The Heidelberg Catechism In Swahili

Two Kenyan pastors, both ministering in Three Forms of Unity churches, have just completed this new translation of the Heidelberg Catechism into Swahili. Our federation of churches has 10 congregations in it, mostly from some of the poorest and most neglected tribes. They have already started work on a new translation of the Belgic Confession, after which they will carry on with the Canons of Dort.

Recently, we (Shadow Servants Ministries) completed the building of a church for 100 members in Ahero, a town in northwestern Kenya and we are building a two classroom pastoral training center in Meru. The first courses of study will be the credal and confessional documents.

The group of men with blue robes are leaders in Tanzania, who have just completed memorization of the catechism and have graduated from that class. They are Baptists, and they also teach these doctrines to the school they have built with over 200 students. The school helps to prevent the children of poorer families from being recruited into Muslim madrasas, where they would have become radicalized.

Perhaps the recovery of the Reformed Confession will happen in Africa?

Here is a recording of Heidelberg Catechism question and answer 1 in Swahili:


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  1. This is great news. Most Kenyans like myself speak at least three languages; English, Kiswahili and mother tongue which varies by tribe and location. But reading The Heidelberg Catechism in our national language will really help the internalisation of it. Looking at the location, I can tell this initiative is happening amongst my tribesmen. May God bless this work.

    • Overjoyed to see your comment brother! One of the pastors who did this translation has already completed the catechism into Luo. Our pastor friends in Kenya currently minister in churches serving the Turkana, Samburu, and Rindile people, as well as in the towns of Kisii, Ahero, and Meru. If I remember correctly, there are more than 40 tribal groups in the country, and we’d love to reach all of them eventually. Coming up in October, some of our brothers in D.R. Congo will have a conference introducing the Heidelberg Catechism to pastors in several congregations. We are thrilled to say the least. May God bless you in your calling as well.

    • Jim, I’m not going to lie – I smiled widely when I read “has already completed the catechism into Luo” – you have been here even if briefly and you know pastors here so I think you can relate when I say that understanding law and gospel is the most pressing need. The Heidelberg Catechism is in my view a most excellent starting point.
      There are numerous issues here but the advantage of beginning with the catechism is the cost factor. Economics is a huge factor in worship and when it can be simply printed out it offers a superior alternative to utlizing limited purchasing power to piece together ideas scattered across a myriad of evangelical authors. Some of whom may pass themselves off as Reformed but aren’t really. As for those who may not be literate as is the case in some areas, there has always been a history of people learning how to read and write English precisely for the purpose of reading the Bible on their own. The hunger for the word of God is there and if they bypass all the alternatives and use The Heidelberg Catechism as their compass for reading the Bible, then it will be quite a blessing.
      It has been an uphill task trying to convince many of my well meaning friends; some who happen to be American and coming from Reformed churches, that they do not need to reinvent the wheel i.e. Reformed covenant theology, law and gospel distinctives as well as the third use of the moral law. The Reformed confessions and catechisms are inclusive enough and adequate for discipleship.
      I have been to East Pokot on a mission trip which is similar to the Turkana region. I will be keeping you, your ministry and the pastors in my prayers.

    • The last time I was in Kenya, I traveled to Rumuruti, where I met with some brothers from Pokot who were eager to learn about the Reformed doctrines. One of the pastors there in Meru, travels to Pokot from time to time to minister to them. In at least one of the churches, we are teaching English, as well as reading and writing to the tribespeople. We hope to make all the Three Forms Of Unity available soon in an economical print form, so that the pastors can teach from it, and they are also eager to learn more. I think you can download the pdf through the link in the article above, but if you’d like one in Luo, let me know, I hope this is alright to do here: somebonus2 (at) gmail (dot) com.

  2. Jim,
    May I introduce myself to you. I am reformed, Australian, and until covid hit us, was travelling in East Africa for 6 months of the year, teaching justification by grace alone through faith alone to pastors and evangelists and people of a wide variety of denominations, using Swahili. The website below has Swahili teaching material which can be downloaded. Welcome to use it.
    John Rowse.

    • Great to meet you here on the Heidelblog, John! I have visited your website called Grace Clinics. I’d love to learn more. I hope that’s the correct one. I’m going to email you so we are not cluttering up Dr. Clark’s page with lots of personal communications. I’m grateful that he’s provided a link above to the Kiswahili catechism. I think we share a common philosophy of ministry, in that we are encouraging — from the shadows — those who are already reaching out to non-Christians in remote villages that have long been ignored.

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