The Matu Chin people primarily reside in the Matupi Township of Myanmar where they number more than 30,000. Although many Matu Chin originally adhered to animism and headhunting, the people have been practicing the Christian faith since before World War II when Baptist and Presbyterian missionaries shared the gospel with them. Now 80% profess Christianity, 44% of whom claim to be evangelical, despite enduring great persecution for their faith.
For many years, the Matu people possessed one hymnal as their only piece of Christian literature, so a Matu man named Lawngthang began translating the New Testament by himself. Once he heard of Bibles International, he overcame tremendous difficulties to travel to India, where BI was holding a workshop. Burdened for the Matu believers and motivated by their urgent need of the Scriptures in their language, Lawngthang repeatedly made the arduous trip to India throughout the process of completing the Matu New Testament. He commented as he worked: "My people are in a hurry for the Bible."
Bibles International adopted the Matu language in 1993, first with BI senior consultant Henry Osborn, and then with BI senior consultant Ross Hodsdon, working with Lawngthang and his helpers to complete the Matu New Testament, eventually published in 1998. BI adopted the Matu New Testament revision project in 2005, with Dr. Aung Htang working as the chief translator. From this project, BI printed a trial edition of Acts and Romans in 2016 and a revised New Testament in 2023. They held a small dedication service on April 1, 2023 at a Baptist church in the city of Yangon, but have yet to hold dedication services in the villages due to current events in Myanmar.
Meanwhile, BI literacy consultants worked with the Matu people to produce and print a primer in 2009, followed by the Old Testament Storybook 1 in 2010 and the Old Testament Storybook 2 in 2012. Additionally, they provided several teacher sessions for the primer and storybooks to help facilitate literacy improvement among the people who will be receiving the completed Scripture translations. The Matu people greatly desire a complete Bible in their language, so they hope to continue the translation work beyond the completion of the New Testament revision by translating the Old Testament as well.
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