The Lathra-speaking people (a pseudonym) number approximately 10,000. At this time, 5,000 of the population profess Christianity, 2,500 of whom are church members. Along with the 70% Lathra literacy rate, the people also experience a 15% literacy rate in the national language.
After three Lathra-speaking men attended a Bibles International translation workshop in April 1987, Lathra Baptist Association personnel held and attended translation and literacy workshops for two years. Then, in April 1990, the association and BI agreed to work together to produce a Lathra New Testament translation, with "K. T." as the chief translator. Concerning the translation experience, he wrote, "As I [was] translating, I [felt] myself drawn nearer to God. As I [saw] God’s words in my language, I [could] understand God’s purposes and His words."
The Lathra translation team revised and completed a literacy primer in 1990 and dedicated it in 1992 at a ceremony attended by the late Dr. Henry Osborn. Next came the publication of a trial edition of the Gospel of John in 1995, followed by the printing of 2,700 copies of the complete New Testament in 2001. Finally, the team produced and printed the Old Testament Storybook 1 in 2002.
The Lathra New Testament dedication took place on March 18, 2001, to the great rejoicing of everyone involved with the project. Former Projects Manager Gary Brewer, Text Editor Don Block, and his wife Pat represented BI at the joyous five-hour celebration, along with a Christian government official who helped them obtain their permit to travel. About 1,000 people, most of whom sat on straw spread on the ground, attended the ceremony. One attendee testified, "Words will not suffice to describe the happiness expressed in [the people's] faces. There was a tear in the eyes of some of them. The people praised and thanked God for providing His Word in their language."
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