The Rendille People Reach for God’s Word with Outstretched Arms

The Rendille People Reach for God’s Word with Outstretched Arms

August 10, 2019

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In the remote desert of Northern Kenya, the Rendille people look to the camel as the symbol of life. Used for transport, milk, wool, leather, and occasionally, for meat, camels are vital to their survival. And on August 18, 2018, it was no different.

But this time, the very Word of Life rode in on their backs.

Rendille woman in traditional dress walking with camel with parcels on its back
A Rendille woman walks alongside a camel carrying God’s Word in her language

Laden with large boxes wrapped in shiny red paper, these special camels seemed to wear grins as broad as their parcels. It’s as if they knew—marching into the village amidst dancing, cheering, chanting, and singing—that this was a celebration years in the making. Now the dedication of the Rendille New Testament could finally begin!

Rendille woman in traditional dress clutches Bible to chest and singsRendille women in traditional dress celebrate, sing, and dance

Translators don’t wait until the whole Bible is done to start giving God’s Word to people in their heart language. People need it now! That means whenever portions of Scripture are completed and checked, they are distributed.

The Rendille celebrated not only the arrival of God’s Word, but also God’s faithfulness to the project.

Laban joined the team in 1981, but in 1984, a devastating famine hit the community and forced them to set aside the translation. As it was, older methods of translation took several years to complete, so any added delays left the people more than frustrated.

But Laban never lost hope.

“It’s a call that was in me. I could have left a long time ago, but because I had the desire that I needed to serve the Lord, to see that my community would have the Word of God for themselves… that’s what kept me going,” Laban remembers.

Rendille Bible translator Laban

In 2015, Seed Company partnered with Laban and the Rendille translators to accelerate the completion of the project. Now, Laban uses Rendille Scripture in every aspect of life. He uses it to meditate and preach. He also writes music, and God’s Word is his inspiration. He continues to lead translation projects for his people and recently began work on five books of the Old Testament.

The Rendille Church eagerly anticipates the spiritual growth that will come with the availability of more Scripture.

Imagine a subtle, percussive hum off in the distance, building into a gritty chant filling the atmosphere. You are awash in tears and smiles as outstretched arms receive God’s Word for the first time. It’s hard to describe such an event; one must be immersed in it and experience it.

Watch the Rendille New Testament Celebration:

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