People of DRC Rejoice to have God's Word in their Language

( [email protected] ) Feb 24, 2004 03:16 AM EST

BOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo—International Bible Society (IBS) launched its contemporary-language Kiyombe New Testament at a release and dedication event in Boma recently. More than 350 church and lay leaders and IBS staff welcomed the first-ever New Testament in Kiyombe, which is spoken by approximately 1.5 million Yombe people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"The Yombe people are proud to have the Holy Scripture in their language," said Charles Diawaku, IBS-DRC National Director. "Until now, in their church services they have had to use their trade language, Kikongo-Fioti, to sing songs of praise and worship, hear the sermon and read the Bible."

Even though about 70 percent of the Yombe people in the DRC are Christians, they have never had more than the Gospels and Acts in their native language—and even those portions were in an out-of-date language. "This translation will fulfill a spiritual need," Diawaku reported. "People of the older generation were using a second language [Kikongo-Fioti] that was no longer understood by the younger generation. Educated youth and intellectuals could use French, but that excluded the vast majority of Yombe people. It was as if their heavenly Father didn't speak their language."

In addition to Diawaku, dedication ceremony speakers included Cesar Massanga, IBS-Translation Coordinator, and Professor Masamba, IBS-DRC Chairman of the Board.

Professor Masamba remarked, "I recommend to Yombe intellectuals the use of this New Testament because their constant use of French is contributing to the devaluation of local languages." Masamba also explained that IBS’ New Testament will help generate appreciation for the Kiyombe language, which has practically no existing literature.

Distribution of the New Testament will take place through churches and bookstores, and through special grants to children’s homes.