Songs and shouts of celebration rang out across the slopes of Mt Elgon in Kenya as thousands gathered for the dedication of the Sabaot full Bible on Sunday, June 10th.
Almost 80 years ago the first Christian hymns were translated into the Sabaot language. For the last 32 years BTL and their partners have been developing the New and Old Testament translations, alongside literacy and Mother Tongue Education programmes, preparing the Sabaot people to make use of their own Bible and to ensure that it is always much more than just a collection of paper and ink.
Tribal conflict has been a part of the lives of the Sabaot people for generations, prompting this prayer for peace by the BTL General Secretary – “that many of you Sabaot people, who have not known peace for years will read these Scriptures in your language and know the Lord of peace. May this book become a uniting tool between a neighbour and another. May it bring healing to those that are hurting and restore hope to those that have been devastated by the tribal clashes which have dominated this community for years.”
Sabaot believers and pastors have long been working to introduce the Gospel to the Sabaot community, but without the Bible in the Sabaot language, it has often been difficult. On Sunday we heard the story of a Sabaot man struggling to share the Gospel in Kiswahili with his people:
“In his frustrations, he called out to God, ‘Oh, if only we had the Bible in Sabaot language!’ He went on to say, ‘The Sabaot people have great thirst, but the water they have to drink has many impurities. They need clean water so that their thirst will be quenched. They have been getting God’s message through languages foreign to them. Therefore the message is not clear to them, and so their hearts are still thirsty. If the message was in the Sabaot language, the people would understand it and their thirst would be quenched.'”
Through the hard work and sacrifice of many, the Sabaot now have a means to quench that thirst. They have the Word that can speak to their hearts. The book that both informs and transforms. They have the Sabaot Bible!