The Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF) recently announced that it began distributing in East Africa The Book of Concord translated into the Swahili language, and also that it has produced three versions of Luther’s Small Catechism in Chinese.
In October, Bishop Martin Shao of the Northern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) welcomed 300 participants in a two-day conference to mark the Swahili translation. “In two years the ELCT will celebrate its 50th anniversary. This Book of Concord is the beginning of greater things to come.”
Although more than 150 million people speak Swahili and Lutheran missionaries have been in East Africa for more than a century, this is the first time The Book of Concord has been available in the language of the people. Some 300 copies were distributed over the two days and plans were made for introductory seminars on The Book of Concord throughout Tanzania next year. Swahili also is spoken in Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in other countries.
The Rev. Dr. Anssi Simojoki, former director of LHF-Africa, served as the lead translator on the project. “The Book of Concord takes on a life when it is published in the language of the people,” he said. “Its content is the pure Gospel, and wherever this book is opened and studied, it takes command and begins to shape personalities and people, congregations and churches.”
The three new catechisms in Chinese are a pocket-sized edition that contains the six chief parts of the catechism; the complete Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation; and a revised version of the Chinese-English side-by-side catechism first printed five years ago.
More than two million Chinese currently live in the United States, making them the third-largest immigrant group in the country.
“American pastors and congregations have long recognized the need to reach out to them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but the language barrier has often hindered their ability to do so,” according to an LHF press release. “The Chinese-English side-by-side edition has proven to be especially useful in the United States, helping pastors and laypeople who do not speak Chinese to better explain the Christian faith. The book also helps Chinese who are learning English to practice the language while learning the principles of the faith.”
“There is so much potential for this catechism to help the Chinese people and pastors understand the Bible and God’s plan of salvation for all people, through His Son, Jesus Christ,” said the Rev. Ted NaThalang, LHF’s coordinator for Southeast Asia projects.
The Rev. James Fandrey, LHF’s executive director, also sees the potential. “Very exciting opportunities are arising in the area of Chinese missions,” he said. “This will be an excellent resource both in the United States and abroad. Pastors, international students, caring neighbors, co-workers and travelers are all encouraged to share this important book.”
To order Chinese catechisms, call the LHF office at 800-554-0723 or send an email to info@LHFmissions.org. There is no charge for the books, a gift to LHF of $5 to $10 per book helps defray shipping costs.
The Lutheran Heritage Foundation is an LCMS Recognized Service Organization that translates, publishes, distributes and introduces Lutheran books in more than 70 countries and 80 languages.
Posted Jan. 6, 2012