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The man who pioneered the translation of the bible to Kalenjin

The late retired Bishop Ezekiel Kiprop arap Birech was a leader with understanding, knowledge, and skills in matters of biblical literacy and translation.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s when the need to rewrite the Nandi Bible so as to meet the needs of the wider Kalenjin community, miss Mumford and Bishop (the late) Ezekiel Birech were engaged in the writing of the Kalenjin Hymn book and translation of the Kalenjin Bible in conjunction with the Wycliffe translators. The tedious work which took nine years involved such leaders as Douglas Mutai, Zablon Ruto, Erastus and Cheboi Ng’elechei from Kericho and Marakwet. The translation was done between 1954-1963 after which it was periodically reviewed and prepared until 1969 when the Kalenjin bible was officially launched. At this time he was a secretary of Rift Valley Regional Church Council, Nandi District Church Council and Member of East Africa Bible Society.

Involvement in translation work earned him a church nomination for further theological studies at Scott theological college- Machakos from 1975-1976. On completion of this course at Machakos he enrolled as a special student for the certificate of secondary Education. In 1977 he was appointed to the post of C.R.E Advisor to A.I.C Sponsored School in Nandi. In December, 1978 following the death of the pioneer church Leader the Rev. Samuel Gimnyigei he was elected the chairman of the Nandi District Church Council, the council he had served as its secretary since 1960. In February, 1979 at regional church council held at Kaptagat he was elected the chairman of the North Rift Valley Regional Church Council. One month later, in March 1979 he was elected the Assistant Bishop, A.I.C Kenya. He served the lord in the capacity until the death of Bishop Wellington Mulwa on the 11th November 1979. On the 13th March 1980, the central church council confirmed him to the post of the Bishop, AIC Kenya. He served in that post for sixteen years retiring in October 16th 1996.

During his tenure in office, Bishop Ezekiel was instrumental in the establishment of A.I.C Institution such as: Nyayo Teachers College, Missionary College Eldoret and Daystar University. In recognition for his long service and contribution to the church and society, Bishop was awarded presidential Award. The departed servant of God will always be remembered in the church and the society at large for his humility and dedication to the spiritual, the physical well being of humanity and as a man of prayer. He was laid to rest on 30th November 2000. Several primary and secondary schools have since been named after the late Bireech

To celebrate the life and work of Bishop Ezekiel, a Foundation was started in 2010 whose operations are primarily based in Nandi County but with plans to spread to the whole of Kenya. The foundation works in partnership with the local community, churches, Christian missions, donors, development partners, well wishers and other non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) to achieve its goals. Bishop Ezekiel Birech foundation’s work is divided into four broad themes namely Evangelism, Education, Health and Environment and Community Development. Its Vision is to integrate Godly values in community development interventions. The Mission of the foundation is to seek Christian values and enhance their integration in all development work. These values are Godliness, Empathy, Love for the less fortunate, Diversity and Community driven.

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