Botswana | Kalanga New Testament & Psalms (2009 revised)
850,000 Kalanga speaking people live in a vast swath of lands crossing northern Botswana and Zimbabwe. For them, this revised New Testament and Psalms offers an opportunity for religious discovery and growth as well for greater awareness and self identity.
A celebration of faith…A victory for the Kalanga people
For some, the dedication and celebration of the revised Kalanga language New Testament and Psalms is a victory for the Kalanga people, both religiously and socially. Others say the dedication celebrates faith and Jesus. Still others compare the dedication and celebration to the first Pentecost.
Some missionaries regard the dedication as a preview, a vision for the future, of what they can someday accomplish in Africa, with God’s help.
More than a thousand people assembled for the celebration in a beautiful tent decorated with sweeping white banners erected near a soccer field in Francistown, Botswana. Various parts of the dedication ceremony were conducted in different languages—Greek, Hebrew, English, Setswana, and Kalanga. “As I heard the various languages being spoken, heard God praised in so many different tongues, I thought back to the first Pentecost in Jerusalem where God gave the Apostles the gift of tongues to spread His Word,” said Jim Laesch, LBT’s Associate Director for Language Programs.
“It was a day for Jesus and the Kalanga community,” said LBT missionary Rev. Michael Megahan, who attended the dedication with his wife, Jo Ann. The Megahans are working with the translation team on a Kalanga Old Testament. “We’re about 50 percent done,” he said. “With God’s help, we should be able to complete the remaining work in another five years.”
Individuals and dignitaries central to translation and printing efforts received complimentary copies of the revised New Testament and Psalms. Many joyfully raised God’s Word high over their heads and danced back to their seats. Others lined up to purchase copies for themselves and for their families.
Seeds from millet plants, a locally grown grain and basic food, were cast over the assembly as a symbol of how God’s Word is broadcast among the people of the world. “The Kalanga people are using God’s Word to teach themselves and their children about God’s plan for us,” said Carl and Melody Knight, retired LBT missionaries to Botswana.
The Knights worked alongside Sunday school teachers, developing teaching materials to accompany Scripture in a number of local heart languages, including Kalanga. “It’s important for the people to take God’s Word home, read it, apply it in their everyday lives, and raise their children with it, rather than just letting it sit on a shelf.”
Rev. Rich Rudowske, his wife Maya, and their five children are new LBT missionaries to Botswana. They are learning Setswana, the national language of Botswana, in preparation for long term service among the Kgalagari people on the edge of the Kalahari desert, in the village of Kang.
“I was thrilled to be a part of this great day for the Kalanga people,” Maya Rudowske said. “It gave us a very real picture of what we hope to be part of one day with the Kgalagari.”
“I was moved by the expressions of joy many displayed when they received their Bibles,” Rich shared. “Some shouted, some danced for joy, others gave speeches, and all were obviously thrilled to have God’s Word in their hands, in their heart language.”
The Kalanga people are using God’s Word to teach themselves and their children about God’s plan for us. It’s important for the people to take God’s Word home, read it, apply it in their everyday lives, and raise their children up with it rather than just letting it sit on a shelf.