The Kaowlu people reside in Cote d'Ivoire (formerly known as the Ivory Coast). Numbering approximately 25,000, 15% profess Christianity, 2% of whom claim to be evangelical. Seventy-five percent of the population practice ethnic religions, while the other 10% practice Islam.
A missionary with the French Bible Mission introduced evangelical Christianity to the country in the 1960s. Then Baptist Mid-Missions personnel entered Cote d'Ivoire in the mid-1970s, starting a Kaowlu New Testament project in 1975 under the supervision of BMM missionary Gordon Wimer. Bibles International helped complete the project in 1991 and celebrated with a dedication service for about 300 attendees, including various dignitaries, in the village of Pehe on February 23, 1992. After the program concluded with a reading from the Kaowlu New Testament and a clear gospel presentation, ten people indicated a desire to trust Christ as their Savior.
Years of civil war and continued conflict in the early 2000s disrupted life in Cote d'Ivoire, especially in the area of education, causing an extremely low literacy rate of 25% for adults and even lower rates for children. After the many tumultuous years of fighting, churches regrouped and restarted the Bibles International literacy program. A positive response to a survey in 2013 regarding a possible translation project led BI to adopt the Kaowlu Bible and Literacy project in February 2015.
Following a plan to improve literacy in phases, BI began to revise and reprint the 1998 literacy primer; however, this revision did not proceed as quickly as anticipated. The revised primer was printed in early 2020, and the Kaowlu Bible and Literacy project currently focuses on advancing the literacy program in the villages. During the next phase, the translation team will revise the 1991 New Testament translation, before moving on to a first translation of the Kaowlu Old Testament.
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