The long journey of the Bunong New Testament shows the incredible hope and comfort that God’s Word can offer people during difficult times and the transformation that spreading His Word can have on the lives of many.

During the Vietnam War many lives were changed, loved ones were lost and people had to flee their homes and try to rebuild their lives elsewhere. It was a terrifying time for many people, filled with fear and uncertainty. However for a number of people, these traumatising events led them to God and hope was found.

Tot Nhernh, 93, was one of the many people who became displaced during the war but was lucky enough to encounter the Word of God and have his life changed forever.

Mr Nhernh vividly remembers having to flee his village in north-east Cambodia, alongside his family, when the war began to spread over the border and bombs began to fall upon their village. This was an extremely traumatising time for Tot’s family and like others, he had not only seen his entire village destroyed but he didn’t have enough time to make offerings to the spirits. As a result, his family was filled with fear and despair. They belong to the Bunong tribe, and like all the hill tribes in Cambodia, they are traditionally animist and regularly sacrifice livestock to the spirits.

However, hope was not lost; many Vietnamese people began to visit the desperate refugees. They not only offered the refugees help and comfort but many also began to share the Good News; God loved them and had saved them through his son, Jesus. Mr Nhernh alongside several Bunong refugees found freedom and peace in what they heard and became Christians. They began to learn about their new faith during the time they spent in Vietnam.

When the war ended, Mr Nhernh could not wait to return home and share the Gospel. Many of the refugees, who had given their lives to God, began to plant small churches in the Bunong villages and also evangelised other hill tribes, including the Krung and Tampaun. The villagers had lived in fear of the spirits and had offered them costly sacrifices so were overjoyed when they found out about the freedom they could have in Jesus.

Work had begun in the 1960s to translate the Scriptures into Bunong but unfortunately this work was disrupted by the war and the manuscripts were lost. There were small portions of Scripture in Bunong which were published before the war but these were only available in Roman script, which the Bunong in Vietnam understand but not those in Cambodia, who use Khmer script.

Mr Nhernh and other Christians in Cambodia continued to share God’s Word by simply telling the stories of the Bible. People began to write out the few Bunong Scripture booklets that were available into Khmer script so that these could be shared out amongst the Cambodian Bunong people.

After the war, the communist rule made it very difficult for the Church in Cambodia and in particular for ethnic minorities like the Bunong. Despite this, Christianity continued to grow and today around 10% of Cambodia’s Bunong people are Christians and around 75% of the Bunong in Vietnam are Christians.

Young Bunong Christians excited about the Bunong New Testament

Young Bunong Christians excited about the Bunong New Testament

This May, around 50 years after the first attempt to translate the Scriptures into Bunong was stopped by the war, the Bunong people of Cambodia and Vietnam, with help from the Bible Society in Cambodia, will finally receive the very first New Testament to be printed in both Khmer and Roman scripts. The Bunong Christians are delighted that these Scripture translations will finally be complete and that they will be able to own a copy of The New Testament in their heart language for the first time.

It is incredible to hear about the transformation that took place amongst the hill tribes in Cambodia and the many lives that were saved for the Lord through the Word of God. Please pray that the new translations of Scriptures for the Bunong people will continue to transform many more lives in Cambodia and Vietnam as more people continue to spread God’s Word.