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03 May 2016

New Bible translation for Paraguayan believers

New Bible translation for Paraguayan believers

A 25-year project to translate the Bible for the Southern Énxet people has been completed.

The indigenous people group living in the Gran Chaco region of western Paraguay have only had a New Testament since 1997.

The publication of the new translation was marked in a ceremony hosted by the Bishop of Paraguay in April.

Tim Curtis, project leader for Christian Mission Society, said: "The Southern Énxet people number 9,000 and now with the Bible in their own language each person can read about the love of God for themselves. I believe that that is worth devoting 25 years of my life for.

"We felt emotional and then went quiet as we took stock of what it means to hold the Bible in our hands. People have been waiting for a long time for this Bible with great expectations."

Although the work of translation was started by missionaries in the early 20th century, Tim Curtis and his team of translators were able to finish the work. The Énxet dialect is still spoken in the region and frequently used in prayers and worship in churches across the Paraguayan Chaco, even though it is not an official Paraguayan language.

The Bishop of Paraguay, Peter Bartlett, said at the recent confirmation of the text and of 120 new believers: "Standing up and being counted as a Christian is not easy in the Paraguayan Chaco, where life is seen through the distinct lens of the spirit world and the spiritual powers of the shaman, which are often feared yet also sought out in times of crisis."

The team will continue their work by producing audio resources and developing teaching materials to use alongside the Bible.