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Yesterday afternoon, BI adopted 3 new projects to begin working on: the Uppu Chin NT, the Taisun NT, and the Kokak Literacy. This puts BI at 45 active projects in 16 countries. Before these adoptions, we had 43 active projects. The Uppu Chin was already an adopted literacy project but is now also a NT project. Here’s a little more information about these three exciting projects.

Uppu Chin

Formerly known as the Chin Pong and then the Chinbon Chin, they are now recognized by the Myanmar government as the Uppu Chin. The Uppu reside in the mountainous regions of the southern Chin State, the Magway region and the Rakhine State. There are around 20,000 people who speak Uppu Chin as their mother tongue, but that was from a 1983 census, so surely there are more now.

The Joshua Project lists the 8% of the population as Evangelical (89% Protestant/10% Catholic) with the remaining religions nearly split between Buddhism and Animism. The groups the BI Research Team met with knew of between 300-500 believers and 11 Evangelical churches, of which 4 are Baptist. Uppu is used for preaching and other functions in their church services.

BI adopted the Uppu Chin for Literacy in 2004, producing their first primer in 2008 and then an OT Storybook in 2015. This work has been recognized by the government and BI’s orthography will be taught in the schools.

Since 2004, we have been hoping and praying that this literacy project would become a NT project, and that day has finally come! We would be producing the first Scripture portions for this language group!

Taisun NT

In early 1600 A.D., three Taisun elders relocated their settlements, one founding a new village named “Fahlam.” In 1892, the British took control of the region, naming the surrounding fields (which became their headquarters) “Falam.” That is why the newer town now bears that name and the old one is known as “Taisun Village.” It is estimated that there are 10,100 Taisun speakers in Myanmar and perhaps 3,000 more living abroad.

The Gospel came to the Taisun around 1927, when Pu Sim Tei accepted Christ as Savior and was baptized at the age of 20. When he returned to the village he shared this good news with his wife, Pi Tuk Hniang, who accepted Christ and was baptized. Today there are at least 8 fundamental Baptist churches, most of which are aligned with the Gospel Baptist association, and 20 additional churches of varying denominations. About 70% of the Taisun would claim to be Christian.

Taisun is listed as an official dialect of Falam Chin, with about 60% lexical similarity. Although Bible translation has been attempted before, those texts were lost before printing. Lord willing, we’ll give them their first completed NT!

Kokak literacy

Formerly known as the Koki Naga, the Kokak migrated to northern Myanmar from India some 200-250 years ago. Under British rule, the Kokak warred against the Tangkhul Naga and eventually lost, and are now considered a sub-tribe. They are slash and burn farmers, and have grown from a population of 2000 in 2004 to around two times that today.

In 1938, a Burmese evangelist returned from a trip to India with the Gospel. As a result, 15% of the Kokak consider themselves Christian (Joshua Project). Their 10 Baptist churches are part of the Myanmar Baptist Convention, although there is still Nat worship and Buddhism. Most Baptist churches “use” the Judson Burmese Bible, although few adults can read it. Their pastors translate into Kokak for preaching.

Their ultimate goal is to have the Bible in their language. However, their language is not written nor recognized yet by the government. In 2010, SIL did a linguistic study of the region, of which a copy was given to BI. Fortunately, the Kokak language has only a single dialect. By God’s grace, BI will begin with linguistic analysis and then move toward establishing a literacy program for them. And then, as the Lord blesses, we can hopefully start the NT for them.

 

Most of you may be aware that my department is already overwhelmed with projects right now, so you wonder how we can add 3 new projects. Well, we will begin slowly next year and then pick up the pace in 2018. We plan to begin with computer training, linguistic analysis, and some literacy work next year. Then in 2018, we will do translator training for the Uppu Chin and the Taisun.

As we get to the end of 2017, we will have finished 10 projects. One NT (Dagba) has already been submitted, and we are just waiting on the translation add-ons. Another Bible portions project (Warao NT with 17 OT books) has also been submitted, and we are just waiting on the Topical Index. Then, we hope to complete 5 more NTs (Inner Seraji, Luxembourgish, Songhay, Tagalog, and Tenek), 1 NT with Psalms/Proverbs (Akha), and a complete Bible (Falam Chin). We will also be completing a Bible revision (Manipuri). Only 1 of these will definitely continue the translation work (Akha OT), so we will drop down 9 projects by the end of 2017. That will put us at 36 projects. That means we don’t need to worry about having too many projects; instead, we should be wondering what else we can do. And we are researching to determine that very issue!

Pray for us as we begin these new projects and look for others. Pray also for the new language groups that we will begin working with.

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