The Goga (formerly known as the Kokak) people reside in ten villages in the Sagaing region of northwest Myanmar, along the northeastern India border. Numbering about 2,000, 70% of the population profess Christianity, with 60% claiming to be evangelical. Of the remaining population, 15% follow Buddhism, and 15% adhere to ethnic religions. The Goga people are illiterate, as they possess no written language and therefore no literature in their heart language.
A Burmese evangelist brought the gospel to the Goga people in 1938. Presently, their Baptist churches use the Judson Burmese Bible by translating the text into Goga while preaching and teaching, but the Goga people have no Bible of their own.
In March 2015, a Burmese pastor connected the Goga believers with Bibles International. Later that same year, the chairman of the Goga Literature Committee wrote to both Bibles International and Bibles International Myanmar Society, requesting: "We […] want to develop our own written system in our language." They desired the assistance of BI and BIMS for language development, with the ultimate goal of a Bible translation.
A BI research team met with the Goga people to evaluate literacy in March 2016, and the Evangelical Baptist Church Association agreed to take this on as a mission work in November of that year. Subsequently, in December 2016, BI formally adopted the Goga Literacy project.
Literacy workshops began in 2017, as language representatives worked diligently with BI literacy consultants. In just two weeks, they produced a primer draft, and additional workshops followed. In 2019, the literacy team produced a language teaching primer. One committee member creatively set the alphabet to a traditional Goga tune to help teach it to the people. Upon the completion of their Old Testament Storybook, translation of the Goga New Testament will begin.
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