The translation of the Mankanya NT began in 1997, when a Mankanya Catholic priest decided that his people group ought to have God’s Word in their language. Mankanya is one of the 37 or so West African languages spoken in the country where I live. It was surreal to attend the dedication ceremony for this translation project that finished shortly before I arrived (and started when I was just 10 years old). I have truly stepped into a long history of SIL’s work here, and an even longer history of God’s work here.
How wonderful to listen to the Lord’s Prayer in Mankanya! And how inspiring to hear a priest exhorting the Mankanya attending, from Jesus’ parable of the sower, to work at preparing the soil of their hearts, now that the seed of God’s Word is in their language and now that it is being sown among them.
But maybe the most moving part of the ceremony for me was the procession of the Mankanya Scriptures, carried by one of the several Mankanya men who were the translators. Following in the procession were 4 symbols, 4 parts of everyday life for this people group. Verses were read from the Scriptures — first in French, then in their mother-tongue — where God speaks through those very object lessons. How powerfully communicative to see a concrete link drawn between God’s Word and Mankanya culture!
I’ll let a few photos tell the rest:
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” -Matthew 4:4
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” -John 4:13-14
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. -Psalm 119:105
And I’ll conclude with the following verses which were read in the liturgy that followed:
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it that I will follow your righteous laws. I have suffered much; preserve my life, Lord, according to your word. Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws. Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law. The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts. Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.
While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”