Despite severe economic, social and environmental issues facing Zimbabwe, the Bible Society is continuing to fulfil its mission to provide the life-transforming Word of God to people who need it. However, it is not without its challenges.

“Yes, we are going through a tough time”, admits Chipo Maringe, General Secretary of the Bible Society of Zimbabwe (BSZ), “It is very difficult to operate as a Bible Society when there is no cash available. This makes it very difficult for us to buy fuel for our vehicles and for our generator to give our office and shop electricity.”

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a deep economic crisis that is affecting everyone in the country. It is estimated that only between 5-10% of the population is officially employed, leaving the other 90+% to scrape a living any way they can. For many this is as a street vendor or in most rural cases, subsistence farming.

And with the rampant inflation causing prices of even the most basic necessities to rise, it is making it near-impossible for Chipo and her team to plan ahead.

“The inflation makes it so difficult when it comes to our budgets,” she explains. “We can’t budget for the next six months because we don’t know what the situation will be. We are having to operate on a day-to-day basis.”

Chipo also worries about her team and their safety as they travel around the country, visiting projects, often on dangerous roads in unsuitable vehicles. Translation Officer Sheila Chamburuka described a visit to a translation project where the Bible Society car “twisted three times” on the sandy road, nearly veering off it altogether, as happens quite often to cars on the rural roads.

Yet despite the many challenges that BSZ is facing, the team are determined to continue to make God’s Word available to as many people as possible.

Thousands of Zimbabweans are able to access Scripture through its Braille and audio projects, and all three of its translation projects are making good progress.

The Chikunda Bible is scheduled to be completed in 2023, meeting the need of around 160,000 native speakers in northern Zimbabwe alone, let alone communities of Chikunda-speakers in neighbouring countries of Zambia and Mozambique.

The region where Chikunda is the first language of many Zimbabweans is one of the least developed in the country. Up till now, and until the new translation is published, Chikunda-speaking Bible-readers have to read the Scriptures in another language, usually Shona, English or Chewa.

The project was first started in 2011, when church leaders approached the Bible Society for help in translating the first full Bible into Chikunda to meet the needs of speakers in the three countries.

Church leaders asked the Bible Society to translate both the Old and New Testaments, and to ensure that a wide variety of Chikunda speakers were involved, after another organisation produced a Chikunda New Testament that was not well received.

Now, four translators are working tirelessly to finish this vital translation which will bring so much joy and hope to so many living in a country that is going through a very dark time.

These translators, three men and a woman, come from different church denominations, and are supported by a team of 20 reviewers.

All are passionate about making the Bible available in their mother tongue, despite the challenges they face in carrying out the work.

Friday 6th March is World Day of Prayer, and the main prayer focus is for Zimbabwe.

Will you commit to praying for:

  • The people of Zimbabwe, who are currently facing severe economic, social and political problems, not to mention one of the worst droughts in the country’s history.
  • Bible Society staff in Zimbabwe, who are still committed to doing God’s work despite the pressures that they are facing.
  • These new translations. Give God thanks that he continues to work in times of trouble, and pray also that these new Bibles will bring much joy and enlightenment to so many.
  • The translators – they have given so much time and energy to these projects because they believe it is so important to their people, pray for God’s hand of protection, energy, wisdom and discernment over them as they aim to complete this work.

To find out more about World Day of Prayer and how you can get involved here in Scotland, go to their website.