What do you think of when you hear someone mention All Saints’ Day? Is it the classic hymn “For All the Saints Who from Their Labors Rest”? Or perhaps you remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us in the well fought fight. Or do you think about the global Church – all celebrating together as one Body?
This All Saints’ Day, Lutheran Bible Translators invites you to celebrate with your Komba brothers and sisters in Christ as they dedicate the translation of God’s Word into their heart language. The Komba (Likɔɔnl) New Testament translation and literacy projects have been an ongoing effort of collaboration between the Komba (Bikɔɔm) people and LBT (the Esala and Federwitz families) for the past eleven years.
In our last post about the Komba New Testament dedication, we featured an anecdote from Rev. Nathan Esala, called “Foxes and Rabbits.” The story witnessed to the fact that the translation effort is a collaborative one. LBT does not make decisions without consulting the Komba language committee and vice versa; it is a system of checks and balances. Everyone views the project as an investment, including the non-Christian groups in the community.
In December of 2004, KOLIBITRAP (Komba Literacy and Bible Translation Project) was formed as a community-based committee. Everyone wanted to be involved in Komba literacy – including Muslims and traditional believers. The Bible translation process is highly respected amongst non-Christians, who recognize the Bible as a highly valuable academic and/or linguistic book to access in their heart language. So although Scripture engagement materials remain an exclusively Christian effort, the literacy and Bible translation work has opened up doors for proclaiming the truth of the Gospel to the Komba community – Christians and non-Christians, alike – in their heart language.
In addition to the literacy and translation involvement of KOLIBITRAP, the committee has held an annual harvest day, which acts as a gathering of chiefs and leaders of high standing in the community. At the gathering, the communities bring contributions to the KOLIBITRAP literacy effort. Although there are some cash donations, the contributions most often come in the form of grain (corn, millet, and peanuts) after their harvest. KOLIBITRAP then keeps the grain to sell at a premium in the market 8-10 months later. By delaying the sale of the contributions given to them, they are able to earn a profit! By holding these annual harvest days, KOLIBITRAP’s literacy effort has become more self-sustaining. In fact, they have been able to build an office building with four offices and a classroom, which will be used to host teacher training workshops. The office has been built with cement blocks, which means that it will last longer, so the learning and collaborative efforts now have a permanent place of residency in the community!
On November 1st, the dedication will be held for everyone – it is a community event! Politicians, African leaders, Muslims, African traditionalists, and Christians will all be gathered to celebrate the completion and printing of the New Testament. Everyone is excited that their heart language has been written down (and in such an important book as the Bible)!
For the non-Christians, it is a source of cultural pride; with the Bible translated into their own language, they are announcing their individual identity as Komba people. They will not have to read the Bible in English, Konkomba, or in any tongue that is not their heart language. They are human beings who are worthy of hearing and being heard!
For the Komba Christian community, there is much to celebrate this All Saints’ Day. God’s Word will be accessible to them in the language of their hearts. The Word will be proclaimed, heard, and understood. Now the Komba can truly feel part of the community of saints, those from every nation and people who will stand before the throne in the presence of our Savior. And those saints who have gone before us must surely be celebrating that one more nation, language and tongue is being recognized here on earth as it is in heaven.
Please keep the Komba people in your prayers as they receive the New Testament. For our fellow believers that they grow in faith and wisdom with God’s Word now accessible to them. Pray for those who do not yet know the saving power of the Gospel, that the Holy Spirit works in them so that they might hear and truly understand.