Togo | Moba New Testament (2008)

 

The Moba receive God’s Peace Medal…the Sweet News of Jesus

In 1804 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark started exploring the Northwest Territory, seeking a waterway to the Pacific. They took with them an interpreter and a supply of Peace Medals. The medals were to be given to the various people groups they would meet to signify that there would be peace between them and the United States.

On Oct. 18, 2008, in the village of Nano in northern Togo, West Africa, Moba speakers received a different sort of Peace Medal from God—the New Testament in their own language.

At first, all we could do was tell them about the Good News of Salvation. But working with a group of three Moba men we translated God’s word into ‘The Sweet news of Jesus’… in written form.

Rev. Walter DeMoss

… The Sweet News of Jesus

With singing, dancing, worship and feasting, almost 1,500 people celebrated and thanked God for this precious gift. They celebrated because they no longer needed an interpreter. They now have the “sweet news” of Jesus in their own language.

Background

Almost 22 years ago, Rev. Kombat Bigbi, Rev. Joiniim Lanbon, and Mr. Saka Kombien, with Rev. Walt DeMoss as their advisor, endeavored to find the best way to express God’s Word in the Moba language.

At the beginning of this translation process, a group of young Moba men gathered to study for the ministry using materials written in French. At that time, only portions of Scripture were available in Moba. The ministry students would refer to the Moba Scriptures to understand what the French translation was saying; proof that their mother tongue spoke to their hearts and heads. The Moba Scriptures were better for them than the French Bible!

The translation process

The translation work continued over the years. Translation consultants from the United Bible Societies checked the work and suggested revisions when necessary. Introductions to each book of the New Testament were written and a glossary was prepared. After the manuscript was typeset, the translators were meticulous in reading and checking for errors. They wanted to be able to say to the Moba people with confidence that “This is the Word of God!”

Planning the dedication

More thanksgiving ensued when the Bible Society of Togo learned that the printed New Testaments were being shipped to Togo. Preparations began, excitement built, and a sigh of relief arose from many corners of Togo when word arrived that the New Testaments had been cleared in port.

The day of dedication

October 18—dedication day—dawned. The appointed starting time was 8 a.m., but true to African culture, the service did not begin until the crowd had grown, after 10 a.m. Once the service began, it did not stop. The animation and enthusiasm kept building until finally Rev. Amegah unveiled a stack of Moba New Testaments. Now there was no doubt: the sweet news of Jesus Christ, Yiesu Labamann Mual Ni, had arrived. The people could see and touch God’s Peace Medal.

In his sermon, Rev. Kombat Bigbi, the president of the Lutheran Church of Togo and the head translator, read from Acts 2 where the events of Pentecost Day are related. Two thousand years ago the people gathered in Jerusalem heard the believers declaring the wonders of God in their own language. So also Moba speakers heard these same wonders in the language of their hearts. “We no longer needed an interpreter,” Rev. Kombat said. “We can now read and hear the Good News of free salvation through faith in Jesus Christ directly in our own language.”

The project that began 22 years ago saw completion in 2008. God’s Word is now available to Moba speakers, to the glory of God.

God used us all from the start. Many have already passed on to heaven, having received the Gospel orally. Now, through the printed Word, many more are being reached in a new way, in their heart language and are being led to salvation in Christ Jesus. We thank God and give Him the glory.

Rev. Walter DeMoss