According to CBN News, Christians in Zambia, Africa, are celebrating the creation of Bibles written in their native tongues, the latest milestone in Bible translation. The effort is led by Wycliffe Associates, an organization that offers Bible translations in numerous languages. Over 5,000 people are currently working in Zambia to translate the Bible into 20 native languages.

In Munsa, Bishop Henry Mumba, a pastor and church planter, is assisting with church-owned translation work. He recalled hearing John 3:16 for the first time when he was 19 years old.

“My pastor was a missionary from another country,” Mumba explained to CBN News. “And he came into this town, and when they preached the Gospel to me, the first verse I remembered was John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'”

Believers in Mansa, Zambia, were said to be dancing after reading and listening to the New Testament in Aushi, their native language, for the first time.

“It’s as if God is speaking in our language,” Mumba observed.

The Bible, according to the bishop, is the first written literature in the Aushi language.

“We’ve never had anything like this before,” he explained.

In addition to Aushi, the New Testament has been translated into Nynja and Laya.

“Our country has 73 languages, but only seven were considered official, and those were the only ones that had scripture translated,” Livingston pastor Buster Paul Tembo Tembo explained.

Tembo, who directs church-owned translation work in Livingston, claims that having access to the Scriptures in their own language has a “great spiritual impact in their lives.” “When you bring it out in your own language, when you read it out in your own language, even the interpretation of it to the people, the understanding you have or bring to the people is so clear,” he says.

The term “church-owned Bible translation,” according to Simoun Ung, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates, means that the local church owns the translation process and the production of the Scriptures.

According to Ung, one major challenge is determining how to speed up the translation process without sacrificing translation quality.

“When you see the field, you see the need for scriptures. People are dying every day without coming to know the Lord, and so the urgency for us is really there,” she said.