Hard Work

story Rachel Greco

Photo by: Rachel Greco: Two translators working diligently in TTC 1

Inside dozens of heads, brains busily transform language into the words of their home and heart. These translators have traveled many miles to study at the Translator Training Courses (TTC) 1&2. There they study Bible history, culture, and grammar. They learn how to translate so their people can see the full beauty of His Word, clear and precise in their own language.

Each of these translators has a unique story of how God led him or her into this important work. Kika Rava, from the Kalo language group in Central Province, shared a little bit of her testimony of how she became a translator: “I had been teaching in our church children’s ministry for more than 27 years. So I thought that this was my ministry, but what I didn’t know was that God would call me to a new thing at this stage of my life.”

“I had a dream in 2006 where the sky opened and two people came down from heaven, a female and a male. I could feel the presence of God upon on me, and it was a very holy moment. When I woke up I told my husband, ‘I had a vision.’ He said, ‘Maybe God has something to tell you, but it will be very hard.’”

The next year I joined the Kalo Bible translation team doing translation work and it is very hard, as my husband predicted, but here I am, thankful to God for the opportunity to serve my people through the work of Bible translation. Now, as I have worked through TTC 2, it has been very hard for me once again, but I know that the Lord is with me and I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Though the work is difficult for these translators, they know that the Lord himself called them into this work, and he will hold their hands every step of the way. Through training, perseverance, and reliance on God’s strength, they will complete the task of translating God’s Word into their heart language.

Pigs and Sheep

Story by Rachel Greco, photo by Karen Weaver

To the Kasua people of Western Province, every four-legged animal is a pig. They call a horse a pig-horse, a cow, a pig-cow, and a sheep, a pig-sheep, because all of these animals have four legs, which is kopolo, or pig, in their language.

When the translation team would translate the word, ‘sheep’ in the New Testament, they would translate it as ‘pig-sheep’. So when Jesus is referred to as the ‘Lamb,’ (John 1:29; Rev. 12:11; Rev. 17:14), they translated as ‘pig-sheep’ so that in John 1:29 it would read: “Behold, the pig-sheep of God.”

When some members of the translation team attended the Translators Training Course, they had the opportunity to observe and study sheep for the first time. As they watched and learned more about the animals’ behavior, their understanding of these creatures—and God’s Word—rotated on its axis.

Once during the course, Logan and Konni—the translation team’s helpers—were driving with the team to a Bible dedication when Amos, one of the team members, said passionately, “We can’t use the word kopolo in front of the word, ‘sheep’! Pigs know when they’re about to die and squeal and scream.” The team had often watched villagers tie up pigs so they wouldn’t escape.

“But,” Amos said, “Jesus didn’t do that.” The team had learned that sheep are quiet and still when death walks toward them. They had observed, as they translated the New Testament, the words of Isaiah 53 fulfilled: “Like a lamb led to the slaughter, he did not open his mouth.” And now they understood what it meant. For this reason, the team decided not to put pig-sheep in the New Testament for the word ‘sheep,’ but used sheep-animal or, in their language, a:pele sipi.

The Kasua translation team also chose to discard the word ‘pig’ before sheep because pigs are unclean animals to the Jews. The team knew that Jesus was called the ‘Lamb of God’ in the New Testament to show that he is unblemished and clean. Hopefully the Lord will open up the Kasua villagers’ eyes to these same truths about Jesus as they read of Him in their own language.