The Mato New Testament

Mato New Testament

Story: Janeen Michie
Photo: Susan Frey

As the Mato New Testaments arrived, the people prayed blessings on them, considering them so precious that they would not let even one box touch the ground. People sang and danced as the Bibles were carried over palm branches to the translation office where they were stored for the upcoming dedication just a few days later. The Mato people now have access to the New Testament in their own language—in print and audio formats, as well as the Jesus Film and a series of videos on the Gospel of Mark.

Oral Bible Storying (OBS)

Oral Bible Storying

Story and Photo: Carol Honsberger

During an Oral Bible Storying (OBS) workshop, opportunities were given for the men to practice their stories in front of the group, building confidence and helping them to see what parts of the story they needed to work on.

One of the Kwomtari participants wrote “OBS has strengthened my faith. It has taught me how to put a story well into my thoughts and keep it there. I have learned how to tell a story with an opening and closing. I feel OBS is teaching and enabling me to do my work as a church leader.”

54 Baptisms

Story: Janeen Michie
Photo: Nete Talian

Engan translator Nete Talian has been leading evangelistic meetings in the village of Immi. The meetings were held in Enga using the Enga Bible translation. During these meetings he showed the Enga Jesus Film, a film against tribal fighting, and a film promoting AIDS awareness. As a result, fifty-four people were baptized.

The Apostle Paul Speaks Nukna

Story and Photo: Matt Taylor

Recently some of the Nukna people were reading through the translation of Colossians with Matt Taylor, checking for accuracy and naturalness. After one particular passage, Matt noticed one of the Nukna men smiling and chuckling to himself. When Matt asked what was going on, he replied, “It’s just that for a minute there I forgot it was a translation. It’s like Paul knows the Nukna language and is speaking directly to me!”

Moments like these greatly encourage us to persevere in the task God has given us, to partner with the Nukna to translate the good news of Jesus into their heart language. It’s a long and complicated process, and there are no shortcuts to achieving a high-quality translation that speaks to the hearts of the Nukna while also remaining faithful to the original text.

Recently the books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians and 1 & 2 Timothy have been checked by a translation consultant and given final approval for publication. Our translation team has also completed several stages in the translations of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Titus and Philemon. These books are now ready to be consultant checked as well. Our hope is to publish these 10 Pauline epistles later next year, in both printed and audio formats.

Kala Gospel of Mark Dedication

Story: Mitchell & Janeen Michie
Photos: Janeen Michie

The Kala people recently dedicated the Gospel of Mark in print and audio format in the Kala Laugui dialect. Pastor Hosea encouraged the translators and talked about the value of the translation for the people. The three main churches from the area joined the celebration and prayed a blessing on the Scripture and audio recorders.

Children eagerly gathered around to watch picture Bible story videos in their language on a cell phone.

The men and women were emotional as they read and listened to the Gospel of Mark in their language. An elderly lady shared that it meant a lot to her that her people now had their first gospel.

More than a Computer Teacher

Story: Karen Weaver
Photos: Karen Weaver & Helen Sahl

After spending 15 years teaching computers at a university in Scotland, Bob was thankful to move to Papua New Guinea where he can use his experience by teaching computer skills to high schoolers. The parents of his students fly airplanes, work in the medical clinic, teach school, record Scripture, repair computers, maintain solar panels, translate the Bible into minority languages, and a host of other jobs.

Bob teaches the teenagers basic skills such as typing and creating documents in Word and Publisher, along with more advanced topics such as writing a website and computer programming.

But for Bob, living in Papua New Guinea is not only about teaching school. He also rubs shoulders with the local people by walking across the river to church on Sundays, chatting with PNG co-workers at his school, and visiting his adopted village during school breaks. Recently he was able to deliver to his village friends a box of Audibibles, which play Scripture in their local language and can be recharged in the sun.

Bob says, “It is a joy to be able to minister both to the students and to the local people here. It is such a privilege to be able to visit my adopted village and be treated as part of the clan. Through it all I hope and pray that individuals are being brought closer to Christ.”

Binumarien New Testament Recording

Story and Photo: Janeen Michie

Pastors and Bible translators from the Binumarien language group have been working hard to create a multi-voice recording of their New Testament. The organization Faith Comes by Hearing has provided funding and a trained audio technician for the task. They began recording in September 2019 and are expected to finish this month. Pray that God will use this New Testament audio drama in powerful ways among the people.

Sometimes It Is Hard

Story and Photo: Stephanie Ernandes

“It’s a remote area; you have to get on a dingy or a canoe to get to where I live. We live across the fjords. You cross one fjord, then cross another fjord and that is where I live.” Cyndi Guvama started working with the Korafe translation team when she was young, right after finishing school. She later got married, “At first my husband and I were teaching at the Christian Academic School.” She and her husband have 6 children now.

“My elder brother, who was deaf, was interested in translating. He worked with Jim Farr for 43 years at the translation work.” The Korafe New Testament was dedicated in 1984 and a revision was made and dedicated in 2006. “After the dedication of the revision my brother continued work all by himself. The other translators left. He wanted to translate the Old Testament and later asked me if I could come back again to work with him. I felt I needed to come alongside him in the work.”

“Sometimes it is very hard with the house work and all the kids. My firstborn is married. I have 3 grandchildren from her. The second boy is married and I have one grandchild from him. My third, fourth, fifth and sixth children are still in school. I need to give time to find money to pay for school fees, clothes for them, and school uniforms.”

“We are from the coastal side of Oro Province, so sometimes, from June to July-August, there will be a dry season. We face a very big drought. Sometimes we run out of food and water. During this time, we need to walk a mile’s distance to go and find water. That slows down the translation work.”

“We work twice a week Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8am to between 4 and 6pm. Sometimes we work without food, but when I make small gardens God always provides for us. I always tell the children that no matter how little we have, we have faith that we will still live. While working with the translation team I see that God helps a lot. Though we don’t have money, I tell the kids to have faith that God will always help us. I pray and ask God to help me to continue even when there are not enough materials to do the translation work. Then I continue to work at it with what I have.”

The Korafe translation team was just recently provided with a computer. “Paratext is a computer program that helps make the translation work easier. Rather than writing everything, everyday over and over, and doing the drafting with a book and pen, we can use the computer. Sometimes we run out of books.”

“I pray in my heart that God will help me to attend the Paratext Course at the training center. I need your prayers. Please also pray that God will provide the resources we need, like power – solar power to charge the laptops. Sometimes we must borrow a car battery from our friends to charge the computers. I know and hope that God will continue to provide for us to complete the Korafe Old Testament.”

A Light Passed Before Us

Story and Photos: Karen Weaver

Bennis, an audio technician, noticed the change in the speaker’s voice and pressed the “pause” button. He had been watching the lines on the computer screen as a Siarlak youth read the voice of Jesus for the recording. Looking up, Bennis saw tears in the eyes of the young man. His voice choked as he explained to the recording team, “I can’t read this Jesus part. My heart is not ready for this role. Jesus touches my life too much!”

Others in the recording felt the same way. For some of them it was the first time reading the Bible aloud in their heart language and they were moved to tears at the beauty of the words.

When the Jesus Film recording was finished and Bennis and his teammate had dubbed the voices onto the video, it was time for the Siarlak people to watch the film in their language. As the movie began and they saw men and women on the screen playing the parts from the Gospel of Luke, the crowd was filled with murmurings, asking each other, “When did these foreigners learn our language?” The recording team explained to them that it was actually some of their own people who were speaking the words.

The movie continued under the night sky as men, women, and children sat on the ground and watched the drama unfold on a large portable screen. When they saw Jesus being nailed to the cross, the whole group watching the film fell silent. Bennis, testified, “I could feel the emotion in the crowd and I knew the Holy Spirit was working.”

Afterwards, Bennis asked some of the women, “How was the movie?” They answered, “In our local language the message is so simple and we can understand the meaning much more clearly than before. It was like a light passed before us!”