The Saamaka (Saramaccan) language is evidence of how the movement of people shaped this ethnic group. In the early 1600s, both Dutch and English colonists established plantations along the northern coast of South America, in present-day Suriname. Many relied on slave labor, mainly Africans from West and Central Africa. During this time, most of the overseers and slave masters were Portuguese.
Some Africans escaped their captors in groups of various sizes and hid in the rainforest. As communities made of multiple ethnicities formed in isolation from others, several new ethnic groups with new languages developed, including the Saamaka. Saamaka words can be traced back to Dutch, English, Portuguese and several African languages.
Today, the number of Saamaka Christ-followers in Suriname and neighboring French Guiana is small but growing. They have the New Testament in their own language. Ministry agencies from different countries are partnering with local churches in Suriname to translate the Old Testament, develop oral stories based on these Scriptures and record audio versions. The stories and teachings will help the Saamaka more effectively deal with the widespread fear of evil spirits. The Saamaka church will also be greatly strengthened in seeing a fuller picture of who God is and what His plans are.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11): Mighty God, give wisdom to the translation team so that more Scriptures might go forth among the Saamaka to accomplish Your purposes. Let the stories nourish the souls of the Saamaka people. Drive out the fear in their hearts and let them see Your power and love.
Ask God how else to pray.
Listen to an audio version of Exodus 14 and picture more of the Saamaka finding freedom in Christ.