Keys of the Kingdom
Supporting Bible translation as language technical consultant, and editor
January 2017

Lama Scripture progress

Lama translators
Lama OT Translation team: Hans, Adji, Medjamna, Gnelosse, Paul

The Lama Old Testament translation team (Adji, Medjamna, and Gnelosse) continue to work hard at completing book after book. We are blessed that our colleague and friend Hans Hoddenbagh travels to Togo from the Netherlands to consultant-check their work or works with them via Skype. Hans says that the translation is excellent and well adapted to their culture. He believes it will take another four to five years to finish the entire Bible, depending on health, the availability of consultants (a perennial challenge and the reason they cannot go faster!), and on how much time it will take to do a slight revision of the New Testament. At this point the draft of the entire OT is complete and 54 percent is consultant-checked—a great milestone for the team.

It was interesting to see the team’s progress chart, showing the various drafts checked off as they are finished. One man does the initial draft, and then it is checked by the three men together before meeting with Hans. The difficulty of each book is rated as levels 2 to 5. Examples of level 2 books: Esther, Jonah, and most of the narrative history books, such as Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and six more. The most difficult level 5 books include: Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and ten more prophetical books.

As final corrections are entered, Neal, here in North Carolina, can follow each day’s progress online via Paratext. Once a book is completed, he reads through it, looking for any typos or inconsistencies. While he is not doing a detailed exegetical check, he does come across points now and then that he discusses with the team via email and sometimes Skype. So far, in the last three months, he has read Genesis through 1 Samuel.

We were happy to see Paul Humber, a translation consultant-in-training who is doing translation work himself in Congo, come work with Hans and the team in checking Isaiah. It is ironic that Neal has helped Paul long-distance with Paratext in recent years, and now Paul is helping the Lama.

Hans told us of one correction made in Isaiah 21, which mentions a lookout: “And the lookout shouted, ‘Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower; every night I stay at my post.’” The verb that first comes to mind to accompany lookout in Lama is sleep, because that is what home watchmen or guards in Togo normally and acceptably do. So the men wrote: “every night I sleep at my post.” After some negotiation with Hans, they were convinced that in other cultures watchmen actually do stay awake, so they agreed to say “stand at my post.” They all had a good laugh together over that.

Lama Scripture on phones

It is one thing to translate the Word of God but the distribution of it is still another challenge. Cell phones are ubiquitous in even northern Togo where most of the Lama people live. The Lama literacy program coordinator, Gaston Nfa, is working to get the Word on phones.

In 2006 the entire Lama NT was audio-taped by a team from Faith Comes By Hearing. Now Gaston is matching the audio to each specific verse so it can be read and heard simultaneously on phones. Many of the actors who read the parts are former students of Gaston’s literacy classes, which is thrilling to him. He says he is blessed greatly himself in listening to the audio and recognizes what a good job the translators have done. He is now halfway finished. He thanks all of you who have partnered with us to bring this about. We are thankful for Gaston, a capable, hard-working university graduate, who is reaching the Lama all over Togo, along with his assistant, Albert, helping them learn to read for the first time or transfer to Lama from French, the official language of Togo.

Bible translation in Togo and Benin

Since we left Togo in January 1993, there have been ten New Testaments published in Togo and neighboring Benin. Seven projects went on to translate the Old Testament and of those two are completed. There are eleven other languages presently working on the NT of which four will be completed within a year or so. From over fifty expatriates working in Togo and Benin in the early 1990s, there are now only three in Togo and four couples in Benin. Togolese and Beninese are now serving as leaders, administrative staff, translators, literacy coordinators, and consultants. What we prayed for for many years has come about by God’s grace and provision!

Book editing

Since early October, I, Carol, have been blessed with the opportunity to edit two books for missionary colleague friends. One is nearly the length of a novel and covers the history of a translation project in Nepal. The other is a collection of over sixty-five travel stories and adventures. In early January I will be accepting a new parttime assignment. I have been asked to edit books for SIL International, which deals with the linguistics and language development side of our work. There are about twenty-five books in the pipeline and at least a couple of them concern life in Africa. So I am very thankful and excited about this opening the Lord has made for me. I am also polishing some parts of the Lama-French-English dictionary. With over 9,000 entries, that will take a while.

Our sincere thanks to each of you for your prayers and gifts. May God bless each one of you in special ways! We appreciate you and love you.

Carol and Neal Brinneman

If you desire to contribute to our ministry, go to or send a check to Wycliffe Bible Translators, PO Box 628200, Orlando FL 32862-8200, and enclose a separate note stating, “Preference for the Wycliffe ministry of Neal and Carol Brinneman.” Thank you!