A Cow and a Book

By Rachel Greco

The Samburu people in Kenya, Africa, say that in the beginning their god created a Samburu person, a cow, and a book. While the Samburu person was tending the cow as it grazed, it ate the book and from that point on, communication between the Samburu and their god was cut off.

In 2008, this traditional story gave the Samburu church leaders a basis for raising funds for the work of Bible translation. They felt that the book that was eaten by the cow was the Bible and that the only way to get that book back was through the cow. So each leader decided to give a cow in order to raise the funds needed to begin the work of Bible translation.

Funding was just one obstacle the Samburu team encountered in their efforts to retrieve their Book. Transportation to the areas where the Samburu people live posed another hurdle. The Samburu people, along with nine other language projects, are scattered across the western region of Tanzania. The roads out to these areas are dirt rather than tarmac.

Driving in Kenya

If translator chooses to use public transportation, they can’t visit more than one project at a time due to the scheduling of the public transportation. According to Caroline Kamau, the resources development manager for BTL,* “Many of these projects are found in areas that are not very well served by public transportation.”

The farthest project from the Eldoret office in Kenya is about 621 miles away, and the roads are non-defined and treacherous. The other villages range from 93 to 310 miles from the office.

With help from partners like YOU, JAARS funded a 4WD vehicle for the Samburu and the other nine language projects in the area in 2015. This vehicle enables the Samburu and other teams to carry completed books of Scripture and literacy books to those who need them. The teams also utilize it to transport translation consultants to projects. “This is important,” Caroline says, “since at times the translators can draft books of the Bible, but the actual completion [of these books] cannot be realized until translation consultants have looked through the books.”

Language program administrators also use the vehicle to travel to workshops and supervise the region as well as to ferry funding partners visiting some of these projects. With the vehicle, program administrators can now closely monitor and supervise projects that are scattered from each other. “Without this regular supervision, at times we [had] noted problems springing up that could have been addressed much sooner in order to avoid delays in the work,” Caroline remarks.

The New Testaments have arrived!

Your gifts have helped overcome some of these delays so that the Samburu now have a complete New Testament! This last December, the Samburu celebrated the dedication of the New Testament in their language.

Samburu women dancing at the NT dedication

As one Samburu person said in the excitement leading up to the dedication: “It’s been years, months, and days of waiting and finally, in a few days, the Samburu Community will receive their New Testament in their heart language.”

You have helped the Samburu get part of their Book and be able to know the God who loves them. Thank you!

Please join us in praying for the Samburu as they translate the Old Testament and for the other language groups in various stages of the translation process.

To help other language groups complete their Scripture, would you consider giving to our Land Transportation Solution?

*BTL: Bible Translation and Literacy