“Ni nem yokotup pil, nem lupmer niker ninak nim yaenaren ne itanak erep erep yaya.”
Two decades ago, these words had never been heard in the Amam language. Today, however, they are part of the Amam scriptures, found in Mark 1:11b. These words, as well as other tok ples (heart language) scriptures and songs were shared at the anniversary celebration of the Papua New Guinea Bible Translation Association (BTA).
With glad hearts, BTA members and their friends gathered to celebrate what God has done through BTA since its inception in 1974. The evening included singing with guitars and drums, a dance presented by young ladies dressed in the national colors of PNG, and prayers for those serving in Bible translation.
Steven Ttopoqogo, a language program coordinator, shared some history about the many years that the organization has been training and equipping Papua New Guineans to translate God’s book. In most cases, the translators are working to “turn God’s talk” into their own mother tongue. In a few instances they are translating for languages which are not their own.
A highlight of the evening was hearing testimonies about completed New Testaments and the impact they are having on communities in Papua New Guinea. The most recent New Testament completed by BTA was the Ogea. One person who had attended the dedication, Janell Masters, remembered the enthusiasm of the Ogea pastors, “They shared from their hearts when they talked about having God’s word. Their joy was genuine.”
The BTA anniversary celebration also included a short video about Cassowary Road United Church, a PNG church in the port town of Lae which is committed to supporting the task of Bible translation through their finances, prayers, and through sending out their own members to translate scripture. After one sermon about the Day of Pentecost, four of their members committed to returning to their home areas to translate God’s book for their own language groups.
As Dave Barton stated at the close of the evening, “It’s a winning combination: Papua New Guineans translating God’s book into the languages of Papua New Guinea.”