Rawang New Testament & Literacy

  • Location: Myanmar
  • Target Completion Date: 2027

An isolated people group named Rawang, numbering around 63,000, lives in the extreme north of Myanmar, bordering China. Eighty percent of the population profess Christianity, 45% of whom claim to be evangelical. As a primarily agricultural community with little or no technology available and a 30-60% literacy rate, the older generation remains more literate in Rawang than the younger population, because primary schools do not teach the language.

Baptist missionaries originally evangelized the Rawang people in the early 1900s. Bibles International made contact with the Rawang people through the ministry of Baptist Mid-Missions missionary James Garlow in 1985. Seeing the critical need for literacy improvement, Dr. Henry and Anne Osborne, along with BI literacy consultant Clarissa Barton, published a literacy primer in 1991. However, the literacy work remained dormant for over ten years because of other Rawang groups attempting their own literacy endeavors.

BI reconnected with the Rawang people through the efforts of Dr. Timothy Mang in 2002. Several church associations requested additional literacy materials and a new translation that would replace the current paraphrased Rawang Bible, which many of the Rawang deemed inadequate. BI formally adopted the Rawang Bible translation project in 2012 and agreed to produce the requested Writers' Handbook in 2013.

BI literacy consultants worked diligently with the Rawang literature committee, producing a Writers' Handbook in 2019. The Writers' Handbook will aid in the development of their writing as well as helping to produce a higher quality translation and literacy materials in a shorter time. It will also enable the Rawang believers to write gospel literature for themselves in the future. After printing the Old Testament Storybook 1 in 2015, the literacy team sent Storybook 2 to print in 2020, while putting the finishing touches and final edits on Storybook 3, anticipating printing in 2020 as well.

The main Rawang translator James Synsar, with the assistance of BI resident consultants, produced a trial edition of the books of Matthew and James in 2019.

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