A familiar phrase opens understanding of Scripture to Rangi hearts

Kondoa, Tanzania —

“I have heard John 15:5 many times, in Swahili and in English,” said Paulo Kijuu, a Rangi Translator. When the team was working on that passage with their Translation Consultant, they talked about abiding in Jesus and what that means. The expression is not clear to Rangi speakers.

“A branch of a vine cannot ‘live in’ the vine,” Kijuu said. “Instead it is ‘attached’ or connected to the vine. Also, living ‘in a person’ is an unclear concept to Rangi speakers—and even to me.”

Realizing the team’s struggle, the Consultant asked questions to guide their search for a better expression. Finally, they found a figure of speech which the Rangi use to describe two very good friends, or a couple who love one another very much. The expression in Rangi, kʉva kɨɨntʉ kɨmwɨ, literally means to be one thing.

“When we put this expression in our translation,” recalled Kijuu, “my eyes were teary, because I was able to visualize my relationship with Jesus. When I live in him, I am one thing with him. I pictured my grandfather sitting with his best friend. People would say they are one thing. I saw how Jesus takes care of me. I could feel his love, and I could see a whole new life with him.”

The Rangi team’s Consultant then encouraged them to put the new translation to a community check. “We asked people what this means,” said Kijuu, “to abide in Jesus. Right away, they gave examples of people who are very close friends.”

“The Rangi people are so blessed,” he added, “to have God’s Word in their language, to experience his love and the promise of being ‘one thing’ with him. The Lord is so gracious and merciful to us that he gave us such a relationship.”

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.