There is still a long way to go with the project but you can at least see some of the work that’s been going on over the last months. Take a look here at the website www.stepbible.org If you click on the view tab, then go down to language and select Swahili you’ll be able to see my efforts on the user interface for Swahili.
When we were back in UK last year, we were spending some time with our friend, Ruth Norris, who is studying for a PhD in biblical studies at Cambridge University. In the course of the conversation, Ruth asked me if I’d be willing to help with a project Tyndale House, Cambridge were embarking on. It is a free bible software program, particularly aimed for developing countries, useful for village Christians on the one hand and even for those with theological education on the other. The goal really is Scripture Tools FOR EVERY PERSON. David Instone-Brewer, one of the scholars at Tyndale House, is the brains behind this initiative.
You may be surprised, but increasing numbers of people in the villages now access the internet (mainly Sky Sports and Facebook!) on their phone. So with the development in mobile phone technology, the time is ripe for a program like STEP which can give village Christians and pastors access to good bible resources and for free. Most people in the village we know do not have any books at all in their homes. The majority of school education is done with blackboard and chalk. So people (including village pastors) may not have books, but they are increasingly getting phones!
So even though I was initially unsure as to whether my Swahili would be up for this, it’s been a privilege to be involved in such a project that could make a real difference in the lives of rural people. Nothing can bring transformation like God through his Word!
I haven’t been doing this all myself. Another person, Anna, has done a huge amount of translation and last month I was able to sit down with Pastor Benson Nyalusi (of the Pentecostal Bible College in Mafinga where I have taught). He was able to check all the translations and get rid of all the Mzungu Swahili and ensure things were written in good Tanzanian Swahili! Thanks so much, Benson, for the invaluable five hours you spent with me!
At the moment, my work on the user interface is essentially done, although as the software developers continue their progress there may be a bit more. Our next task is to see what Swahili resources there are (commentaries, dictionaries etc.) and see if they can be included in STEP.