Nigeria’s large Tiv-speaking community received a powerful new tool for evangelism last week. The Revised Tiv Bible was officially launched by the Bible Society of Nigeria on August 10 in the city of Makurdi, Benue State, before a gathering of more than 750 Christians.
The event was attended by a wide cross-section of society, including the state governor’s chief of staff, traditional rulers, church leaders and ordinary Tiv Christians.
“I have been praying for this new Bible,” smiled Rev Gideon Gandekaka. He travelled more than 100km to attend the launch. “I am so happy to have lived long enough to witness its publication.”
The vast majority of the country’s more than four million Tiv people are Christians. They have had the full Bible in their language since 1964. Many of them, particularly young people, find the language outdated and difficult to understand.
People are still waiting
“We are so privileged to receive this Revised Bible in our language when there are people all over the world still waiting for the Bible in their mother tongue,” noted the Anglican Bishop of Makurdi, the Rt Rev Dr Nathan Inyom.
Professor Daniel Uzar, who chaired the dedication event, described the new Bible as a ‘vital tool for evangelism’.
“Do not get your copy of this new Bible and then keep it at home for yourselves. Instead, share it with others,” he urged the gathering.
Guest speaker the Rev Dr Frederick Ikyaan reinforced this message:
‘Transform us as individuals’
“This Bible has come to us, first to transform us as individuals and then, after our own transformation, we can and must influence others positively.”
Being able to share the Gospel message more effectively is exactly what Agunveren Uza is hoping to be able to do using this new, easy to understand Bible translation.
“I think this new Bible will achieve exciting new things!” she said. “We plan to use it for evangelism, especially in rural areas.”
Nancy Sugh described the new translation as ‘perfect’. Many more Tiv people would be able to understand the Bible now.
‘Looking forward to this day’
“I’ve really been looking forward to this day,” smiled Abraham Adole, who is in a wheelchair. “I am so happy to see this new Bible!”
Work to revise the Tiv Bible began in 1991, undertaken by six translators who worked on the project at one time or another. The work was completed by the Rev Zechariah Bum. He sadly did not get to see the launch as he passed away in March.
Bible Society General Secretary Dr Dare Ajiboye encouraged Tiv Christians to not only share the Gospel with their fellow Tiv-speakers, but to also help other language groups to get the Bible in their language. He explained that it costs the Bible Society more than US$130,000 to translate the full Bible, which, under ideal conditions, would take around 12 years of work.
The Bible is currently available in 24 Nigerian languages, and there is ongoing translation or revision work in a further 10. Please pray for this work.
By Benjamin Mordi, Bible Society of Nigeria