LHF is beginning work in a new language of Nigeria, Hausa. Hausa is spoken by about 67 million Nigerians, including Muslims in the northern region of the country.
Translation will likely begin with an LHF publication called Guidelines for Sharing the Faith With Your Muslim Friend, as well as the Small Catechism.
“The Hausa-speaking people are largely Muslims in need of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Rev. Dr. Michael Adoga, one of LHF’s project coordinators in Nigeria. “We hope the books will engage the Hausa speakers, primarily in teaching Christian faith from the Lutheran perspective and also providing skills on how to reach Muslims with the gospel of Christ.”
“The approach that Nigerian Lutherans are taking toward the evangelization of Muslims is very good, very gentle,” said Rev. Dr. Dinku Bato, LHF’s coordinator for African projects. “Some Christian groups are very aggressive and irritate the already volatile situation by doing things like tearing up a Koran in front of the Muslims. That is not right. We should be reaching out in love and respect, trying to win their ears. Translating and publishing books looks slow, but through relationships and friendship, that is what is most effective and will be most fruitful.”
Finding new translators
Expanding work in more of Nigeria’s 300 languages is also being explored by working with students at the JEM Lutheran Seminary, where Rev. Adoga is rector.
“More than 300 languages are spoken in Niger, and most don’t have even the Six Chief Parts of the Small Catechism,” explained Rev. Bato. “There is a very big need, and Dr. Adoga shared the idea that perhaps more translation work could be done by the students at the seminary.”
“Thanks be to God, we [at the seminary] are presently revising our academic handbook,” Rev. Adoga said. “We’re making plans to offer a course titled ‘Principles of Translation,’ teaching the skills necessary for accurate translation of Christian literature. This course would help locate and educate potential student-translators of Christian literature, including the Small Catechism, the entirety of our Book of Concord, and other Christian materials that will be useful for teaching and nurturing the Christian faith in the mother tongues of the people in Nigeria.”