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The Nenets of Russia

Finding an apartment on the Arctic Circle can be difficult! Just ask Kelvin and Roslyn Nicolle, who hope to soon move with their two small children and live among the Nenets people of northern Siberia. The Nicolles will be working with the Nenets to translate the New Testament into their language.

A group of 35,000, the Nenets have built their lifestyle around the harsh climate, where temperatures reach as low as -60 degrees Fahrenheit and there are 260 days of snow per year. The Nenets are mostly nomadic. Reindeer are their main source of food, clothing, shelter and wealth.

Though the Nenets have had contact with Russian culture, they maintain a strong culture of their own. Most have attended school and can read in Russian, but they use their own language with their families.

The Nenets are traditionally shamanists. In the 17th century, Russian Orthodox missionaries converted many of the Nenets, but it is unknown now many believers exist today. There are no evangelical churches. Without the Bible as a guide, Christianity has not grown significantly, and Christian teachings have been mixed with pagan beliefs.

Today the gospel of Luke has been translated by the Institute for Bible Translation (IBT) and is currently awaiting publication. However, the people involved in this project are unable to take on more responsibility. The Nicolles will serve as exegetical checkers and hope to find local Nenets speakers to do the translation of the rest of the New Testament.

Roslyn wrote, “We feel like there are a number of logs floating in the river ready to make a barge. Our job is to somehow tie all these logs together before they float too far downstream. Of course it is the Holy Spirit who will be the rope, but we feel we are to be facilitators of the barge-forming process.”

Please pray that the Nicolles will find housing and that God will provide a team of co-workers, especially mother-tongue translators. We trust that many of the Nenets will come to know the Lord through the power of God’s Word in their own language.

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