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Jam Ma Cluster

New Testament

Country

Cameroon

Language(s)

 

Gamata, Kwanay, Parak

Speakers

20,000

Access to the Gospel grows steadily as translated Scripture in print and audio reaches three rural communities—even broadcast on local radio.



the Need
Situated in northern Cameroon, the Jam Ma Cluster project serves three unique but closely related language groups. The Gamata, Kwanay, and Parak people live in remote villages at the base of Cameroonian highlands. Using only hand tools, families struggle to grow crops from the limited arable land. During the brief wet season, they must plant, cultivate, and harvest enough food to sustain them for the rest of the year. In addition to their staple foods, many farmers grow cotton and sell it to a government cotton company. Although heavily influenced by Judeo-Christian and Muslim values, most Gamata, Kwanay, and Parak people follow a traditional African religion. Random attacks by religious extremists in this region and a belief in vengeful spirits lead to a pervasive sense of insecurity and fear. The oral-tradition language communities need the power of God’s Word in their mother tongue to comfort them, strengthen them, and give them hope. Local church leaders want to provide the people in these three language groups with life-giving Scripture they can understand and the opportunity to read and write their own language.
The Project

Jam Ma Cluster project team members, trained by staff from our national partner in Cameroon, have made a commitment to:


  • Develop an alphabet and produce a dictionary.


  • Translate the New Testament and make it available in print, audio, and digital formats.


  • Provide mother-tongue literacy materials.


  • Hold literacy classes in the community.


  • Promote engagement with and ownership of translated Scripture among Jam Ma churches and communities.


  • Produce mother-tongue Scripture-based materials like the "JESUS" film, songbooks, and verse posters.

Translation Progress

Drafted

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100

Community-Checked

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96

Quality-Checked

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96

An Invisible Man
Nineteen-year-old Oumarou grew up in the Parak community. When he went to the city police station to apply for his first national ID card, he wrote ‘Parak’ in the box marked ‘ethnicity’. However, the officer processing his form was not familiar with the Parak people and urged him to select a known identity. Oumarou left quite frustrated. This past February, Oumarou attended the International Day of the Mother Tongue celebrations in his Parak community. He sat with almost one hundred others to watch speeches, dances, and songs. There was also a discussion of how to best preserve the Parak language. As he listened, Oumarou was reminded of his experience at the police station by his school. Oumarou explains, “Now I understand why the police said they didn’t know my ethnicity—If we don’t speak and defend our language, of course the local police will not know that we exist! I thank CABTAL and the project leaders for helping us to love and promote our language.”
Cut to the Heart
Gabriel was often overcome with worry. Drinking quieted his anxiety for a while, but it always came back. There were so many unknowns. So much he wasn’t sure of. When the Jam Ma project team came to his village looking for people to help with community-checking the gospel of Luke, Gabriel was happy to help. As they started reading Luke 21:34, Gabriel could not believe what he was hearing: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, what you will eat and drink, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.” He could understand Jesus’ warning clearly, and it cut him right to the heart. Gabriel talked with the project team after the checking was finished, saying “Now, I will take my worries to Jesus.”

“I hope these types of studies continue because when we read and hear the Bible in our heart language, we understand the message and we are corrected and protected from false doctrines that can so easily take us away from God.”

A woman from the Parak community

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