Translation doesn’t only focus on the Bible, it spreads throughout the church and community in many different ways. One ways is through songs. Many language groups in Papua New Guinea love to hear the Scriptures set to their traditional music. Singing songs of praise in a language they understand brings understanding of and connection to the God who loves them. Pray for those involved in writing songs for the church that they may bring the Good News to many through their cultural singing.
I bet you have a smile on your face right now. Why? Because smiles are contagious. This smile occurred in a Papua New Guinean church where the Word of God is spoken in the language this little guy knows best, his heart language. Offer thankful praise for this language group as it worships in the language they were born into and pray that more smiles could be found as the translation effort flourishes throughout PNG.
Hands free, free hand, give a hand, hand out,hand in, hand off, hands on, hands down… so many ways to use the word hand but perhaps the phrase we need the most is helping hand. When it comes to translation, many helping hands makes the job easier. What do helping hands look like? Maybe it is the training that co-translators receive in order to become better at their work or the pilot who flies the translators to and from their villages. Perhaps it is the hands that bring food so that the translators can focus more on the translation work rather than on their gardens. Sometimes it is just the encouraging handshake that keeps them going. Can you give a helping hand today to the translation effort in Papua New Guinea – how about folding your hands in prayer and ask for God’s blessing on the work being done.
Struggling in the university, unsure of his future, Eddie decided to follow his father’s advice and take a year off from his studies. That year turned out to be a pivotal time in Eddie’s life.
As he wandered around the village wondering how to spend his time, a visitor arrived. Victor was from the Bible Translation Association of PNG and was looking for people to assist with the Mekeo Old Testament translation. Eddie agreed to help.
The Mekeo New Testament had been completed in 1999. Eddie joined a team of Mekeo people who share the common goal of completing the Old Testament translation in their language. Verse by verse, they search for the best way to convey the meaning of each passage to their people. Sometimes it takes several tries to find just the right word.
When translating scriptures about the Ark of the Covenant, Eddie used the word kofu, which means “box” in his heart language. However, this word didn’t quite communicate how special and significant the Ark of the Covenant was to the people of Israel. He knew of another word, maufa, which referred to a special box, or a treasure box. Wondering if this word might fit, Eddie asked people in his village what they thought. They all agreed this was the best way to communicate the significance and value of the Ark of the Covenant.
Eddie, too, is happy with including the word maufa. To the Israelites, the Ark of the Covenant was a precious possession because it held the stone tablets with God’s law written on them. As Eddie translates, he finds God’s book to be a rich treasure containing nuggets of wisdom and truth waiting to be discovered. One gem Eddie has found is peace. He testified, “When I am translating God’s book it gives me a deep peace that I never had before.”
With a twinkle in his eye, Eddie elaborated, “Being engaged in translation is like opening a treasure box. It’s something worth doing. You won’t get rich in this life, but you will have true treasure in heaven.”
Generally we don’t think of feet as beautiful… unless of course it is baby’s feet! However, the Scriptures say “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” – Rom 10:15 (ESV) This good news sounds even better when it is heard in the language one has learned from birth, one’s heart language. The feet that bring the translated Word to the remote areas of Papua New Guinea look more like this! Pray for these feet that they would be able to finish the important work of translating God’s words into the heart language of the people they minister to.
Sometimes it is the simple things in life that are most important. The English reader takes for granted that they have the translated Word of God. In fact they have hundreds of choices. So the idea of finding a Bible that speaks easily to one’s heart seems to be a simple thing. But in Papua New Guinea, where there are over 830 languages, less than quarter of them have a New Testament. There is a need to begin a language project in almost 300 languages. Pray that the untranslated heart languages in PNG would see a project started soon and that the resources needed to make this happen would be provided.
It may be time for you to spread your wings! There are opportunities all over the world to participate either directly or indirectly in the Bible translation and language development effort. If you are skilled in languages and linguistics, there is no better place to fulfill that calling. If you have the desire to see all people having access to the Scriptures in their heart language but don’t have these skills, there are many ways to serve with the skills that you do have. Managers, teachers, nurses, mechanics, IT specialists and more are all needed in Papua New Guinea right now. Why not pray about these needs… who knows, maybe it’s time to spread your wings and fly to PNG!
Rainy season is arriving in Papua New Guinea. From November to April the day often starts with bright sunshine and slowly the clouds build up until the heavy rains start in the afternoon. It then usually lasts well into the night. When people leave Papua New Guinea, they often lament about missing the sound of hard rain on the tin roofs at night. While the rain is much needed for gardens, it can also make travel difficult and treacherous. Closed airstrips and landslips (or slides) can actually prevent access to remote villages and projects. Praise good for His provision of rain for food and ask for His protection for the many who travel in order to make it possible for others to read God’s word in their heart language.
At the sound of the bell, the 50 Tiaang and Tigak speakers silently gathered together under the haus win (open air shelter), clutching leaves, flowers, and stones. It was the second day of a Sunday School teacher training and translation workshop in New Ireland Province. Throughout the course, the teachers were studying everything from translation principles to lesson-planning to age-appropriate games to putting on puppet shows and drama. Today, as part of the session on personal spiritual growth, everyone had been handed a stone, the verse from Ezekiel 36:26, and been sent them away for quiet, individual conversations with God.
As the students returned, one of the leaders stood. “Would anyone like to share?” she invited the group. No one spoke. Then, Margareth, an elderly Tigak woman with a frangipani blossom tucked into her gray hair, stood up and began to weep, recounting her encounter with God. The silence broken, one after another, they rose to their feet in tears, confessing sin, recommitting their lives, and bearing witness to the love of Christ.
Throughout the next two weeks, Margareth worked tirelessly to translate the stories of Genesis into a format for children—complete with games, word activities, and questions. In the beginning, she found the task very difficult, as there are no examples of Bible translation in her particular dialect. But as she learned the skills of translation, and read the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, and Abraham in her own language, she was struck by their power.
“When I translated [the Bible] into my language, it changed me,” she said, tears filling her eyes. “In my life—my thinking, my behaviour, my way of talking—none of it followed the will and pleasure of God. Now I say thank you to God for bringing me to this workshop. He has caused His words to come into my language, and now I understand what God wants me to do in my life!”
There are days when it just feels good to stay inside and keep to ourselves, but this shouldn’t be a lifestyle! What can you do today that impacts the lives and hearts of other people? How about praying for Bible translators in Papua New Guinea? There are almost 300 languages that need a language program started. So what? Scriptures in the heart language of the people, the language they learned at birth, makes a difference.
Watch this video that highlights the transformation of lives that came in contact with the Scriptures: Ese: A transformed community