Please no rain today!

Praying – photo by Sarah Halferty

Dramas, puppets, clowns, songs, games and stories all captivated the attention of the Aiyura Valley children that attended Vacation Bible School (VBS) in mid-January. This was the first time the annual event was conducted in more than one location. With identical programs held simultaneously at two different churches, children from a wider section of the valley had the opportunity to attend. While many, many children came at least once, each location averaged about 210 participants a day.

The groups were aware of God’s help in many ways throughout the week. One example was answered prayer about the rain. “God gave us a miracle when He made the rain go away just as we were about to start,” testified VBS teacher Darlene Clark. Since the program was conducted outside on the church lawn, having dry weather was essential. Darlene recalled, “I told everyone to look up at the sky and ask Jesus to please make the rain go somewhere else. Since there was not a large enough place to meet indoors, we really desired for God to answer our prayers…and He did!”

The leaders focused on teaching the kids the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis. The daily stories about Joseph’s life also included a personal application, encouraging the children to honor God like he did. The lessons were reinforced through songs and games that related to the message. The excitement of the children was obvious as they participated in each event with enthusiasm. The last day of VBS was especially moving as many children indicated their desire to be like Joseph and give their hearts and lives to God.

This year was a milestone for the VBS program in that it was the first time the majority of the teachers were Papua New Guinean, and the first time it was held at two valley churches. Many of the Papua New Guinean teachers said they learned a lot this year and they all grew in their ability to work with groups of lively youngsters. They were thankful for the opportunity to get out into the community to teach the children.

Please no rain today
Please no rain today

Opened or closed

Open the Book!
Open the Book!

Will the Book remain opened or closed?  Many things influence the answer to the question. It’s not as simple as creating a translation.  In some areas the issue might be literacy, so helping them learn how to read is a priority. Much work is done to insure that young and old are taught how to read. In some areas it may be the significance of the Word of God, then programs like SALT and LLEAD are presented to provide insights into God’s Word that assist in Scripture application and community development. There are many other reasons and it takes wisdom, courage and perseverance for language teams to help communities and churches,  keep the Book open. Remarkably, the success rate is high but ultimately, no matter how much effort the teams make,  it is up to the individuals within the language group. Pray that Papua New Guineans  would read the Book! Praise God for the many that do!

Many or one

PNG People!
PNG People!

Perhaps you have seen this photo before but it’s a good reminder of the variety of cultures and languages here in Papua New Guinea. With over 830 languages and close to 300 of them not having any translation or language program started, its a real challenge to find creative ways to meet the need. But sometimes we need to make this challenge specific.  Instead of thinking of the many groups that need the Word, think about the fact that perhaps God is speaking to one person right now. That person might have the whole Bible, the NT,  a few books, maybe just a few scriptures or perhaps nothing at all. Whatever they have, God is speaking to individuals around the world and around PNG.  Point at one of the people in the picture and pray that the Word might become real for them.

By the way… Thank you!!! Today we exceeded the 10,000 view of these blogs. We couldn’t have done that without you!





Please send someone

Going there
Going there

SIL wanted to fulfill this request from the Dibiyaso people, living around the tributaries of the Bamu River in Western Province. However, with 100’s of languages in Papua New Guinea still needing a translation and not many new translation teams coming to the country each year, this request has been unmet for almost two decades.

In order to explore different ways of fulfilling such requests, SIL Director Paul Minter encouraged SIL personnel in PNG to consider a multi-language initiative. On 20 and 21 January, more than 170 expatriate and Papua New Guinean staff gathered to hear reports of language needs in various parts of the country, brainstorm strategies, and seek God’ direction.

The result was a unified decision to focus their next emphasis on the people groups living around the Bamu River. This proposed cluster of languages will include not only the 2,000 Dibiyaso speakers, and the similarly-sized Mubami group, but also three other language groups in the area, each of which has fewer than 300 people.  Sandra Callister, the Director for Language Programs, said, “I’m so glad that the Hoia Hoia, Foia Foia, and the Hoyahoya will be included in this cluster.

The language communities are so small, that they might well have been overlooked when it came to starting new translation programs.. But because they will be included in this cluster, they, too, will have the opportunity to receive God’s Word in their language.”

In a cluster project, related languages work together to translate passages of Scripture. They each work on the same book in their own language so they can encourage one another, share translation resources, and discuss the meanings of difficult passages as they arise.

Although SIL will make it a priority to focus people and other resources on this cluster of languages, they have not forgotten the other areas of the country still waiting for God’s Word. The Markham Valley was identified as a secondary cluster project, and others will be considered later. In addition, Minter made it clear, “Engaging with languages in clusters is not a new strategy in PNG, nor will we stop working in single language programs. But in this initiative we are exploring new approaches to the task of making the translated Scriptures available to the people of Papua New Guinea.”

Let's meet
Let’s meet

Come or go

Bringing it together
Bringing it together

Completely submersed in a village’s culture and language can be a great environment for learning a new language. But it can come at a cost. Sometimes the distractions of life inundate language learners and they spend more time with daily routines than working on the language. Bringing language speakers in from the village to a more accessible place can improve efficiency but it puts strain on the national language worker as they are away from their families and responsibilities. This new environment has distractions of its own for the villager. Which is best? Sometimes neither. Sometimes both. It demands great wisdom when planning and executing a language program. Pray for wisdom for these new starts.

Coming or going?
Coming or going?


All or some

Waiting and watching
Waiting and watching

Some language groups have limited interest in having a language development or Bible translation project in their community. When this occurs, it is usually because they have not experienced the benefits of having a translation project in their language. Sometimes they need a “taste” of how this might benefit them. So translation organizations are now providing communities with small projects that can be more easily translated into their mother tongue. Projects like songbooks, short Bible stories, public health brochures, AIDS awareness, recordings of select scripture verses and more are offered. These projects create interest and increase the community’s desire to embrace a larger program. Pray for these “taste” and “see” approaches that bring translated Scriptures to people groups that have no access.

Celebrate ten years of “Good News”

Reading the "Good News"
Reading the “Good News”

The Waima New Testament hasn’t been collecting dust since its dedication in July 2003. A community FM radio broadcast, multiple showings of the “Gospel of Luke” video, and Scripture Application and Literacy Training (SALT) courses have all encouraged the use of the Waima scriptures over the past decade. But as the tenth anniversary of the dedication approached, the translation team and village leaders decided a celebration was needed to remember the momentous occasion.

On 28 July 2013, thousands from the surrounding area gathered in the central village of Ereére. The United Church Circuit minister started the celebration with a worship service, followed by hymns and dramatic presentations. Later, various groups held competitions in scripture reading and memorization.

Taita Baeha is over 70 years old. When her turn came to compete in the scripture reading, she stood up and clearly read the passage given to her. It was a challenging chapter from 1 Corinthians, but she never stumbled or made a mistake. For her perfect performance she was given the title, “Tuabi tuabi babiéna!” –a Reading Lady!

During the scripture memorization competition, each participant was only expected to recite the portion requested by the judge. Uni, however, was very eager to share the words of God so she recited the whole passage of Matthew 7:1-29. The audience listened attentively to Uni’s energetic voice as she repeated Jesus’ promise that “the door will be opened to the one who knocks.”

After watching a video of the 2003 dedication, the head village chief declared, “Our God became a Waima man and He speaks our language to us. We should listen to what He says and obey what He told us!” The audience responded, “Yes, that’s true!”

The Waima Circuit United Church has grown steadily since receiving the Waima New Testament in 2003. They have since established their own circuit called “Pou Namona” (Good News), and decided that 19 July should be annually celebrated as “Waima Bible Day”. The Waima people have also embraced the responsibility to carry on translation of the Old Testament. It is their desire that God “continue to speak clearly” to the Waima people.

Living waters
Living waters

Pros and cons

All alone!

All alone!

Not professionals and convicts! Every time a language group is considered for a new project, extensive survey information is studied. There are pros and cons for each location.  This information is looked at carefully in order to determine if the project can be supported well because resources and personnel are limited. What are some pros? Supportive church and community, growing population, significant language usage in school and everyday life are just a few of the positive conditions that point to a thriving project. What about cons? Growing indifference towards language usage, lack of language usage in professional or trade settings, little community or church support and children not being taught the language are some of the negative conditions that would make a translation project difficult. Pray for those making decisions on projects that they would be able to get good data and make wise decisions regarding placement of valuable resources and personnel.

Young or old

I'm glad your here!
I’m glad you’re here!

Who benefits the most when a language project is initiated? The young or the old? You guessed it. Both. The old tend to not have a clear understanding of PNG’s recognised  “official languages” – English, Tok Pisin and Motu.  Many of them have not had formal training in these languages, but they know and love their heart language. It is the language of life for them. If the language of the heart is not translated, the young  lose connection with their heart language and it slowly begins to die out. Yet the new languages don’t have the deep cultural meaning for the context that they live in. So the answer is both. Languages help generations connect and preserve culture. Pray for both the young and old today.

Hearing the Word
Hearing the Word

Arise and shine


Cries of “Ese” greeted the visitors as they arrived in Numba village. Ese is the name of the language and also means both hello and goodbye.

Earlier, the activity increased dramatically as a small plane bringing visitors from around the world circled the village. Another great day had arrived for the small village of Numba in Oro Province. It was graduation day and 63 graduates of the Ese Bible Institute were making preparations along with hundreds of villagers, family members and friends.

This graduation marked the end of two years of hard work for students from all over Oro province and beyond. The coursework is led by a variety of international Bible teachers. For many of the students it was the first formal training they have had in the Bible. Classes were usually held in 2-3 week sessions with time off in between for study. This was the fifth graduating class.

Jim and Jaki Parlier, who completed the Ese (Managalasi) New Testament in 1976, started the Institute in 1995 to help church leaders understand the Bible. Jim, now 78 years old, still helps teach and was there for this ceremony. The theme of the graduation was “Arise and Shine for Your Light has Come” and Jim challenged the students to work with their churches and communities to bring the “Light” into the remote areas from which they came. The celebration ended with a large feast with plenty of food for the several hundred people in attendance.

Several graduates spoke at the graduation and challenged their peers to go back to their churches and strengthen their communities with the truths that they had learned. One graduate, an elementary teacher, shared “Teaching the Word of God at an early age is best. That’s why I came to the institute, so I can effectively teach religious education classes.” Another graduate said, “I learned that we (churches) have to work together … don’t think about our differences but focus on the needs of the ministry.”

As the graduation came to a close and the visitors and graduates left, cries of “Ese” were again heard, heralding that indeed, “the Light”, was going out to communities throughout the area.