Around Christmas the Bible Society of Eswatini asked me to meet at our offices as they wanted to present a donation of Bibles to our diocese. Little could I imagine what the donation was all about.
We met outside so as to be able to keep “social distance” in these COVID19 times.
Three new editions of the Bible were presented. The first one was the “African women devotional Bible”. Women from all over the continent commented on passages related to women.
The Africa Women Devotional Bible (AWDB) is a collaborative project of the Bible Societies in Africa who have come together to develop a Devotional Bible by African Women. It is a Scripture resource addressing circumstances and questions which African Christian Women face in their daily lives. While the Bible will be suitable for individual devotional reading, it is also expected to be used as a resource for training and equipping church and women leaders in addressing issues women face whether in urban or in rural areas or those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is a very important edition in our patriarchal context where there is always the temptation to use the Bible as an instrument of oppression and not of liberation of women.
The second one is “The Bible for the deaf”. Aware of the work of Fr Mark James OP with the deaf community in the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Bible Society Eswatini decided to support him in his service and, at the same time, make sure the Bibles reaches the deaf. The “motto” of the Bible Society is “The Bible for everyone”. We might not think about it but one of the challenges of the Bible is that it uses a difficult language to be translated in sign language. The Bible for the deaf addresses that challenge. In some or many cases, deaf people might have not been able to complete school or might not be familiar with the English language. This edition might also help them read it. The Bible Society of South Africa has just launched The Bible for the Deaf, a Bible specifically developed for English-speaking deaf people in South Africa and Africa. The Bible is written in basic English and features extensive footnotes, a word list, drawings and easy navigation with icons in the text and headers.
The final one was presented at a different function and it is the New Testament in Siswati with comments. It is a project that was developed over the years. Single gospels had been printed but now a full New Testament edition is available. The “once again” happily surprised refers to the fact that when on my 60th birthday I called for a blood donation campaign, the Bible Society Eswatini donated 60 Bibles. Each one of the first 60 people who donated blood received a very beautiful edition of the Bible in English.
We are deeply grateful to the Bible Society Eswatini and to the many benefactors that make these editions possible, making sure that God’s Word reaches everyone in their own language and personal situation.