We support a long term project translating the Bible into tribal languages of the native population of South America. These are amongst the poorest communities in South America and often live in the most inhospitable parts of the continent. Many people are illiterate and CMS - SAMS is involved in developing literacy classes so that people can read the Bible. Bringing the Bible to oppressed communities can bring them to Christ.
Michael, from Suffolk, and his Argentine wife live just outside Salta in Northern Argentina. Since the mid-90s he worked with a team of three native-speakers on the translation of the New Testament into the Toba language. The work was completed in 2009 and was presented to the Toba communities in August 2010. How do we translate the Bible into Toba? >
Mike and Silvia live in Salta with their sons Kevin and Chris, and Mike continues to visit the Tobas, and to prepare materials to help them read their new translation. The Toba people requested a missionary presence in the 1920s after seeing the effect of the gospel upon their neighbours, the Wichi.
In 1994, Osvaldo Molina from the community of El Churcal and Michael Browne began translating the New Testament. Michael, supported from England by the South American Mission Society (now integrated into the Church Mission Society), coordinated the project, while Osvsaldo translated from Spanish into Toba. With the inclusion of two further Toba translators, José Manuel and Hilario Tenaiquín, the work was finished in 2009, published by the Argentine Bible Society in 2010 and presented to the people on 29th August 2010.
Presentation of the Toba New Testament, 29/9/2010: Slideshow >
Pastors receive first Toba New Testaments, 13/12/2010: Slideshow >
In February 2011, Michael returned to northern Argentina, sensing God’s call to continue translation work with the Tobas. The Western Toba translation team began work on the Old Testament, with informal support from the Anglican Church of Northern Argentina and the Argentine Bible Society (ABS). Michael began processing these hand-written texts, as well as coordinating the final checking of the Minor Prophets.
The Argentine Bible Society approved its support for the Toba Old Testament Project in April 2014. It was an answer to prayer, as we can now plan ahead, knowing that we are not on our own. New team members Ana and Estela both participated in the June meeting, and we were able to finish revising Esther. This book now moves on to the next stage, in which copies will be given to selected readers, who will then give us their feedback. In October, Michael and Samuel Almada, OT Consultant with ABS, worked with Hilario and Estela on the final checking of Ruth, Esther and Jonah.
Video: September 2014 >
In December 2014, 300 copies of a booklet were received for distribution. The demand was so great that the five translators, given the task of sharing them out between the different churches in each Toba village, were left straight away with no more stock. One man, seeing me walking through the town centre in Juárez, came over to greet me and then the first thing he asked was, did I have any of the new Bible story books?
The first of the workshops was organised by the Argentine Bible Society (ABS), in early December 2014, gave a brief introduction for the translators in writing Bible text with a keyboard.
A second computer workshop organised by ABS was held in Córdoba, central Argentina, from 9th-12th March 2015. The main focus of this workshop was to look at how to use Paratext, the program we use for working with Scriptures.
Training Course for Indigenous Bible translators: A representative from our project and also from the Argentine Bible Society office in Cordoba, went to a training course held in Lima, Peru from the 18th to 29th May 2015 and found the course very helpful.
July 2016: Five new laptops have now been purchased and handed to the translators, and a short introductory course was given to them. They will now endeavour to continue their work directly on the computer. Some will need a lot of help at first, while others are already quite used to the Bible translation software. Video >
Paratext is a tool designed to help translators, exegetical advisers, translation consultants, project support staff produce quality translations from the point of view of both format and content.
ParaTExt 7 > ParaTExt 8 >
The Digital Bible Library (DBL) is owned and maintained by United Bible Societies in partnership with other Bible agencies and with the support of the Every Tribe Every Nation alliance. It makes the Bible accessible by providing Scripture texts to the public through partners such as BibleSearch and YouVersion.
The Digital Bible Library > BibleSearch > YouVersion >
Alexander M. Schweitzer, United Bible Societies Head of Global Bible Translation, commented: “How encouraging it is to look back at 2015 to see that Bible Societies have been involved in completing translations in no fewer than 50 languages spoken by nearly 160 million people. We also take special joy to see the progress being made with new Scriptures in Braille and Sign Language. This progress inspires us to aim even higher so that the lives of many more individuals and communities are enriched by the transforming power of God’s Word.” More >
Celebrating God's blessings on Bible Society work Video >
Tim is coordinator of a Bible translation project which began in the 1980s. A team of translators worked on the Old Testament under Tim’s guidance, based at a specially built office in Río Verde. The complete Bible is another milestone for a people first evangelised by ‘the Livingstone of South America’, SAMS’ pioneer missionary Wilfred Barbrooke Grubb, in the late 19th century.
The completion of a 25-year translation project has resulted in the first Éxnet Sur Bible translation for the Southern Enxet people, an indigenous group from the Gran Chaco region of western Paraguay. The work is the result of a collaboration between the Anglican Church of Paraguay, the Church Mission Society (CMS) Anglican mission agency, and the Paraguayan Bible Society.
Launching the Énxet Bible Tim Curtis - Link Letter 20 >
The Bishop of Paraguay, the Rt Revd Peter Bartlett, marked the publication of the first Enxet Bible – which comes 19 years after the first version of an Enxet New Testament was completed – at a ceremony on 16th April 2016. Video >
The translation project was led by CMS mission partner Tim Curtis, who has devoted over 25 years of his life to the project. “We felt emotional and then went quiet as we took stock of what it means to hold the Bible in our hands,” he told CMS. “People have been waiting for a long time for this Bible with great expectations.” More >
My call: To promote use of the Holy Scriptures, making people wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ
"My aim is to help the Enxet and related indigenous Christians of the Paraguayan Chaco to better know the Lord through learning more about the Scriptures and what he says in them, so that people are better equipped in life. I want to look at creating biblical materials for children and adults, but will initially focus on visiting indigenous communities for Bible study. I also want to use the new Enxet Bible to help people outside the churches to hear God’s word and to put their trust in him." More >
One language, many voices recording the Enxet New Testament "It simply poured with rain during the first day of the recording of the Énxet New Testament, but amazingly we only had a short power cut that day and hardly any power cuts from the end of January to the beginning of March.
Tim Curtis - Link Letter 19 >
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Enxet (pronounced Enk-let’) are one 18 tribes in the Paraguayan Chaco.
The Wichi Indians have lived in the Chaco forest of northern Argentina for thousands of years. Some of the poorest and most marginalized people in Argentina, the Wichi have struggled to survive. In the 1960s Bill Flagg obtained wood-working tools for the Wichi people and started an industry of hand-crafted wood sculptures - beautifully carved and inlaid birds and animals - which provided them with a sustaining income. On his return to England he became one of the industry's chief salesmen. Initially SAMS and now CMS support this project sited in Algarrobal, the Indian village where the Siwok Crafts are produced (otherwise called Mission Chaqueña).
This work contributes to the Wichi cultural preservation, by providing work for over 100 Wichi families. Allowing them to remain in their communities rather than migrating to towns where their language and culture are often lost.
What happens to that revenue? Firstly, the Wichi are paid fairly for their work at source by Alec Deane when he travels fortnightly to Misión Chaqueña to purchase the crafts. Secondly, surplus monies are sent via a registered charity to help the Wichi people of the Chaco. Some of these donations have gone through Asociana, some to the Siwok Foundation established by Alec Deane to help the Wichi in Misión Chaqueña. [Asociana is the social justice organisation of the Anglican Church in Northern Argentina, working amongst the indigenous indian people the Wichi.]
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