SIL translators David and Susan Howard have been working in the Adzera language of the Markham Valley since 1999. Seeing the needs of related language groups who have no translation in progress, the Howards would like to reach out to them as well. For several years they have felt burdened to move toward a multi-language project, which would encourage representatives of numerous languages to work together in translation.
This dream took a big leap forward when SIL members in PNG met to explore a “Multi-Language Initiative.” The group felt God leading them to focus initially on two language clusters, one of which consisted of the Markham languages. David and Susan were encouraged that even more people would begin praying for this big project, which has the potential to include up to 14 related languages.
However, the Adzera team still needed God’s direction in moving forward and God’s guidance in dealing with on-going problems among the translators. Because of these needs, the members of the Adzera Language Committee met in Ukarumpa for a time of spiritual refreshment, vision building, and team building. Director Paul Minter spoke about his vision and the Multi-Language Initiative. He asked the Adzera committee, “Can we work together to see this vision become a reality?” Adzera Language Committee Chairman Mathew Abas answered on behalf of the committee with a wholehearted, “Yes!”
Even as the team strategized their next steps in translation, they enjoyed the fruit of passages that have already been drafted in their language. After verses from I John were read, quiet murmurings were heard around the room. Susan, an Adzera woman, said, “Tokples i go insait tru. I sutim bel.” —‘Our own language goes deep inside. It pierces the soul.’ Peter also echoed this sentiment saying, “Taim Tok i kamap long tokples, em i sutim bel bilong yumi.” —‘When the Word is in our own language, it pierces our souls.’ God’s Word in Adzera—Powerful. Meaningful. Sweet!
The Howards believe these events are the beginning of a new way of working in the Markham Valley, a way which will bring God’s Word even to small groups of people in the languages they understand best.