Welcoming the Word

Celebrate with your Aja brothers and sisters as they welcome your gift of the New Testament!

It’s a common practice for Christians in Benin: church on Sunday morning, voodoo temple on Sunday evening.

For many of the 1.2 million Aja speakers living in the West African nations of Benin and neighboring Togo, the ancient religion of voodoo is woven into the fabric of everyday life.

When you’re sick, you seek healing from the local shaman.

When you need good luck, you sacrifice an animal at your local temple.

When you lose a loved one, you house their spirit in a carved charm or sacred object.

Voodoo has its roots in West Africa and, specifically, Benin. Today, roughly sixty percent of Aja people still follow voodoo and similar ancestral worship religions. But even the thirty percent of Aja people who claim Christ often mix the truth of the gospel with voodoo traditions.


The strong tides of culture can easily cause us to drift from the truths of Scripture. But imagine how difficult it would be to remain secure in God’s Word when you don’t have it in your own language!

Until today, that was the case for the Aja people.

For generations, Aja pastors preached from Bibles in French or other local languages like Ewe or Fon. More often than not, Aja Christians—and even the pastors themselves—could not completely grasp the meaning of Scripture.

This lack of God’s Word didn’t just affect the Aja church. Without Scripture in the language they spoke with their families, Aja Christians struggled to connect their faith to their everyday lives. Many clung to the old practices of voodoo—caught between something familiar, and a message of hope they could not fully understand. Your Aja brothers and sisters in Christ knew that God’s Word was the only force powerful enough to open eyes to the spiritual bondage of voodoo—and to open hearts to the life-changing light of the gospel.

And that’s exactly what you provided when you gave them the first New Testament in Aja!

“God spoke to us in Fon! God spoke to us in Ewe! God spoke to us in French! Today, God speaks to us in Aja!”

Against a backdrop of blue tents, a choir of Aja women sing a new song, written just for this celebration.

First, they list the languages they once relied on to hear God’s voice. Then, they shout the joyous truth: today, God will finally speak to them in their own language!

Their voices fill the afternoon air, drawing curious onlookers from the town of Azovè. What they find is a full-blown Bible celebration—full of dancing, singing, and joyful anticipation as hundreds of Aja people wait to hold God’s Word in their hands for the first time!

“It’s a great delight for the whole Aja people living everywhere, because it is the day the Lord has chosen so that we know his words in the Aja language!” says Pastor Eugene, who pastors a local Aja church.

Like the other pastors in attendance, he felt the lack of Scripture in a unique way. “Preaching was very difficult because we did not have the Aja Bible,” he says.

Today, that will all change.

The crowd quiets. Three pastors pull away a traditionally patterned cloth, revealing the Aja New Testaments. They pray over the books, thanking God for the gift of his Word and asking him to bless the Aja people through this Scripture.

Then, the ceremony is over, and the crowd rushes to receive the New Testaments.

Volunteers can barely pass out books fast enough—people push closer, reaching out their hands. Once they have the New Testament, they step aside, opening the book and staring at the pages with expressions of joy and wonder. In the background, the band plays triumphantly.

Kondo is one of the Aja speakers who received your gift of God’s Word.

He first became a Christian 52 years ago. For half a century, he has waited and prayed for Scripture in Aja that he could share with his four children and six grandchildren.

Today, he traveled 72 kilometers on motorbike from his home in Togo to receive the New Testament.

And now, he holds it in his hands—finally!

“I’m very happy because they started translating the New Testament about 20 years ago,” he says. “And today, we have that New Testament!”

Kondo is eager to go home and read Scripture to his grandchildren, who will grow up with God’s Word thanks to you. And, like other Aja believers, he’s already looking forward to tomorrow—the first Sunday the Aja church will worship with God’s Word in the language of their hearts.

“I’m very happy,” Kondo says. “Tomorrow, I will read my New Testament in church!”

Thanks to you, churches full of Aja believers can hear, read, and share the Word of God in their heart language!

Already, the Aja Christians who worshipped while holding their precious New Testaments and heard the first sermons preached directly from Aja Scripture are looking for ways to share God’s Word with their friends, family, and neighbors.

“Now, since we have the New Testament, we will see the spread of the Word of God go further,” says Pastor Eugene.

Through literacy programs and radio broadcasts, Aja churches hope to reach even more people in Benin and Togo with the hope of Jesus Christ. And, thanks to the Scripture you placed in their hands, Aja Christians can fully understand the life-changing and culture-transforming message of the gospel.

Now, as they hide the truths of the New Testament in their hearts, they also look forward to the day when they—like you—will be able to experience the complete Word of God!

“I’m very happy, and I thank you so much for what you have done for us!” says Jerome, who looks forward to using the New Testament in literacy programs. “Now I ask that you continue to help us so we can finish the Old Testament and publish the whole Bible!”

Read more stories of lives changed by God’s Word in Record magazine!

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