Goma Translation Team

The dedication of three men in the Democratic Republic of Congo

By Bess Brownlee

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is home to many languages. French, Lingala, Swahili, Kikongo, and Chitembo are some of the most widely spoken. For over a decade, three Congolese men–Masumbuko, Ndeshibire, and Mwanijale, known as the “Goma Trio”–have been working in partnership with SIL to translate the Bible into the Chitembo language, a dialect spoken by more than 800,000 people.

The Goma trio began translating the Bible into Chitembo in 2002 and are hoping to have the whole New Testament finished by 2016. They hope the church in the Goma area, where most Chitembo speakers live, will embrace this new translation of the Bible and use it in their services and meetings and that pastors will take part in passing the new translation on to their congregants.

The trio utilizes the library at Shalom University in Bunia, DRC, where one of their team members is a student. One day, their Chitembo Bible translation may rest on these shelves.

SIL has provided them with training, books, and computers to aid in the process. The trio bounce ideas off of other students and seek the guidance of professors at the school.

Sarah, a teacher with SIL, teaches in the translation department at the university and works closely with the Goma translation team as they continue their work.

The Goma area is a place deeply affected by violence and strife. Translation had been underway for two years when the trio had to evacuate Goma, where they are now continuing their work. The team hopes this new Chitembo Bible translation will help bring transformation to the area and to Chitembo speakers.

Many speakers of Chitembo are illiterate, so the Bible is read out loud to them during church gatherings. The trio hopes the word of God will become more real and meaningful to their people once they can hear it in their heart language.

For more information, email tembo_project@sil.org or visit www.sil.org

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