Cameroon | Vuté New Testament (2007)
A Dance of Victory: Vuté New Testament Dedicated
For the first time, the Vuté people in Cameroon have their own New Testament. They can now read and hear the Good News of salvation in their heart language and share it with others.
In early December of 2007, Vuté leaders, government officials, and a broad spectrum of local and national religious representatives joined with LBT missionaries and others to celebrate the completion and initial distribution of the Vuté New Testament.
Held in Yoko, the political center of the Vuté people, the celebration lasted for several days and involved nearly 1,000 people. There were feasts, dances, sermons, speeches, processions, and drummers. Brightly-dressed women danced, sang, and laid tapestries and cloths on the ground over which the newly arrived New Testaments were carried.
“I am dancing a dance of victory! I am happy,” Vuté pastor Pierre Songsaré told local chiefs and dignitaries. “Now my people know true freedom. We can more easily enter into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ because now we have a Bible we can understand in our language.”
In many ways, Rev. Songsaré can be seen as the father of the Vuté translation work. He was instrumental in initiating the project 37 years ago. He asked for a Vuté Bible, then shepherded and coordinated a wide range of translation and translation-related efforts to see the New Testament through to completion.
This is the 28th New Testament that LBT missionaries have helped translate and publish. LBT missionaries have served as advisors, coordinators, and consultants to national churches and working with local translators. “Now Vuté-speaking pastors and laypeople can begin the next important step,” said then-Executive Director of LBT Dr. Marshall Gillam, “spreading God’s Word using their mother tongue, their heart language, to strengthen their faith, to bring others to faith, and to expand literacy.”
James Maxey is the LBT missionary and translation consultant. He and his family moved to Cameroon in 1991. They have spent most of their time working towards completing the Vuté New Testament.
“Our family grew up with the Vuté people, working with them on this New Testament,” James said. “We’re in awe of what God has done here, of this physical proof of God’s unequivocal love for these people and of His daily presence in their lives. For a period of time, we were a central part of the translation process. Now the Vuté people have completed this New Testament, and we are part of the throng of celebrants.”
Cameroon, located in central Africa, is about the size of California. Its population of more than 18 million people is about 40 percent Christian and 20 percent Muslim. The remaining 40 percent practice traditional beliefs. Initially respected for their hunting skills, the Vuté people, who emigrated from Nigeria, are now primarily subsistence farmers. They grow and eat cassava, corn and sweet potatoes. There are between 35,000 and 50,000 Vuté speakers.
“The Christian Vuté community now has a clear, articulate Gospel to build and broaden their community of faith,” said Rev. Walt DeMoss, LBT’s retiring Director of Program Ministries. “Now the Scripture Use and literacy work can proceed at a faster pace.”
The story continues
“The New Testament is not the end of the Vuté project. When the Spirit of God has written the Word of God on every Vuté heart, then the project is complete! And we will all say, to God be the glory!” said Dr. Gillam.
“As use of this Vuté New Testament spreads, it’s a concrete demonstration of God’s promise and desire to reach all nations with the message of Christ,” James added. “Culturally, the widespread use of this New Testament, and a growing opportunity to speak, read and write the Vuté language, is a way for these people to preserve their identity while becoming more integrated into the needs and demands of a global society. Theologically, it shows how various churches and civil organizations, dedicated to working together over time can help a people develop and grow in faith to worship Christ and to meet their needs.”
The New Testament is not the end of the Vuté project. When the Spirit of God has written the Word of God on every Vuté heart, then the project is complete! And we will all say, to God be the glory!