The Nsenga Bible Translation Project
The Nsenga are a group of almost two million people who live in south-central Africa in the countries of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. There are many Nsenga Christians, and many Christian groups are active in mission and evangelism among the Nsenga people, including national Zambian churches, Lutherans, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Dutch Reformed, and others.
However, Nsenga-speaking Christians have to worship and read God’s Word in their second or third language, because there is no Nsenga Bible that is written in their native language, the language of their hearts. This means that many Nsenga who do not know a second language do not have access to the Bible at all. In addition, the teachings of the Bible are not always clearly understood in a second language, leaving many Nsenga in confusion about their faith and susceptible to influence from traditional African religious beliefs, such as witchcraft, spiritism, and sorcery.
Because of this need, Nsenga church and community leaders formed a committee to begin an Nsenga Bible Translation. They are working to find mother-tongue translators, reviewers, and helpers from the Nsenga-speaking churches in their areas.
Working through Wisconsin Synod Lutheran missionaries and pastors from the Lutheran Church of Central Africa, the Nsenga Bible Translation Committee invited Lutheran Bible Translators to partner with them in their work. LBT appointed Chris and Janine Pluger to serve as Translation Advisors to the Nsenga project. Because of their training in translation, theology, and linguistics, and Chris’ knowledge of the original languages of Scripture, the Plugers will be able to provide valuable guidance and assistance to the work.
Chris and Janine will first learn the Nsenga language, then work with mother-tongue speakers to produce a Bible that is both accurate and faithful to the original, as well as beautiful and clear in Nsenga. This project will be a team effort, with the Plugers and the Nsenga translators receiving technical support from the Bible Society of Zambia, logistical support from LBT and the Lutheran mission in Zambia, and financial and prayer support from many faithful mission-minded Christians across the United States.
This project will take many years to complete, but it is worth the effort. The goal is to not only put an Nsenga Bible in the people’s hands, but to help put God’s Word in the people’s hearts, so that the miracle of the first Pentecost might be repeated: “We hear the wonders of God in our own tongue!” (Acts 2: 11).