The Diangello (dee-an-gel’-ow) people group (a pseudonym) numbers approximately 6,000, with about 3,900 professing Christianity and worshipping in 30 Baptist churches currently. Although the Diangello generally experience a 50% literacy rate, the combined efforts of missionary day schools in the villages and night school adult education programs in the churches have resulted in a significantly higher 60-90% literacy rate among the Diangello believers.
The history of Christianity among the Diangello began with an evangelism ministry by the neighboring Metatrepo (another pseudonym) believers in 1919. Unfortunately, the few Diangello converts who heard the gospel and accepted Christ began to experience persecution that eventually led to excommunication from their villages. After some time, the villages accepted the Christians back into their communities without requiring them to renounce their faith.
As the body of believers grew among the Diangello people, so did their desire for God’s Word, but they only possessed portions of the Bible. In 1985, they contacted Bibles International for assistance in translating the New Testament into their language. The main translator assigned to the task, “Sunga,” said about the translation process, “When I translated the Bible into Diangello, I also receive[d] blessings from reading. When we come [to check] our work, I learn many things. Our consultants explain those verses, and that really enriches my knowledge of the Bible. It helps me in my ministry. It is almost like attending Bible School.”
After the completion and printing of the New Testament translation in 1995, the dedication service began on the evening of May 14 and continued through the entire next day. In an expression of joy and gratitude, the people participated in a non-stop public reading of the New Testament that took over 36 hours to complete.
Translation work on the Diangello Old Testament began immediately, with Sunga continuing as the lead translator. However, after assuming a church position that required more of his time, Sunga passed his lead translator role to “Hruaisanga” during the translation process. The translation team completed the Old Testament in 2014, and the dedication ceremony concluded with another public reading, this time of the entire Bible, that took almost a full week to finish and demonstrated the Diangello believers’ abundant enthusiasm for their newfound ability to read and understand the Word of God in their language.
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