Nigerian Christians find renewed passion through heart language translations.
In West Africa, three language communities—Ikpeshi, Okpe, and Ososo—are part of a cluster project. Christianity was introduced to the Akoko-Edo Cluster decades ago, but the people have faced an existence without Scripture in their heart language.
In answer to prayer, local believers pioneered a pilot program to translate the Bible into their native language, setting the ambitious goal of completing the New Testament and translating the “JESUS” film in three years.
Historically, this would take closer to 10 years!
But now, by God’s grace, these communities will have access to First Scripture—that is, the first Scripture available to them in their heart language—by the end of 2024. And the effects are already impossible to ignore.
Ososo “JESUS” Film Provides Outreach Opportunity
After the translation and audio dubbing work was completed, the “JESUS” film in Ososo premiered at the town hall. According to Emmanuel, the lead translator for the Ososo team, the film “[took] the town by storm,” and attracted both Ososo Christians and nonbelievers alike. Even the queen of the community and a high-ranking air force officer made appearances!
Since the premiere, local Christians have been eager to share with their friends and family members who haven’t yet responded to the gospel. Emmanuel said, “Within a week, we exhausted the 200 DVDs allocated to us.” In response to the demand from both believers and nonbelievers, they had to acquire additional copies.
A local church made plans to show the film again, inviting leaders from across the denominational spectrum. Those involved in the planning are hopeful that the film will encourage all the congregations in the area to come together in loving and serving one another.
Emmanuel sees the success of the film as evidence of God’s love and favor: “God is with us, supporting and encouraging our efforts,” he said.
Ikpeshi Translation Sparks Curiosity in Locals
Daniel, the project coordinator for the Ikpeshi translation team, shared that after the “JESUS” film was dedicated and released, many “gave their lives to Christ and had more interest in knowing about him.”
Indeed, the availability of a film in the Ikpeshi language has caused a stir, capturing the interest of many. The various churches hoped for such a reaction when they agreed to work together to mobilize their people to distribute copies of the New Testament.
The film has even generated volunteers who want to help the team complete the translation. Daniel asked for prayers, that God would give everyone involved “sound health, wisdom, understanding, and more unity.”
Okpe Translation Forges New Bonds
The Okpe people have maintained peaceful relations across their shared borders with four other language groups. Yet, the various Christian ministries within the Okpe territory have often struggled to work harmoniously together. The launch of the translation project and the prospect of a New Testament in their language has helped ease tension and facilitate cooperation, broadening their vision for what is possible when they work together.
Mrs. Aiyede, the project coordinator for the Okpe team, explained it this way: “Before now, Christian organizations and churches were not united because of doctrinal differences.” Outreach events were seldom attended or promoted by anyone outside the individual ministries running the event.
But a change is stirring. Translation team members have been selected from a variety of churches and denominations, increasing representation and insight for each community. As a result, skepticism among the leaders has dwindled. Mrs. Aiyede wrote that as “they see that we are working together, they are becoming united.”
The unity despite differences is also inspiring the next generation to pay attention to the translation work. Many young people do not live in the traditional Okpe territory, but their location in a nearby town with better internet infrastructure could be key to future success.
Pray for Continued Success
Without fail, providing people with Scripture and resources like the “JESUS” film in their heart languages brings about the kind of radical transformation that ignites hearts. Seed Company is honored to come alongside a community to produce God’s Word in their language, igniting a chain-reaction of impact that furthers the Great Commission.
Please pray for the people in the Akoko-Edo Cluster. And ask God to continue showering them with evidence of his grace.