Translator asked to pray, surprises crowd by using their language

While visiting a village in the Mbugwe language community, one of the translators (Emmanuel Shishe) attended a funeral. He was invited to pray for the family and friends of the deceased. He agreed, and prayed in their local language, Mbugwe.

Official religious activities are usually only conducted in Swahili. Many of those gathered were surprised to hear Shishe’s prayer. After the funeral, he was approached three times…

The first was a group of older women. They hand-delivered a soda to the translator, praising him for his ability and for the heart shown in his prayer. “They were very moved,” Shishe remembered, “by hearing a true prayer to God in their mother tongue.”

He was later met by another woman, who begged him to come to her house to pray over her home and family. Their household, she explained, was encountering especially challenging times. She saw there was great power and value in a prayer in their language.

Finally, a younger man who had been drinking told the translator about a dream he’d had. “He believed that the Mbugwe people would return to God and be saved,” said Shishe, “through our preaching, prayers, and translation of the Bible into the Mbugwe language.” The young man added that, in his dream, he and others like him turned away from alcohol and followed God.

“It was a very encouraging trip,” said Shishe, “for the Mbugwe translation team. We often get bogged down in the slow daily work of translation in the office. But hearing the heart of the community like this gives us great motivation to keep moving forward.”

This story was written for SIL Tanzania by:

Kenny Grindall (Communications Coordinator)

SIL International is a global partner among academic and professional organisations which offer language development services. SIL works alongside speakers of more than 1,700 languages in over 100 countries. Active in Tanzania since 1989, the organization makes its services available to all without regard to religious belief, political ideology, gender, race or ethnolinguistic background.