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Dec 10, 2007

"This is very good"

Written by Misha S.

zanaki.alphabet_chart Zanaki looking at alphabet chart (pastor on left)
(Mara Cluster - Tanzania)

Tanzanian churches are attended by people from various language groups, and because the Bible is in the national language of Swahili, prayer is always in Swahili. During a recent orthography workshop, when an elderly pastor from the Zanaki language was asked which language he used when he prayed alone, the pastor thought for a moment and answered, "Swahili. I always use Swahili. I don't think I have ever prayed in Zanaki. Yes, I am sure I never have in my whole life." 

He readily agreed that it would be possible to pray in Zanaki and he believed God would understand Zanaki, but since the prestigious national language is the language of the Bible, it simply never occurred to him that he could use his mother tongue for prayer.

After they heard this testimony, the group of Zanaki speakers spent an hour doing a different sort of work. They discussed a list of prayer requests for their upcoming Bible translation and literacy project. Just before beginning to pray, however, they were asked to pray in their own language. They were startled, but agreed. 

In Tanzanian fashion they all prayed aloud and simultaneously. Passionate prayers tumbled out as all seven participants asked God to bless the Zanaki project. At one point one woman simply sat smiling and crying, listening to the others pray in her language. When their voices all quieted, one man closed with a Zanaki, "In Jesus' name, amen." They lifted their heads and everyone had tears running down their cheeks. Tanzanians don't often cry in public, but every one of the seven was wiping their eyes. The elderly pastor who had just prayed and heard others pray in Zanaki for the very first time could not stop smiling.

One Zanaki man said, "Let's do this again. This is very good."



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