Based on a report by Andrew Schaeffer, serving with The Alliance in Burkina Faso, West Africa
On February 6, 2016, Richard and Lillian Phillips’ years devoted to translating the San Bible were rewarded.
Burkinabè political and religious leaders from far and near joined several hundred Samo people (who speak San) in Toma’s town square to celebrate the arrival of God’s Word in their heart language.
A highlight of the dedication ceremony was hearing 85-year-old Richard greet attendees in San and watching the president of the Burkina Association of Evangelicals present him with a brand new copy of the Bible.
As soon as the ceremony concluded, a long line behind the Bible Society pickup truck formed as people waited to purchase copies of God’s Word in their language.
An Elite Class
Richard and Lillian are among a select group of Alliance international workers who have helped translate the Bible into a people group’s heart language. (They also initiated a Bible translation in Vietnam, where they served for about 15 years.) Like the Phillipses, a number of these skilled, unheralded heroes also have translated the Bible for peoples in Burkina Faso:
- Milt and Nancy Pierce (Bobo Madare Bible, 2005)
- Mary Crowgey (Jula Bible, 2008)
- Dave and Betty Shady (Buamu New Testament, 2013)
When the first Protestant missionaries arrived in the area now known as Burkina Faso in 1921, none of the 70 languages in this West African region were in written form. Early missionaries recognized the need to translate the Bible for the people groups these languages represented.
Dedication, Tenacity Required
Mastering a language, not to mention Bible translation, requires years of study and application.
In Burkina Faso, the arduous Bible translation process involves working with local pastors and committees to ensure accuracy. It includes publishing grammar studies and encouraging literacy projects.
Upon its completion, the translation undergoes an extensive review. Once approved, a lengthy wait ensues as the new Bible is printed and then shipped back to the country.
Pray for the San, Bobo Madera, Jula, and Buamu Bible translations to have a powerful impact upon Burkina Faso and the larger, spiritually dark, West Africa region.
Andrew Schaeffer’s wife, Esther, filmed “Heart Language in Burkina Faso” (1:57), which provides a glimpse of the San Bible dedication festivities last month.
Join the Alliance family in praying for our workers in Burkina Faso and worldwide, who are taking the good news—in word and deed—to some of the least-reached regions of the world. Use the weekly Alliance Prayer Requests to assist you.
Myrna and Buzz Maxey, Compassion and Mercy Associates (CAMA) workers serving in Papua, Indonesia, have partnered for the past seven years with two local pastors to translate the Bible into Ngalik.
Read “The Bible Translation that Rocked the World,” an article about Martin Luther’s translation of the German Bible and how it proved a catalyst for the historic Protestant Reformation nearly 500 years ago.