal sacrifices.

 

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