In the book of Philemon (v18), Paul says, "If he [Onesimus] has wronged you [Philemon] in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account."
In some African cultures, people think of a debt not as something the debtor owes but as something the creditor claims. For example, in the Jita language of northern Tanzania (Mara Region), there is simply no word which translates as "to owe" something to another person. This makes translation tricky!
When the Jita team came to this verse in Philemon, we found that the solution was to simply turn it around. So the text says, "If he has wronged you in any way, or if you claim any payment from him, claim it from me instead."
It will be interesting to see how that plays out with people's relationship with God!
Word choice is just one challenge our team faces. Recently, our linguistics department has uncovered a surprisingly complex issue with the Jita orthography (writing system). After weeks of work, discussion, and meetings, we have yet to get to the bottom of it. It is likely that some fairly difficult linguistic research lies ahead, as well as more community testing.
Please pray for us! We are hopeful that, despite this unexpected and time-consuming "speedbump," we will reach our goal this year of having the orthography approved for wider use.