Local to Global
A Growing Chorus
Listen to a Bagat worship song here
“Come let us go, come let us go;
let us go with the Word of God.
We will go to different villages and share the Word of God.
Let us give glory to God
and tell all of them the only true name is Jesus…”
The words above are a translation, taken from an Indian language called Bagat* and put into English so that you can read them and understand. Asaph*, a Bagat believer, wrote this song for his own people just last year. It is one of more than fifty Bagat songs composed at a recent ethnomusicology workshop, now beginning to ring out across one northern Indian state.
These are some of the first sweet sounds of truly Bagat worship—worship in the Bagat language, by Bagat people. A new voice joins the global chorus of worship as the 1.8 million Bagat begin to take hold of the Scriptures in their language.
Roots for Church Planting
George Mathew was a student in his final year at a seminary in the state of Kerala, India when he first heard of the Bagat, a people group living more than 2,000 kilometers north of Kerala. Bagat is a regional language; speakers live in villages and towns throughout the northern state, often interspersed with speakers of other languages.
George and his wife Becky already had a vision to move to northern India as church planters.
“Our plan was to form a church and to equip the believers as much we could,” George remembers.
At a small prayer meeting at seminary, George and Becky learned of the need for Bible translation. They began to hear the testimonies of others working in northern India. As they listened and prayed, George and Becky realized that their call was to translate the Bible. This would be their way of equipping believers and building the church. They joined Wycliffe India, and in 2008, with their two young children—son Joel and daughter Angela—they moved north.
George and Becky realized that their work would be closely intertwined with the work of other teams and organizations in their region, including NLCI (New Life Computer Institute) and IEM (Indian Evangelical Mission). Bagat is a dialect, part of a cluster of related languages that, all together, encompass around 26 million people. The dialects differ enough to need their own Scripture translations and separate literacy efforts, but they overlap enough that teams can work together and share information in areas like ethnomusicology, storying and dictionary development.
Today, Scripture translation in these related languages is beginning—and local believers, mother-tongue speakers, are jumping in, taking on the challenge and blessing the work with their gifts.
For many years, followers of Christ in this region have been led by pastors from ‘outside,’ from other areas of India. “Churches are there,” George explains, “but many of the church leaders are from south India. There have been very few local leaders.”
“But now,” he continues eagerly, “these leaders are giving biblical training to Bagat people, equipping them and passing on responsibility.” New village churches are taking root and growing in strength. They need the Scriptures.
Discipled by a local pastor, Asaph and Joseph became believers in 2010. They are the first Christians in their families. Recognizing their potential as leaders and translators, their pastor introduced them to George and Becky. Today, Asaph and Joseph have completed the first phase of Mother-Tongue Translator training.
“They are growing in confidence,” George and Becky report. “After this training both mother-tongue translators shared how God guided them during each session. Both of them told us the experience they acquired from training was remarkable, and spoke of how they experienced God’s love, guidance and protection throughout the course.”
Training in Bible study methods and translation principles will continue over the months and years to come, nourishing the translators as they grow in their love and understanding of God’s Word. Time spent in prayer for the Bagat people and time spent sharing the Gospel, person-to-person, infuse the training with a vision of how God is using, and will use, His Word for His glory among the Bagat.
Prayer is essential. Eighty percent of Bagat people are Hindus, and this area is known for its strong anti-Christian movements. Hindu fundamentalist groups discourage villagers from listening to Christians or asking questions about the Bible. Outsiders suspected of involvement in Christian ministry face discrimination and ostracism.
Yet in this climate of tension and opposition, the Lord is tuning instruments for a new symphony, a song increasing in volume, overflowing with praise. It is a song that is distinctly Bagat, yet it echoes the voices of worshippers down the ages, across the earth:
“Let us sing the true name of Jesus and the Word of God,
let us go.
Let us go and share the Word of God, and let us go together.”
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佐治和碧琪知道他們的工作與該區其他人員和機構的息息相關，當中包括New Life Computer Institute和Indian Evangelical Mission等。巴賈特語是一種方言，跟其他多種相關語言形成一大語言群組，使用人口共約二千六百萬。這些語言不盡相同，需要各自的聖經翻譯項目，但因著好些相近之處，可以讓宣教人員在民族音樂、講聖經故事和字典編製等計劃上分享資料。