by Kathryn Asiku, edited by Martin Diprose
In Buliisa District, Uganda, members of the local community, from every major religion, young and old, flocked to the New Testament dedication. Some travelled long distances to attend, determined to be part of the celebration and to buy a copy of the Lugungu New Testament. During the service, pupils from a local primary school gave readings from the new Scriptures. Their confidence and clarity caused great excitement among the congregation. As many people heard God’s Word in their language for the first time, they felt inspired to rush to buy copies. A local minister brought a message related to the theme of the day, taken from the book of Hebrews:
The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints, and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12 NIV).
The minister exhorted the community to allow the Word of God to take root in them, and to transform their lives. She challenged them to see the Lugungu Bible not as a trophy, but as life itself.
So great was the people’s desire to have these Lugungu New Testaments that by 11 am all copies which had been transported from Kampala were sold out! This left some people feeling disappointed and angry:
“Why did you leave copies in Kampala? Are you going to read them there?” complained one.
“I am not going to church on Sunday without a Lugungu Bible!” protested another.
An urgent phone call was made:
“Please send a driver with another thousand copies – we don’t have enough!”
Early the following morning, more New Testaments arrived. A crowd of people was already there waiting. The local radio station had announced that the Bibles were coming, and had received many calls from listeners in response. A call came from a pastors’ conference in another town requesting Lugungu Bibles; they were paid for by mobile money and sent on a taxi immediately.
When the team arrived at the radio station to deliver the New Testaments, the guard on duty opened the gate and greeted them. Although he had not attended the launch, he had heard about the Lugungu New Testament. He watched with interest as the young radio pre-senter opened one of the boxes and took out a brand new copy of the Lugungu New Testament. The guard, whispering, asked him to read a verse from Matthew. The presenter read the verse aloud while the guard listened closely: ‘What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?’ (Matthew 16:26).
The guard urged the man to read it again, which he did. Seeing the guard’s interest, the team decided to give him a New Testament. The man leapt with joy, knelt on the ground, raised his hands in the air with excitement, laughed, and hugged the Bible to his chest.
“I’ve done so many bad things in my life,” he said, “but now salvation has come to me. The Lord is with me!” Still kneeling and swaying, he called out the name of Jesus with great joy. Then he got up and started dancing, unable to hide his excitement. Someone asked if the guard knew how to read.
“No,” said the presenter, “but now he will be asking the young people in his home to read that Bible to him.”
This incident was very moving, and a powerful testimony to the impact of God’s Word in the mother tongue. The audio recording of the Lugungu New Testament will enable even more people to have access to the Word of God in their language. Let us pray that many more people will experience the touch of God on their lives through hearing and reading the Lugungu Scriptures.