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!”