The following is a report from James and Jess Lucas in Mongu, Zambia, about the start of the Luke Partnership in Western Province that I had the privilege of visiting last month. The partnership of various churches has the desire to start Bible translation projects amongst the various language groups of the vast province.

Kwangwa speakers during an interview at Katoya

Kwamashi speaking children in church building (Fuo, Shangombo)

Dear Friends,

I once heard a touching and true story about a young man living in Mongu. When he was just a child, the Jesus Film (Silozi version) was shown in his village. He grew up amazed and proud that Jesus was from his tribe and spoke his language. (He discovered only later that Jesus spoke many languages.) Today, he is an accomplished leader.

The common factor in the pictures above is that they are all young people from two of Western Zambia’s several tribes, the Kwangwas and Kwamashis. Sadly, in contrast to the story above, neither of these two tribes have any access to the life-changing hope and power of God’s Word, the Bible in their language. According to a 2004 survey, there are several language groups in the Western Province of Zambia (representing tens or even hundreds of thousands of people) which may still need a Bible Translation. In response to this problem, we have begun an initiative, called “Luke Partnership, Western Zambia”.

Objectives and Aims:

1. To identify languages (among all tribes) needing translation assistance through survey and research

2. Linking tribes, local churches and organizations to work together in local Bible translation projects.

3. To transform lives in Western Province of Zambia in each language and in each generation through God’s Word.

What Progress have we Made?

Survey Workshop Attendees in class. (Back left: Donald Mulimba, Project Coordinator)

Mark Woodward, Survey Trainer (Wycliffe UK) in Mongu

1. A Project Coordinator began (April)  We feel privileged to be joined in this work by such quality people like Donald Mulimba. Donald is an elder at Word Alive Worship Centre in Mongu. He has also worked with the Police as a detective for many years. His investigative skills will certainly help him in his work of researching tribes! His years of experience (professional, ministerial and educational) will also help him to be a great project coordinator.

2. Survey Training Workshop and Outreach in Villages (May)  Another highlight was having Mark Woodward (working with Wycliffe Bible Translators) visit us for 2 weeks all the way from England in the UK. Having worked in Tanzania for 3 years, Mark is experienced in surveying rural tribes and their various Languages.  Workshop attendees came from different churches and denominations in Mongu. We had such fun learning all the how to’s and applying them among the Kwangwa tribe from Lyomboko, Nalikwanda to Kabilimukanwa, Lui. There are still many months ahead of surveying several tribes in Western Province (and getting stuck in the sand!)

3. Permission from the Barotse Royal Establishment, Limilunga (June) Members of the Kwangwa tribe advised us to consult at the palace (especially since Kwangwa is considered a royal language). On June 4th Donald and James (missionary) visited the Ngambela (Prime Minister of Barotseland) and Kuta. They were pleased to give their blessing and permission to this project to survey and assist languages groups in Western Province. They have requested regular updates on the work.

Our Rough Plan:

1. Extensive research will be carried out among several tribes to discover

a) if a translation is really needed or is the Lozi translation adequate?

b) Will this language die or reduce in the next 10 years or is this language growing?

2. Members of various churches in the language area, select members to represent them on a planning committee. This committee doesn’t actually do the translation. They oversee the organization and select translators on behalf of their tribe.

3. These translators travel from their tribes and attend training in Mongu 3 times per year over 3-4 years. (We are grateful to the owners at Mutoya Campsite who have donated use of their campsite, classroom and kitchen facilities for these workshops)

4. At the end of these workshops, we aim to complete:

a) a Bible story series with Scripture portions

b) the GOSPEL OF LUKE (this is where we get the name ‘Luke Partnership’, the name of the project),

c) a JESUS FILM script and

d) a dubbed recording of the Jesus Film in their language

5. If this produces fruit in communities, the committee can choose to start a full scale New Testament project.

Partners in the work – We need you!

The task of completing a translation of the Bible into any language is something that no person can do alone! It is a task that belongs to the whole church in the language area and there must be a team of people sharing in the work. The work is therefore interdenominational.

Please join us! We invite you and your church …  … to formally become partners with us in this work… to visit us or request a visit where we can tell you more. (We are currently on the waiting list for office space at the NPF buildings)…. to select one or more of your members to represent your church on our organizing committee.

We look forward to hearing from you!

James Lucas. (+260) 979 496 059, Missionary, “Luke Partnership, Western Zambia”

  1. Dirkie Scheepers says:

    I am from South Africa. I am planning to travel from Botswana to Liuwa National Park in October 2011.
    How can I support you in your important mission.

    • Mark says:

      Hi Dirkie,
      Thanks for getting in touch. I would suggest contacting the team in Zambia directly and letting them know of your plans. They should be able to tell you how you can best support this translation project and other things that are happening too. Their website is

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