Sara Kaba Naa Bible & Literacy

  • Location: Chad
  • Target Completion Date: 2025

The Sara Kaba Naa people live primarily in southwestern Chad with a few thousand residing in the Central African Republic. They number between 35,000 and 39,000, with 74% professing Christianity, 28% of whom claim to be evangelical, 24% practicing animism, and 2% following Islam. The Sara Kaba Naa churches see a higher literacy rate than the remaining population because of the availability of the Scriptures, literacy primers, and Old Testament storybooks in their language.

When Baptist Mid-Missions missionaries first traveled to Kyabe, to the northeast of Sarh, they communicated with the Sara Kaba Naa through schoolboys who knew French or Sango. The missionaries translated some simple songs and verses into the Sara Kaba Naa language and started writing a dictionary. Later, another BMM missionary began translating the Gospel of John and some hymns. BMM missionaries Nancy Knopf and Ada Temple began to seriously study the language and translate the New Testament using a new orthography required by the government. Unfortunately, translation work stopped when the government forced the churches to close and expelled the missionaries in 1973. When the churches finally opened again in 1975, one pastor, Moses Taramba, felt the Lord leading him to complete the New Testament translation. The return of the missionaries in the early 1980s, including Ada Temple, led to significant progress on the translation.

Ada Temple approached Bibles International in 1986 with the manuscript of the newly translated Sara Kaba Naa New Testament that she and another woman had finished editing and proofreading. After seeing evidence of Ada’s exceptional linguistic gifts, BI invited Ada Temple to join the ministry permanently. At that point, BI came alongside the Sara Kaba Naa New Testament translation project and helped to complete it in 1988, holding a dedication in Kyabe at the Southern Chad Association of Baptist Churches annual meeting on January 7-8, 1989. Former BI Director Fred Carlson delivered the dedication message, along with chief translator Moses Tarambe and Ada Temple as special speakers. The closing prayer expressed the day’s sentiment: "This ceremony has been a thing of much joy. In the past we have had to read the Word in another language and have it changed for us. Thank you, Father, to call down your blessing upon it. You have given, Father, the Word in our own language."

The translation of the New Testament has caused the church to grow among the Sara Kaba Naa. One national gave this testimony: "Since the arrival of the New Testament in Sara Kaba Naa, there has been an increase in the number of churches and Christians. All this because teaching has become clear in our New Testament. Some churches that had been closed since the difficulties of 1975 were reopened."

After the completion of the New Testament translation, the Sara Kaba Naa expressed a desire for the complete Bible in their language. With this goal in mind, BI consultants work with chief translator Gali Simon and assistant translators Ngagui Gatta, Guindja Nehemie, and Gali Marcel on the Sara Kaba Naa Old Testament towards their projected completion date.

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