Marching through the little Samburu village, our procession of 150 or so brightly dressed Believers sang triumphantly. Onlookers stared with surprise and wonder as the ram’s horn blew in successive blasts, giving cadence to our march. Our conspicuous assembly was proudly heading to the local church parading jubilantly; making sure even the dead heard our advance. Our procession announced the coming of something very special, the delivery of 7 new books of the New Testament that had recently been translated into the Samburu language.
As we approached the little church, school children dressed in their wine colored uniforms excitedly met the arriving party. Colors fit for a wedding were plentiful as the groups of women wore cheerfully colored clothes. Bright fuchsia, worn by many women, brought a festive air to the scene. They wore their ornate beads with pride, signifying the importance of the event.
Coming to the site of the church courtyard, we assembled and prayed. The speaker, aided by the sound equipment from the local radio station, directed the group to their seats: distinguished guests under the awaiting tent, local women under the shade of a nearby tree and the school children sitting patiently under the strength of the hot sun, seemingly oblivious to its direct rays.
The ceremony began shortly afterwards with introductions that took well over an hour. A prominent politician was introduced along with Game Park personnel and a host of Bible Translators, Pastors and missionaries who gathered for the event.
After introductions, radiantly dressed choirs began to come forward to sing, from the young to the old. Perhaps the most fascinating was one of the lady choirs that sang while simultaneously making their beaded necklaces bounce up and down in orchestrated harmony.
After several hours the festive atmosphere turned serious as the 7 Books of the New Testament were themselves brought out in a joyful procession to the table and placed in front of the awaiting assembly. We were to remain in our various locations during the procession, but most could not contain themselves and came forward to surround the arriving books.
The simple, Purple-covered book containing 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Galatians, Philemon, and 1,2,3 John were prayed over by all in the solemn moment.
A pastor then preached from the book in the Samburu language sharing what it meant for him as a Samburu to hear the Word of God in his own tongue. This must have been what it was like for Germans 500 years ago when Martin Luther translated the Scriptures into German and the people could actually hear and read it in their own tongue.
Rain lightly fell from the sky as the ceremony neared conclusion, aptly signifying a final blessing from our Lord of the festive celebration. He had brought His Word to His people, and while the New Testament continues to be translated for final completion, His servants celebrated with a joyful noise!