The Phyle people (a pseudonym) live in a restricted access nation and number about 24,000. Sixty percent of them profess Christianity, 12% of whom claim to be evangelical. As an agricultural people, they primarily cultivate cassava and depend on hunting and fishing for their food sources.
When Baptist missionaries arrived in their region in 1974, the Phyle people generously gave the foreigners permission to enter their land and live among them. Six long years passed without any evidence of spiritual fruit, but in 1980, almost an entire village responded to the gospel message. The churches among the Phyle began growing and reproducing, now numbering about two dozen.
Expelled from the village in the 1980s, the missionaries moved to a larger town nearby and began translating the New Testament into the people's language. BI senior translation consultant Dr. Henry Osborn performed a quality check on the translation work when the missionaries had almost completed translating the Gospel of Matthew. At that point, BI adopted this New Testament translation project in December 1997, with BI senior translation consultant Ross Hodsdon working alongside these translators until his death. Today, BI consultants continue to work with the missionaries and translator to complete the project, with national pastors serving as the Read-and-Review Committee.
Following the completion and checking of each book of the New Testament, the Phyle believers photocopy and bind the manuscript and distribute it among their churches. In this way, they have benefited from the Word in their language throughout the translation process, as they now have access to twenty-five of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. Neighboring people groups who speak different dialects from Phyle are still able to read and understand this translation without difficulty. Despite numerous and various complications, including severe illnesses and the eventual expulsion of missionaries from the country, the translation work steadily presses on towards completion.
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