Luke begins his Gospel this way: "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word" (Luke 1:1-2 NIV). After 2,000-plus years, the Senga people have embraced the task of translating that life-giving Word of God given through Luke and those first eyewitnesses—orally. For the first time, the Senga can hear the Gospel message in their heart language.
120,000 Senga people reside in the tropical clime of Zambia, Africa. While parts of the Bible have been translated into nearby languages such as Chibemba, Senga speakers had never been able to listen to God speak in their mother tongue. Starting in 2019, Senga speakers began orally translating Luke's Gospel and then moved onto Acts. As they finished Acts in February 2021, Senga community members expressed a desire for more context for creation and God's character, leading to the start of translation of Genesis.
(Learn more about Oral Bible Translation.)
Even as they translate, the team is growing in their knowledge of Scripture and their fellowship with one another. One translator, a pastor, said, "My service to the community improves day by day because my faith is always growing." He explained that he can now use the Audio Bible as a form of counseling and encouragement when people come to him for advice and prayer: "I visited many families who suffered from nightmares. When I gave them the approved sets from the Gospel of Luke and Acts, they reported that because they listen to the Word of God before they sleep at night, they are free from the nightmares! Those who experienced demonic attacks are rejoicing—now, they dream of serving the Lord."
The Word of God is living and active in the Senga community! Community members listen regularly to a radio program that plays the approved passages of the Bible. Translated Scripture is being distributed on phones and shared on devices. Some team members use the audio to teach Sunday School classes, while others share with their friends and family. An older woman who tunes into the program on her cell phone explains that she never misses the opportunity to listen.
The team reports that the church community has embraced the Oral Bible Translation project. Several Senga chieftains were overjoyed when they received a Senga Audio Bible. One stated, "The Audio Bible allows the Senga to hear God's Word while they are at home, on the road, and everywhere. Many lives are changing as they receive Christ as their Savior."
Another team member commented: "A community reviewer received the approved audio sets. He told us that the church where he worships requested that they always play the sets from his phone during the service so that people can understand God's Word in their own language. People want the Senga Bible more than a Bible in a foreign language. We pray that this hunger for the Word will keep growing so that Jesus can rule in people's hearts."
"Many people buy USB sticks and memory cards and bring them to share the approved sets with others," a translator told us. "They are full of joy in the Lord because of the Word of God that they hear in their language.
"That's not all, though! Since we started translating the book of Genesis, my fellow translators have confessed how God has touched their lives. They say they have begun to understand God's Word at a deeper level. Each time we perform a peer review, deliverance takes place in the life of each translator. We always leave the office transformed, encouraged, renewed, and prayerful."
A big smile shone on one pastor’s face. "I have never enjoyed my work as much as I am enjoying it now. The Senga community have lived without the Word of God in their language since it was first preached on Earth—but no longer. To God be the glory!"
The urgent desire to see the last people groups receive the Gospel in their heart languages continues to grow. Oral Bible Translation projects are in great demand, given that the methodology has been accepted by the worldwide translation community. It is clear that God is graciously preparing the hearts of oral people worldwide to hear His truth and come to Him. They will be counted among those standing before Christ's throne on the last day, just as He promised.
More oral communities like the Senga still wait to hear the truth of God's Word in their heart language. You can provide it to them. Support the recording and provision of Audio Bibles in more languages.