On May 28, the Musgum community in Cameroon experienced a precious moment: the arrival of the very first Bible in their language. “Musgum people, the Word of God belongs to you! Through this you are blessed,” said Rev Isaac Sissou during the dedication ceremony.
The ceremony had taken months of careful preparation by Musgum speakers determined to give a fitting welcome to their Bible despite the atmosphere of insecurity in the region caused by deadly Boko Haram attacks. All precautions were taken to ensure the success of the celebrations, including a 50-strong police presence and a security committee who closely monitored the situation.
The day before the celebrations, in the early hours of the morning, the new Bibles were loaded onto two trucks outside the Bible Society’s office in Maroua. The town’s Musgum Christians, including a good number of Bible Society staff, then climbed into trucks and vehicles, all travelling together in a convoy of around 20.
A huge crowd
Three hours later, they arrived in the town of Pouss, accompanied by around 50 motorcyclists, who had ridden out to join them for the final 20km. A huge crowd of around 5,000 people, who had travelled from different regions, was gathered outside the Lutheran Church Fellowship, where the dedication of the new Bible was due to take place. Men, women and children sang, danced and waved branches in the air, reminiscient of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
The 20,000 Musgum Christians, most of whom live in this Muslim majority region of Cameroon, had waited 45 years for this day. And how they celebrated! They had received the New Testament in 1964, and through God’s grace they now had the whole Bible.
A dream come true
For Daniel, being able to experience this moving moment was a dream come true. “I’m going to buy four Bibles – one for me, one for my wife and one each for my two children,” he smiled. To get his Bibles, Daniel would have to wait until the end of the launch ceremony, which was packed with speeches, singing and dancing and, of course, the solemn moment when the new Bible was officially presented to the people.
At last, the Musgum Bible – the Word of God, “Du nak sdik na wini Alaw” – wrapped in a cloth and placed on a tray, was carried into the midst of the people by a woman, preceded by a group of traditional dancers. She handed it to Bible Society of Cameroon General Secretary Luc Gnowa, who removed the cloth and held it up for people to see, saying, “Here is your Bible.” As the crowd cheered and applauded, Mr Gnowa smiled with joy. He has helped oversee this project since its beginnings 14 years ago.
Church leaders from Cameroon and Chad who attended the launch received copies of the new Bible, as did each of the translators, reviewers and those who provided financial support for the project.
“I’m proud to have my Bible”
At the end of the ceremony, people hurried to get copies of the new Bible. “I’m proud to have my Bible,” said Joël, who had travelled from the nearby town of Doukoula. He began reading it with obvious pleasure.
Gaston, who had travelled a bit further, from Guider, bought four for his family. “At last, we see the fruit of our efforts, the culmination of the hard work of our elders,” he noted. “Our Bible is here!”
Let’s pray now for the Musgum community, that they put into practise the message of Rev Isaac Sissou to draw from the source of life, to read and make known this Bible, which is ‘a force which transforms’.