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Sep 17, 2007

Well worth the wait...

kumam.henry_opiiRetired minister Henry Opii shows his
gratitude for God's faithfulness in
bringing His word to Kumam
(Kumam - Uganda).

Some 4,000 people gathered in Kaberamaido, a town in eastern Uganda at the heart of the Kumam district, to witness this very special event for their community. Indeed, so many people attended the launch that the town itself was almost deserted. For almost five hours, young and old alike from many different denominations, all dressed in their best clothes, listened to speeches and performed songs and dances.

Amid all the celebrations, there was just one source of disappointment: the 10,000 copies ordered by the Bible Society of Uganda had been delayed, so only a few advance copies were available to buy. When this news was announced, a murmur went through the crowd, according to the Rev Dr. Anastasia Malle, who acted as Translation Consultant on the project.

"One old man pushed his way to the front and pleaded with the translators," she said. "Another explained that he had traveled 40 miles (64 km) by bicycle and wanted at least five copies for his colleagues who could not travel."

Those who were unable to buy a copy had to settle for hearing parts of the Kumam New Testament read out by various Church leaders.

But the guest of honour at the launch was Mrs Maitum, the woman whose desire to allow her people direct access to the Scriptures was the starting point for the translation project. Some early work was done by the Rev Elijah Eyimu, she told the crowd, but it was not until the Bible Society took on the project in 2000, setting up a team which included Mr Eyimu, that progress really began to be made. Even after the Bible Society became involved, Mrs Maitum continued to demonstrate her commitment to this work: requested by the Bible Society to assist with funds to get the project under way, she raised 4,000,000 Ugandan shillings (US$2,400) from members of her family.

"Use this Bible to learn true love," she urged, reflecting that many of the legal cases she deals with seem to stem from a lack of love.

Armed with a translation which is, according to Dr Malle, "faithful to the original text and clearly communicates the Word of God," Kumam-speaking churches will now start to reap the benefits of the support that they gave to this project. And the impact of the Kumam New Testament is set to spread outside churches, too: the government has ruled that children in their early years of primary education should be taught in their mother tongue, so it is likely to be widely used in schools.

Source: United Bible Societies

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