Congo Bible Dedication Caps Decades of Translation Work

By Pete Ekstrand

GEMENA, DR CONGO (January 12, 2015) — The Mbandja translation of the Bible was dedicated during two recent ceremonies, which capped 32 years of work.

Pastor Goma Mabele shares the history of the Mbandja Bible translation
Pastor Goma Mabele shares the history of the Mbandja Bible translation.

It is the thirty-second completed translation in a country with 215 languages. Many members of the Covenant Church of Congo (CEUM) are of the Mbandja people. Former President Luyada is from this ethnic group.

The celebrations were held in the days leading up to Christmas. The first was held at Yakamba, southwest of Gemena, and the second was held in Gbado-Gboketsa Northeast of Gemena.

During the celebrations, people were reminded of the history of the translation and exhorted to put the Bible to work in their own lives and to help share the gospel.

The project started when Larry and Cami Robbins, missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators, arrived at Kala and began linguistic analysis of the language. During their three years in Congo they completed the Gospel of Mark.

Translation of the full New Testament didn’t start until 1989 and was completed in 2001. The Old Testament was completed in 2010. The dedication was delayed due, in part, to diligent checking of the translation and the time and funding needed to print the Bible.

Representatives of the CEUM, Evangelical Free, and Catholic churches headed up the project. There are Protestant and Catholic translations of the Bible with the latter including the Apocrypha.

The lead translator was Rev. Goma Mabele, of the CEUM.

Evangelical Covenant Church missionary Ken Satterberg and former Covenant missionary Galen Johnson also helped with the project at various times. Johnson is now coordinator for Francophone ministries of The Seed Company.

For more photos of the event, click here.

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