Charles Kowak was one of the co-translators for the Nyindrou New Testament, which was dedicated on Manus Island in northern Papua New Guinea in 2002. Seeing the impact the Scriptures in the heart language have had on his own people, Kowak wants other language groups in Manus Province to have that same privilege. He is now dedicated to seeing the Scriptures translated into other languages in the area.
That’s why Kowak assisted Bill Martin and a few other SIL members in teaching computer skills to a dozen students from Manus Island in July. The students learned to use a computer program called AdaptIt to translate the Scriptures into their language, starting from a similar Manus Island language that already had some translated Scriptures. When the students arrived at the workshop at the training center in Ukarumpa, nine of them had never even turned on a computer. When they left two weeks later, all of the students were using their new netbook computers with some degree of confidence.
However, Kowak wasn’t satisfied with only 12 others from his island acquiring the new computer skills. In October, he announced on the local radio station that anyone who wanted to learn translation and computer skills could come to a workshop. The result was that 9 of the 12 people who had been to the workshop in July came for a refresher course, and at the same time began mentoring and teaching 12 others the computer skills they had recently acquired.
Ever the visionary, Kowak wanted even more people to get excited about the idea of Bible translation in their heart language. That’s why he reserved the grandstand in the Lorengau town market area for the Thursday during the workshop. There the participants read newly translated Scriptures in 12 different Manus languages from Mark 1:16-20 (the calling of the fishermen). Three of those readers were from language groups that had never before been involved in any Bible Translation project. A bystander afterward commented, “This was the first time I ever heard anything like this. When are you going to do it again in other languages?”