On Thursday, November 9th, 2023, a team from the Bible Society of Kenya arrived in the Banyala community, carrying with them a treasure more precious than gold or diamonds: the Jesus Film, translated into their native language, Lunyala.
About Banyala Community
Lunyala is one of the dialects within the greater Luhya community, spoken by the Banyala of Kakamega, with a population of about 300,000; sometimes referred to as Avanyala va Ndombi. They live in Navakholo Sub-County within Kakamega County, Western Kenya.
The Banyala have not had the Bible in their language. They have been using Bibles from other dialects including Maragoli, Wanga, Luhya Central, Bukusu, Lunyole, Marama, Lusamia and Oluluyia that have their Scriptures translated. The Book of Luke was one of the first books to be translated by the Bible Society of Kenya and launched in the year 2020.
Printing the book of Luke helped a lot with making decisions regarding how Lunyala is written because this was the first time the community interacted with the Scripture in their language. This process necessitated the need to have the Jesus film recorded in the Lunyala language which stems from the Gospel of Luke.
The Jesus film in Lunyala was attended by Clergy from various Churches and members of the community who gathered to witness the event. The gathering was taken through the translation process of the book of Luke into text and then visual format, a conversation that started in 2013.
The Clergy thanked the Bible Society of Kenya for bringing the film to reality and dedicated it to God in prayer as a sign of the official launch. Pst. Modley Sifuna, the Speaker of the day (who acts as Jesus in the film) referred to Matthew 5:13, that challenges believers to be the salt of the earth. He emphasized that Christians need to remain relevant and add flavour to the places where God has placed them.
The community had an opportunity to watch the film where they witnessed the birth of Jesus, his miracles, his teachings, and his ultimate sacrifice. They watched in awe as they spoke of love, compassion, and forgiveness, values that resonated deeply with their culture.
With open hearts and eager minds, the Banyala embraced the teachings of Jesus. They found solace in his message of hope, strength in his promise of redemption, and inspiration to live a life filled with love and compassion. The Jesus Film is not merely a translated story; it brings forth the message of salvation, a bridge between their world and the divine.
The Banyala community’s embrace of the Jesus Film marked a turning point in their community as they will continue to gather to watch and discuss the film and use it for evangelism and enhance awareness of the availability of the book of Luke. The Society plans to launch the New Testament in Lunyala in 2024.