The Rito (also known as the Luto) people live in the southwestern part of Chad and across the border in the northern part of the Central African Republic. Approximately 50% of the population profess Christianity, while the remaining 50% follow animist practices. When Bibles International first learned of the Rito people and their language in 1986, no written form of their language existed yet. Pastors read from the Sango Bible, but they translated the words into Rito while preaching to their congregations. Desperate for a Bible in their language, two generations of Rito believers had prayed for someone to help them translate God's Word into Rito. As the men met with BI personnel concerning a possible translation project, they expressed their deep desire for their children and grandchildren to possess the Word of God in their language, acknowledging the many years necessary to finish the entire Bible, but willing to work hard for their people.
When BI received the recommendation to adopt the Rito New Testament project in May 1995, Rito believers numbered about 2,000 in Chad and 17,000 in the CAR. After developing an orthography for the written form of Rito, BI began training translators and literacy workers in 1996. Additionally, BI literacy consultants Clarissa Barton and Ada Temple worked with Rito speakers to develop the literacy primer, which was published in 1997. Recognizing the tremendous need for literacy among the people once they acquired copies of the translated Scriptures, the Rito utilized the literacy primer to teach reading classes in their churches. Translation work began in 1997, with Kounandji Gilbert as the Rito translator and Ndjoni Elisee as a later addition to the translation team.
Rito believers joyously celebrated the dedication of the Rito New Testament on November 21, 2015, in Sido-Bemadji in the southwestern part of Chad. More than 20 years of hard work by dedicated translators, consultants, and literacy workers fulfilled the dream of generations of Rito believers to read the Word of God for themselves. Unfortunately, due to political unrest, Rito believers in the CAR remain unable to access the Rito New Testament. BI and Rito believers tirelessly pray and search for a way to bring the Scriptures to the Rito people in the CAR despite the closed borders. Literacy improvement efforts continue among the Rito people.
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