Every country has languages of prestige and influence. Shekgalagari—the primary language of about 200,000 people in Botswana and Namibia—is neither prestigious nor influential. Until Lutheran Bible Translators began to work with them, the Shekgalagari had no direct access to the Word of God.
During a visit to Botswana in the early 1990s Jim Laesch showed a government officer named Mautlhe a recently published Grebo New Testament from Liberia. “This language was never written before?” asked Mautlhe. “No,” Jim explained. “These people only now have God’s Word in their own language.” Mautlhe, a Shekgalagari speaker replied, “This is what my people need.”
Lutheran Bible Translators first sent missionaries to live in the Kgalagari region—where the language is most vibrant—in 2009. Since then, strong local vision and leadership has united the far-flung Shekgalagari community and churches around language development. In 2013, the local project committee partnered with Lutheran Bible Translators and the Bible Society of Botswana to hire and train translation staff.
In its first three-year cycle a small dictionary, a book of Sunday School memory verses, and texts for use at funerals were published by the project. The Gospel of Luke in both print and audio formats was produced. Since then the translation team has drafted and community checked most of the New Testament and plans to publish and launch it in print and audio formats by 2020.
Complete the consultant checking of the New Testament.
Record the New Testament in audio format.
Community testing improves understandability through feedback.
The community takes more ownership of the translation through testing.
Several of the original founding members of the project’s leadership committee have gone to be with the Lord. Pray that new leadership will continue to arise and encourage the team and community.
Pray for skill and wisdom for Pontsho and Tshwari as they craft the translation and interface with the community to refine it, that it will be accurate, beautiful, and clear in the Shekgalagari language.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to prepare the hearts of the Bakgalagari community to receive the Word in their heart language.
Help bring the Shekgalagari language community Scripture in the language that speaks most deeply to their hearts. The area Christian churches anxiously await the arrival of the full New Testament to give them the tools they need for personal spiritual enrichment as well as effective outreach to their people.
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