There are an estimated 7000 Bibleless Nahen living in the Naga Autonomous Region of the Sagaing Division of northern Myanmar, with some spilling into neighboring countries as well. Nahen is its own distinct dialect of the Tangshang Naga language, and the Nahen people are clustered in 15 villages. Villages outside of their immediate district also understand Nahen, with six of them having mutual intelligibility with Nahen between 70% and 100%. That adds over 3000 additional persons who could benefit from Scriptures in Nahen one day. But this language is yet unwritten.
The gospel came to their villages in 1981 as the result of national missionary work. Today, it is estimated there are at least 3000 believers in evangelical churches. They translate from the Judson Bible for preaching and teaching, and use Burmese for singing, but Nahen is used for all other parts of their services.
BI first met the Nahen in the fall of 2022. The Nahen Literacy Organizing Committee then contacted Bibles International Myanmar Society the following spring with a letter of intent requesting assistance in developing their alphabet and language. After evaluating the Nahen application, the BIMS EC voted to recommend it to BI for adoption. In December of 2023, BI adopted the Nahen Literacy Project.
BI was impressed with their answers and their desire for a written language, which would culminate in God’s Word in Nahen one day. They want to understand the Bible more than they currently can in Burmese. They want to sing hymns in Nahen. Evangelism will be easier in the mother tongue. People will love the Bible more. All good reasons for having God’s Word in your own language.
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