In the days leading up to the dedication of their New Testament, the Keliko people of South Sudan joyfully sang the words of Psalm 66:5 with a sense of victory: “Come and see what the Lord has done.”
The church and translation team have overcome many obstacles to complete their 33-year translation project — trials, loss, displacement. Even when renewed civil unrest in 2016 forced them to relocate to refugee settlements in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, they pressed on to completion.
Keliko was the 1,000th New Testament completed with the engagement of Wycliffe USA and SIL International — a primary strategic partner.
A few days before the dedication, a special church service was held at the Imvepi refugee settlement in Uganda to praise God.
One of the translators, Bishop Seme Nigo Abiuda, preached — with nods and exclamations of assent from the people — that God himself is the victor and they share in his victory: “Why do we praise the Lord? We praise the Lord because the Scripture in our language is here!”
But the Keliko church leaders know that victory is much more than what’s already been accomplished. It’s about the joy that comes from being transformed by the eternal power of Scripture. “I am therefore urging all the people to read, reflect and enrich their spiritual life using the translated materials such as the Bible, the ‘JESUS’ film, recorded Bible and [Scripture] songs,” Bishop Seme declared in the dedication program.
They’re also looking to the future, believing that the Word will have transformative power through the generations. “The Bible has been launched at a time when we are facing many challenges. It is my belief that the love of God provided through friends and partners will impact the next generation,” said Dimba David, dedication organizing committee chairman.
With the light of the Word shining in their hearts, the Keliko testify of God’s power to change their lives. At the dedication, the Archbishop of Central Equatoria Internal Province, Episcopal Church of South Sudan, His Grace Dr. Paul Yugusuk was so moved by their transformation that he expressed a desire to have the Scriptures translated into his own language. “It is this Word of God we use to bring our people to salvation,” said the Archbishop.
The Keliko translation team was responsible for the bulk of the work. But they acknowledge that the Lord brought them many great supporters and co-laborers who share in this victory.
Wycliffe is grateful for all those who support the work of Bible translation, including those who give through the Combined Federal Campaign.
When you help bring people God’s Word in a language they can understand, lives are forever changed.
The victory has only just begun.