Picture of the day #308 “The grass withers and the flowers fade but the word of our God stands forever.” What an investment!

River of Clouds

River of Clouds

PNG offers some of the most rugged terrain in the world. Remote areas like this create challenges to get God’s word into the heart language of the people.

New sounds in the night

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28 June, 2013 – Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea – Written by Tim Lithgow with Tim Scott

In the early 1980s, Barbara Hardin and Linda Weisenburger settled on the coast a few hours’ drive north of Madang to learn the local language and translate the scriptures.   Those first years were very discouraging as the local community showed little interest in their own language.    But when Hardin and Weisenburger were seriously considering whether or not to continue, Maia language speakers from Wagedev village asked them to come and work with them.   The following decades continued to be a struggle as, apart from a few key people, there was limited interest in the program.   Logistic challenges emerged as the road to the village deteriorated to the point where it was only passable in dry season.  The helicopter became their preferred mode of travel, and they persevered in the work.


Recently, a dedication was held for the scriptures that have been translated: portions of Genesis, Ruth, Matthew, Mark, Acts, and a few epistles, in printed form and on Audibibles*.  Encouragingly, the community worked together on repairing the road into Wagadev.   But one week before the celebration a torrential downpour caused a landslide that completely cut off the road.   As only God could orchestrate, a helicopter was going to be in the area the day before the dedication, so the visitors were shuttled in.


On the dedication day, dancers escorted visitors into the village, actors presented dramas depicting the truth of God’s Word protecting from evil, and speakers reminded the community of the importance of this event – God now can speak to them in their own mother tongue: Maia!  The local Lutheran pastor, not a Maia speaker, spoke passionately, promising the people that the scripture readings in church would now be in Maia.  True to his word, at church the next morning ALL the scripture readings were in the Maia language.


As the sun set over the tropical jungle, the nightly noise of the cicadas and other tropical creatures was mixed with the sound of Maia scriptures being played on the Audibibles as groups of people listened to God’s Word in their mother tongue.

* Audibibles are pre-recorded, dedicated mp3 players with portions of heart language scriptures stored on them.

Leading the way

SIL-PNG Director - Paul Minter

SIL-PNG Director – Paul Minter

25 June, 2013 – Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea – Written by Tim Scott

“These are exciting days to be part of the Bible translation and language development task here in PNG.” – Jeff D’Jernes


Recently SIL-PNG held its biennial conference and elected new leaders to lead the organisation as it moves forward in the language development and Bible translation effort. The PNG organisation is led by a Director who oversees the day-to-day operations and reports to an Executive Committee which meets periodically to assure compliance to the goals and ends of the organisation.


Paul Minter is the newly elected Director. He is a translator and translation consultant. He and his wife, Jennie, have worked among the Iyo people of Madang Province for 17 years, seeing the Iyo NT dedicated in 2009. Since then he has served in administrative roles both in PNG and in the SIL Pacific Area. He agreed to stand for Branch Director in order to see the Branch move in new directions which would revitalize SIL-PNG recruitment and retention and effectively engage Papua New Guineans for the remaining translation task in the country. About his Multi-Language Initiative (MLI), he says, “I want the Branch to develop a method by which we as an organisation can design, implement and resource multi-language projects in PNG.”

Jeff D’Jernes was elected to chair the Executive Committee. Jeff and his wife, Sissie, first came to Papua New Guinea in 1981. Since 1987 they have been working among the Arop-Lokep people on Long Island & Crown Island of Madang Province, and Tolokiwa Island & Umboi Island of Morobe Province. The entire New Testament has now been translated into the Arop dialect of the Arop-Lokep language and a dedication ceremony is planned for June 2014. They have trained 2 literacy supervisors and 45 local teachers and launched 14 vernacular language prep schools for the children of Long Island. They have also facilitated adult literacy classes in several villages.

As PNG undergoes rapid technological and cultural changes, SIL-PNG is responding by developing fresh strategies and trying new methods for reaching the last 300 language groups needing a translation.

Both leaders expressed their appreciation to outgoing Director, Tim Lithgow and Executive Chairperson, Alan Brown for their significant accomplishments over the past four years.

Marik Language has the New Testament (August 2012)

Marik Language has the New Testament  (August 2012)

The Marik language group’s New Testament translation was dedicated in August 2012. One more language hearing God’s word in their heart language.

Spears planted in the sand

Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea – Written by Theresa Wilson & Beata Wozna with Tim Scott

New Ireland Beach, PNG

New Ireland Beach, PNG

Traditionally, outsiders arriving on the shores of the Ninigo Islands were greeted by spear-yielding Seimat people with a question: “Why have you come?” If their intent was to fight, battle commenced, but if they came for peaceful purposes, the spears were planted in the sand and a warm welcome was given.

As people arrived on the shores of Patexux Island on Tuesday 21st May 2013, the response to the question was this: Kako kau meng solian ti Jises, Kakai Haeu ti Kakai Seimat (“We bring the Good News of Jesus, God’s Word in the Seimat language”). Spears were planted in the sand and guests were welcomed from seven other countries representing all the people who had been praying for many years for this day to arrive.

Seimat people had gathered on Patexux from the eight main island communities, Lorengau on Manus Island (370km east) and other parts of the country to join in this historical event, the third New Testament translation completed in Manus Province.

At the beginning of the main Dedication programme on Wednesday the 22nd of May, a team of Seimat men carried in a traditional sailing canoe bearing Beata Wozna (Poland), Theresa Wilson (U.K.), and a box of Seimat New Testaments.

Wozna and Wilson have worked with the Seimat people since 2003 to develop mother tongue literacy in the schools and communities and to translate the New Testament with a team of men and women from the two denominations represented in the Islands, all with the support of churches in Poland, Scotland and England.


The arrival of the Seimat New Testament was celebrated with dancing, singing, drama and a huge feast including pork and seafood fresh from the Pacific. There were speeches of acknowledgment, gratitude and above all encouragement to the Seimat sailors to treasure this gift from God as the essential foundation for wise and godly living and the basic nourishment for the Christian’s daily walk.

Learning Stories that change lives

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June 18, 2013  Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea – Written by Catherine Rivard with Tim Scott

Kristina half-closed her eyes, listening intently to the words flowing from one recorder, while at the same time softly translating the story of Moses and the burning bush into Kombio onto a second recorder.  After she finished, her three other teammates shifted closer, ready to replay the Kombio recording and begin refining the translation.

Kristina and 29 other participants from seven languages were attending an Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) workshop in Wewak. Split into four modules, the OBS course is designed to teach Papua New Guineans to memorize and retell Scripture in a way that is similar to the traditional storytelling methods integral to PNG culture. In this third module, the participants focused on the stories of Moses and the Exodus, reflecting on God’s deliverance through hardship.

Hardship was not new to Kristina. Two of her three children had died at birth, and in the attempts to save them and repair her ravaged body, Kristina had undergone four agonizing surgeries. In addition, after she returned from the first workshop and began sharing Bible stories, her husband and his family became extremely unsupportive and embittered, forbidding her to share the stories publicaly or attend the second module of training. With no surviving siblings or parents and no support from the local church, Kristina was without an advocate. But, instead of becoming angry, she chose to humbly submit to her husband, praying the Lord would transform his heart so she might attend the third module. God did work, and this past April, Kristina soaked up the training, despite leaving several times for the local hospital in an attempt to diagnose reoccurring pain leftover from the failed surgeries.

Throughout it all, Kristina remained hopeful. “Listening to these stories about the Israelites has really encouraged me,” she said. “They were in difficult times, but God was bigger than that and rescued them. I know He’ll bring me through my Red Sea as well.”

Why Blog?

Over the past year, we have been releasing, on average, two news releases per week highlighting the Bible translation and language development in Papua New Guinea. These releases were distributed through email and demand for these emails has increased significantly.

Desiring to spread this good news to a wider audience we have made the move into the blog arena. Our passion to spread this “good news” can now be shared with you as you share these blogs with others.

We hope to continue sharing news from PNG in written, image and video forms several times a week. Please help us get the word out!Image