Celebrating the Tembo New Testament

  • May 7, 2018
Tembo girl holding up New Testament

After 21 years of hard work, the Tembo people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo dedicated their New Testament on Oct. 7, 2017!

Translation work first began in 1996, but shortly after war erupted in the country. The translators had to move from their village out of concern for their safety.

They relocated to Goma, where the work continued in the midst of great turmoil. Rebel activity, a breakdown in infrastructure and countless difficulties — including the struggles of getting medical help, finding food or even providing for families — were everyday hardships for the team.

Emails from the national team shared accounts of hiding under their translation desks because bullets were flying in their neighborhoods, bombs going off nearby, and people being injured or even killed.

The team was impacted from all sides, but through it all they kept working. And finally, after years of hard work, the New Testament is complete! The dedication honored the translators, but primarily focused on changed lives and what God is doing through the Scripture — and on him receiving the glory for everything!

Throughout the ceremony, the Tembo translators were very emotional. The day was a testimony of God’s protection and provision and grace in their lives.

Pastor holds up Tembo New Testament

When the Scripture was brought on stage, the main translator and literacy worker were hugging and weeping. Years before, the main translator said he hoped God would spare his life to see the completion of the translation. He lived to see God’s Word in his own language!

In addition to the New Testament and Genesis in print, the Tembo have additional translated resources: a dictionary, trauma healing literature, the “JESUS” film and an audio recording of the New Testament. The audio recording will be hugely instrumental because of low literacy rates in the Tembo community.

Some of the translation team and pastors seated in front of boxes of the Tembo New Testament

Having God’s Word in Tembo is a gift that the translators have dreamed of sharing with their community for many years. And now that the New Testament is complete, they will help with four other translations in the region!

The Tembo team would like to do Old Testament translation for their own language if they get funding, but they are going to help these neighboring language groups in the meantime. This dedication isn’t the end — it’s the beginning, both for the Tembo and for these neighboring languages.

man reading Tembo New Testament
Happy Tembo ladies at the Scripture celebration

Praise God for the joy and excitement that was experienced at the dedication, and for the Tembo translation team’s desire to help their neighbors get God’s life-changing Word in their own languages as well!

  • It's still very unsafe to travel in certain areas of the Congo, so distributing the New Testament in the Tembo area is difficult. Pray that the team would be able to find ways to safely distribute the Scripture.
  • Ask God to transform hearts and lives through the Tembo New Testament. Pray for the Tembo translators as they help these four related languages translate the New Testament.
  • Pray for the pastors to have confidence as they preach from the Tembo New Testament. They've previously preached in French or Swahili because those were the only scriptures available to them. Ask God to give them courage as they preach.

Rémy and Angi Ngumbu

Make a Prayer Connection: Pray for Wycliffe missionaries Rémy and Angi Ngumbu. They work in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo and are passionate about seeing Bible translation advance in this country.