I’m not quite old enough to remember, but I know there was a time when worship services were still offered in German at the church my family attended. People took pride in their heritage and worshipping in the language they understood best made the experience more meaningful. Their deep-rooted faith and conviction of God’s love brought a sense of self-worth that continued after the use of German for worship eventually ended. Ensuing generations still celebrate German culture and traditions.
If you’re part of such a history and heritage it makes it hard to imagine what it would be like to be ashamed of who you are as a people. You may recall reading about the Kwanja people of Cameroon. They took no pride in their culture or their language. They’d been exploited by other tribes for decades and were ashamed that they were unable to stand up to their stronger neighbors. Some of the Kwanja even felt they were lower than animals. To speak Kwanja invited ridicule and many young people refused to use it.
That is, until the day a priest visited them and told them that God loved them, and their lives were precious to Him. The priest appealed to the Cameroon government on behalf of the Kwanja, asking for intervention to stop the oppression and discrimination. Attitudes gradually changed as the Kwanja grew in self-esteem and self-confidence.
By the 1980s, the Kwanja community was ready to partner with missionaries from LBT to translate the New Testament into their language. Today a transformed people has access to numerous Scripture resources and is working to translate the Old Testament. A growing literacy movement means all Kwanja, from young to old, can read God’s Word in their own language.
It’s easy to underestimate the power of Scripture when we ourselves have known the love of God for generations. Yes, the Kwanja people still suffer the stress, temptations, and difficulties of everyday life. But now they, like us, can turn to Jesus for strength and hope in the face of all challenges. And they take pride in who they are: cherished children of God, with their own unique heritage and language.
The prayers and gifts of many partners over many years brought God’s Word to the Kwanja. You can bring Scripture to those who are still waiting for the Bible in their languages. Click here to learn more.
Excellent story Linda!