From Start to Finish: Fajak’s Story
The roots of any Bible translation program are firmly planted in God’s calling, and, we believe, also in prayer.
In 1983, it began for the Tira people of Sudan when God called a man named Fajak, and quite separately, two American students. The students signed up to pray for the Tira, a group of 40,000 Sudanese people, through Wycliffe’s Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project. Unknown to them, that same year Fajak Avajani, a Tira man, received a vision from the Lord that instructed him to read Psalm 51.
Fajak was confused. He was not a believer and God’s Word was not available in his language. He sought a member of the local clergy and asked for help. The priest read this passage to him in English, a language Fajak was familiar with:
“Have mercy on me, O God, because of Your unfailing love. Because of Your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.”
Upon hearing these words, Fajak was deeply convicted. That moment, he repented of his sins and surrendered his heart to Christ.
In 1986, three years after Fajak’s conversion, a new team of prayer intercessors committed to pray for the Tira people. It was that year—1986—that Fajak was accepted for theological studies at an Episcopal college in southern Sudan, and during that time he attended a workshop presented by two Wycliffe workers. Fajak immediately discerned God’s call upon his life: he was to see the Bible translated into the Tira language, his heart language.
Fajak asked the workshop leaders to come work with him in the Nuba Mountains where the Tira people lived, but political tensions prevented them from doing so. Discouraged, Fajak wondered why God had given him a passion for Bible translation if it wasn’t possible? He began to pray for help.
Fajak worked on his own; he translated songs and church liturgy into Tira, and eventually published a small book. It wasn’t until 1990 that Fajak once again crossed paths with Wycliffe workers. This time the encounter led to his enrollment in linguistic and translation training. In addition, funding was made available for a Tira translation project. Amazingly, it was that same year when a third prayer team—on another continent—had committed to pray for the Tira through the Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project.
In time, the Tira New Testament was drafted, checked, typeset, printed, shipped, and dedicated; all within twelve years. But right up to the last day—the Scripture celebration in 2009—there were challenges to overcome. Clearing the newly printed New Testaments from customs proved to be difficult; customs officials restarted the process three times and Fajak reported going through 21 offices to finally see it done. Fajak said, “I have found out that ending Bible translation is harder than starting it…But the Lord cleared the New Testaments in the end.”
The Tira New Testament was celebrated and dedicated. Three days later, a foundation stone was laid for a new Bible school that would raise up Tira church leaders to serve in villages throughout the Nuba Mountains. Today, the number of Tira Christians has increased from a handful to hundreds, meeting in multiple congregations.
God’s Word is in the Tira language. The Tira church will continue to grow and mature because of it. This foundation will last; ministry and discipleship will follow. Already, the Tira people are reaching out to other communities, now that they know God more fully, and realize the truth found in His Word.
Tira lives are forever changed. This is why we pray, from start to finish.
- Ask God to move mightily on behalf of the world’s remaining Bibleless peoples. Ask Him to call men and women to involvement in the ministry of Bible translation, just as He did for Fajak.
- Pray that lives will be won to Christ as God’s Word is translated for every person in the language they know best.
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