It is hard to imagine that this area was once home to a Bible translation and language development centre. Almost two metres of ash fell on these grounds when two volcanoes erupted. Now, all that remains is the dark black grit.
When Tavurvur and Vulcan erupted near Rabaul, PNG in 1994, the resulting devastation was staggering. Over 80% of the buildings in Rabaul collapsed under the weight of the ash. The centre was relocated to Kokopo, where language analysis, training workshops, and translation of scripture are still in progress.
Rabaul and Kokopo are located in East New Britain, a province with many thriving churches and several denominational seminaries. Recently, a workshop was held at the Kokopo centre and more than twenty leaders of the churches and seminaries gathered to learn how they could contribute to the translation effort, in their own province and throughout PNG.
Several leaders shared how they are already making an impact. Sonoma Adventist University is offering classes in linguistics and Bible translation where future church leaders are learning how to become integrated into the task of language development and Bible translation. One church is financially supporting a Bible translation organisation.
Another church shared how they are involved in recording and distributing oral heart-language scriptures. After listening to verses played on an Audiblble in an indigenous language, the men and women in the room erupted into enthusiastic discussion of how this could impact their communities. They understood the great potential of these audio scriptures in reaching the older generation who can’t read the written translation and connecting the younger generation who appreciates the new technology.
At the conclusion of the workshop, leaders commented that they felt a new unity based on the Word which transcended their differences. One University leader exclaimed, “I am so happy for this workshop because it is bringing brothers and sisters together from many denominations in order to see the Word of God become real for our people.”
The volcano still sends out ash that reminds residents of its potential power. Likewise, enthusiasm for Bible translation is reminding churches and universities of their potential power to be part of the translation effort throughout PNG.