Speakers of the Pinyin language, displaced by an ongoing sociopolitical crisis in Cameroon’s northwest and southwest, say they have found new joy in the Pinyin New Testament.
The New Testaments had actually been completely translated, printed and shipped to Cameroon by 2018. But they remained in boxes, as political disputes between the country’s English-speaking minority and French-speaking majority degenerated into an armed conflict. More than 3,000 people have been killed and at least 437,500 others displaced by the unrest, according to the United Nations and Human Rights Watch.
Among those displaced are many of the 40,000 Cameroonians whose mother tongue is Pinyin.
As the crisis persisted, distributing the New Testament and organizing a dedication in a Pinyin community became difficult. Most speakers of the language are living miles from home, scattered to safer areas of the country. The wait for the completed New Testament became more frustrating when they knew it was at their doorsteps.
“We don’t know when the crisis will end. And the Bibles are already available,” said Pastor Samuel Fobot, Chair of the Pinyin Inter-Church Organization. “We cannot continue to keep them in boxes. That’s why we decided to dedicate and distribute the Bible in smaller groups, where Pinyin speakers have been displaced to, or where some naturally live.”
The Pinyin New Testament was dedicated on 30 August, 2020, near the capital city of Yaounde. Lynda Ngwafor, a Pinyin speaker who has been living in that region, says the New Testament is her new source of hope.
“I left Pinyin in 2018 when the crisis degenerated and I have been here for the past two years,” she said. “Life here has been very difficult. We have little or no support. This Bible in my own language is my only source of hope now. I will use it for my Bible study. I will also download and listen to the audio version, while sharing with Pinyin speakers who have not yet learned how to read and write in the language.”
The dedication comes after 16 years of work championed by the Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (CABTAL), in partnership with the Pinyin Inter-Church Organization. The project was funded by Wycliffe Canada’s partner organization, OneBook, as well as Covenant Community Church near Baton Rouge, LA.
The translation has also been recorded and a version developed for the YouVersion app. These were dedicated along with the printed text and a Pinyin-English/English-Pinyin dictionary.
Date: September 2020