THE EWE BIBLE LAUNCH

BACKGROUND
Agbenya La, Biblica’s contemporary Ewe Bible translation started in the year 1976. The purpose of the project was to give Ewe speakers an alternate Bible that is easy to read, easy to understand, accurate and in a language that is contemporary. The philosophy of the translation and the source
text were based on the New Living Translation, the New International Version (NIV) and the Biblia Hebraica/UBS Greek New Testament. The New Testament was launched in 1986, and the Full Bible in 2006, after thirty (30) years of hard work. However, the Full Bible had various formatting
issues and grammatical errors. Also, shortly after the publication of the 2006 Agbenya La, a new Ewe orthography came into being, and this, coupled with the formatting errors, compelled the Biblica Ghana Office to call for a revision of Agbenya La in line with the new orthography. In May
2012, the review of Agbenya La began with a team of translators, led by Rev. Samuel K. Ntumy. The whole process of translation, beginning with retranslation of the script, review of the scripts, and the external reading as well as the finalization of the script for publishing ended in December
2020. Like other projects the Agbenya La translation project was not without challenges, but glory be to God whose grace made it possible for the project to be completed and launched in Ho on the 9th of July 2021, which is reported in the ensuing paragraphs:


PLANNING

The launch was spearheaded by a fifteen-member Local Organising Committee (LOC) made up of volunteers from the heads and members of church bodies based in Ho, and two staff of Biblica. A series of visits were made by staff to meet the LOC for planning and execution of plans. Some
meetings were also held on the telephone. The committee was chaired by Apostle Richard Adanu, the Chairman of the Ghana Pentecostal & Charismatic Council (GPCC), Ho.


ATTENDANCE
The launch was well attended, and the Bible was well received. Registered participants were two hundred and seventy eight (278) but a head count was three hundred and forty-eight (348) people. This included Biblica’s Vice President for Africa (Mrs. Lydia Munene), Partnership Director for Africa (Mrs. Rose Birenge), both from Kenya, heads of major church denominations in Ho and other parts of the Volta Region, Pastors and individuals, Forum of Bible Agencies (FOBA) member organisations, partners of Biblica, a former board member of Biblica Ghana, Translators of the Ewe Bible and Biblica staff. A great number of other dignitaries also attended the launch. These included Very Rev. J. Y. Ledo, former Moderator of the E. P. Church, Ghana, and a delegation of traditional rulers led by Togbuiga Kotoku XI, Paramount Chief of the Kpenoe Traditional Area. Notable functionaries were:
• Rt. Rev. Dr. Lt. Col. (Rtd.) B.D.K. Agbeko (Moderator of the General Assembly) Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana – Chairman.
• Apostle Dr. Dela Quampah (Area Head/Regional Coordinator for the Volta & Oti Regions of the Church of Pentecost – Prayed to dedicate the Bible.
• Rev. Dr. Joseph Mawufemor Dzandu (Chairman, Ho Area Ministers Association) – Bible launcher.
• Rev. Dr. Lovelace Tetteh (Executive Member, Ho Area Ministers Association) – M.C.
• Rev. Stephen Sakyi, (General Superintendent, Assemblies of God, Ho) – Opening Prayer.
• Apostle Richard Adanu (Chairman of the Ghana Pentecostal & Charismatic Council (GPCC) –

Welcome remarks.
• Rev. Edem Y. Ofori (Parish Minister, Global Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ho – Closing prayer/
Benediction.
• Lydia Munene (Vice President, Africa) – Read the speech by Biblica.
• Rev. Dr. Ebenezer Boafo, Director of Translations for Biblica Africa – told the story of the ‘Agbenya La’ journey.
• Mr. Thomas Amoah (Biblica’s Regional Director for West Africa) – Received the Bibles for launch, presented the awards and gave the vote of thanks.

THE LAUNCH
Agbenya La was launched as planned on Friday 9th July 2021 at the Dela Cathedral of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana (EPCG) in Ho, Volta Region, in collaboration with The Christian Council of Ghana, The Ghana Pentecostal & Charismatic Council, The Ho Area Ministers Association, The International Clergy Association & All Christian Churches. It was chaired by The Rt. Rev. Dr. Lt. Col. (Rtd.) B.D.K. Agbeko (Moderator of the General Assembly, EP Church, Ghana).

One of the guests of honour holding up the Ewe Bible

To add a cultural flavour to the launch, the Bibles were presented by two children and a teenage girl who were dressed in Ghanaian traditional clothes and ushered into the auditorium with traditional drumming and dancing by the Volta Region Dance and Ensemble. The Bibles were received by Mr. Thomas Amoah (WA Regional Director). Prayer to dedicate the Bible was led by Apostle Dr. Dela Quampah with support by all clergy men/women present after which he unveiled the Bibles. Rev. Dr. Dzandu then launched it amidst cheers and shouts of joy and clapping to God’s
glory.
A portion of scripture: John 1:1-10 was read by Ms. Nyave Mawufemor from the newly launched Agbenya La to the admiration of all. This was followed by fundraising led by Rev Robert Kwao.
Total Bibles used for the launch, promotions, ministry donations, and special launch sales was one thousand (1,972) copies.

The Agbenya La Audio Bible was also launched during which 1 John Chapter 1 was played to the hearing of all and its availability for download on YouVersion also announced. Later, there was cultural drumming and dancing time during which the cultural group staged a play displaying the
Agbenya La as a tool for resolving even the most difficult and war threatening conflicts, bringing peace between the feuding parties.


EXCERPTS FROM SPEECHES
• In his remarks, the Chairman for the launch was glad to be the chairman for such an important occasion to launch the most important book in the world: “The Bible”
• In her speech, Mrs. Munene praised God for the launch of the Revised Agbenya La; a product of eight years of hard work, great sacrifice and dedication by a team of godly men and women whose objective was to produce an accurate, easy to read and understand translation in the heart language of every Ewe speaker. She said the translation was possible because individuals and families including Biblica’s CEO Mr. Geof Morin, and others gave money to support the project. She appreciated them and asked God’s blessings upon them. She called on the Church for partnership with Biblica to fulfil the mission of reaching the world with God’s word. She announced that both the text and the audio of Agbenya La were available on YouVersion and Airscape for free downloads. She concluded with a charge from Joshua 1:8 “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful”.
• Rev. Samuel K. Ntumy, the Consultant for the project who spoke on behalf of the Translation Team gave some of the differences between the old Agbenya La and the Revised Agbenya La and also mentioned that the new orthography used in the translation is accepted by the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) so, even though Agbenya La is a spiritual book, it is also accepted in academia.
• Togbuiga Kotoku XI, Paramount Chief of the Kpenoe Traditional Area, expressed joy for the opportunity to represent his fellow chiefs present and remarked that indeed the Bible is the ‘Agbenya La’ truly it is the word of life, because it addresses all issues about life. It was his hope that all present at the launch will have copies to take home and read it every day for transformation.


AWARDS TO TRANSLATORS
Biblica awarded the following team of translators with glass plaques as a token of appreciation and encouragement for their hard work towards the Agbenya La translation project:
• Rev. Samuel K. Ntumy – Consultant
• Rev. Dr. Francis Abotchie – Translator
• Mr. Mr. Joseph Avunyra – Translator
• Ms. Benedicta Esi Anibri – Translator
• Mr. Collins Worlanyo – Reviewer
• Mr. Sebastian K. Amegashie – Reviewer
• Mr. Kingsley Nettey – Manuscript Examiner (He had already been
awarded at the Akuapem launch back in November)


FINANCES
The funds for the launch were provided by Biblica. However, FOBA member organizations, functionaries/LOC members, individuals, other ministry organisations and partners donated generously to support the launch. Total funds realized from the launch to date is GH¢23,094 ($3,849). Total money spent and the details of the expenses is presented in a separate report.


VISITS, & COURTESY CALLS
There were a series of visits and courtesy calls to the heads of dominant church denominations in the Volta Region prior to the launch. The purpose was to explain the work of Biblica to them, introduce the Agbenya La to them, invite them and their church groups to the launch of Agbenya La and to sensitize them and their members to use the Agbenya La. Each of these eminent clergy men received copies of the Agbenya La with great enthusiasm and promised to be involved in its launch and use.
Rev. S.Y Kwami, Retired Pastor of the Global Evangelical Church who has been a user of Agbenya La for many years, was the first to be visited in the Volta Region with the news of the arrival of the Revised Agbenya La. Upon receiving a copy and reviewing some portions in comparison to the old version, he said: “The Agbenya La is what I use (the old version) whenever I preach. This new one is even much better. This is exciting news for the church. Thank you to Biblica” He later accepted to be “Agbenya La Ambassador’ in the Volta Region for Biblica and led the Biblica staff
team to heads of dominant churches, leaders of church groups and individual ministers to introduce Biblica and to talk to them about Biblica’s plan to launch Agbenya La in Ho. The Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the launch was thus birthed. As part of the preparations towards the launch, a courtesy call was made on the Moderator of the EPCG, Rt. Rev. Dr. Lt. Col. (Rtd) B.D. K. Agbeko and the Standing Committee of the General
Assembly during which copies of Agbenya were presented to them. The Moderator, after going through some verses from Agbenya La remarked: “This translation is so clear and easy to read.”
The Synod Clerk of the EP Church, Rev. Dr. Amey who was present at this meeting opened Agbenya La and read from Colossians 2:15 and after, said: “This is the closest to the Greek, of all the Ewe versions”.

Other visits were made to the Catholic Bishop of Ho Diocese, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Fianu and later, a courtesy call was made on the Southern Volta Regional Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Rev. Stephen Sakyi, and Apostles. Dr. Dela Quampah, Ho Area Head/Coordinator of Volta and Oti Regions and Executive Council Member of The Church of Pentecost. Apostle Dr. Quampah had this to say about Agbenya La: “The translation is the closest to the Greek so far”. On July 8, 2021, a courtesy visit was made to the Moderator of the General Assembly of the EP Church, Ghana, in the company of Mrs. Lydia Munene and Mrs. Rose Birenge. We had good fellowship with the Moderator who promised to personally sponsor copies of Agbenya La to some groups within his church.


OTHER VISITS AND PRESENTATIONS
In addition to the earlier visits to the various heads of churches, the Biblica team (West Africa and Africa) and some members of the Steering Committee including the Chairman, Aps R. K. Adanu and Rev. S. Y. Kwami, the Agbenya La Ambassador on 8th July 2021 visited the Ho Central Prison and presented copies of Agbenya La to the prison and interacted with the management of the prison. In his remark, the Deputy Director of the Prison, Mr. Martin Darku, after the presentation said: “The Prisons are the most forgotten, but we thank God that this time, we are the first to be remembered”.
The visiting group also went in the evening to participate in the worship service of the Church of Pentecost in a nearby village called Nyekonakpoe, where the VP for Africa, Mrs. Lydia Munene did the preaching. Copies of Agbenya La were presented to all who were in church that night.


CONCLUSION
We give glory to God for the success of this Bible launch; despite all the challenges His word was not hindered. Agbenya La has been well received and highly accepted by the Ewe community with pastors calling for more copies to do ministry. With its high level of acceptability more funds is needed to print about 10,000 more copies based on emerging ministry opportunities. It is our fervent prayer that God will provide more funds to meet the need, and as more people engage with the text, we also pray, that they will meet Jesus and be transformed.

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