“Why do you want to translate the Bible into our language?”

The Nogais number about 75,000 and  live in the republic of Dagestan, the Karachay-Cherkess Republic and in the Stavropol territory in Russia. Their language belongs to the Turkic language family. The Nogais are Muslims.

The young Nogai girls looked at us with tense, mistrusting faces. “Why do you want to translate the Bible into our language?” They were students at Karachay University and came from villages in Dagestan where the Karanogai dialect is spoken. We were in Cherkessk in order to do field testing of some parts of the Nogai Bible translation and had given them the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel to read – the story about Zecharaiah and his wife Elizabeth, and about Mary and the birth of Jesus Christ. These girls had never read the Bible and knew nothing about Jesus and his birth. The only thing they knew was that the Bible was foreign to their religion and therefore they were suspicious. They hesitantly started to read the text, but as they read we watched their faces and saw how they changed. They became interested, forgot about the time and wanted to read more and more. “When will this book be published and where can we get hold of it?” they asked. When we left they thanked us for wanting to translate the Bible into the Nogai language.