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Counted Among the People

An estimated crowd of 2,500 joyful celebrants gathered in southwestern Chad in February 2006 to dedicate the Kera New Testament, completed with help from Wycliffe Canada's Jackie Hainaut.

Hainaut, who hails from Quebec, began living among the Kera in 1989. She and British colleague Mary Pearce worked closely with representatives of the Kera church over 13 years, completing the translation in 2002.

"My greatest joy was hearing people reading the Kera New Testament out loud...with confidence and understanding," said Hainaut. "The Kera pastors have gained assurance in their preaching because they no longer have to search for the right term to use in their language.

"I can't begin to express my joy and gratitude to the Lord!"

The translation was the first New Testament completed in Chad with the involvement of SIL, Wycliffe's partner for training, translation, literacy and language research. Linguists from SIL's Chad branch are involved in 11 language projects, including two Old Testament translations. In addition, SIL provides consultant help for six teams working in southern Chad.

At the dedication event held near the village of Koupor, Kera speakers emphasized that it is not enough to simply have the New Testament—people need to read and believe it.

"Our New Testament has finally arrived," said Aidjo Felix, the main Kera translator involved in the project (centre photo, in black suit). "It is like Simon and Andrew waiting to meet Jesus! We need to devour this Book!"

Young people carried in boxes of New Testaments on their heads, dancing and singing, "God's words have arrived in our language, here they are, here they are!"

Afterwards, excited celebrants jostled one another to purchase nearly 2,000 copies of the New Testament. At the end of the day, several hundred people stayed to watch a French version of the JESUS film.

The night before the ceremony, a small amount of rain sprinkled the area. For the Kera, it was a sign of God's blessing because rainfall is extremely rare in the month of February. On the evening of the dedication, the Kera were thrilled to see even more rain drops fall.

An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 Kera speakers live in Chad and neighbouring Cameroon. One pastor, Kouri Benjamin, is currently working on a master's degree in preparation for his role as main translator and exegete for the Kera Old Testament.

Often mistreated by people from the larger language groups surrounding them, the Kera say that the publication of their own New Testament means they are now "counted among the people."

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