Seventh-day Adventist church leaders and members recently gathered to celebrate the 15th anniversary of a Bible translation feat in Moldova. On March 6, 2021, the Komrat Seventh-day Adventist Church in southern Moldova remembered the first translation of the New Testament to the Gagauz language by Adventist translator Stepan Bayraktar.
The first edition of the Gagauz “Yeni Baalanta” (“New Testament”) was published in 2006, five years after Bayraktar’s death. Bayraktar had been not only a translator but also a preacher of God’s Word in that language.
The Gagauz New Testament was published in two formats, one in Cyrillic and the other in Latin characters. It was something, Bayraktar had explained, that helped the text to be friendly not only to the older but also to younger generations, many of whom are not fluent in Cyrillic reading.
As part of the March 6 ceremony, church members participated by praying in the Gagauz language. Together with guests, they also took time to sing in that language. Leaders led a public reading of John 1:1–18 in the published translation.
Guests reviewed the history of the writing of the New Testament in Greek, and how from there, the text was translated into classical and modern languages. “The hearts of guests and members were filled with gratitude to God and all those who sacrificed to make the Word of God available to everyone in their native [Gagauz] language,” local church leaders said.
About the Gagauz People and Language
The Gagauzes are Turkic people residing mostly in southern Moldova and southwestern Ukraine. Most Gagauzes are Eastern Orthodox Christians. There are Gagauzes also living in Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and other countries. The total population of modern Gagauz is estimated at around 250,000 people. The Gagauz language belongs to a branch of the Turkic languages, which also includes the Azerbaijani, Turkish, and Turkmen languages.
The Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia is an autonomous region in southern Moldova. There are dozens of Seventh-day Adventist Church congregations in the area, with more than 900 baptized members.
Local church leaders celebrated that ethnic Gagauzes can read the New Testament in their native language and highlighted the unchanging and vital role of God’s Word.
“We continue to believe that ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness’ [2 Tim. 3:16],” they said.