First fruit

Reading his language
Reading his language – photo by Sarah Halferty

“The Sokarek Dedication is the first fruit of the NITI cluster project here in New Ireland!” exclaimed James, the translator for the dialect. It was a gorgeous day as many people from the Sokarek language of New Ireland gathered on a cliff overlooking the bright blue ocean to celebrate this New Testament dedication. Among the guests were members of several area churches, who joined in the celebration with much joy and singing.

The New Ireland Translation Institute (NITI) trains mother tongue translators with the help of experienced translation consultants like Ed Condra. It is part of a cluster project which includes 12 different languages and dialects that was started in 2005. The translators from these languages meet twice a year for 4-6 weeks at a time to compare notes, receive instruction in translation principles, and encourage one another in the task.

After completing the New Testament in the Patpatar language in 1997, Ed didn’t know if neighboring dialects like the Sokarek would ever have a translation of their own. But with the experience gained through nine years of looking over the Patpatar New Testament verse by verse, James, the mother tongue co-translator, was able to apply his skills in linguistics and complete the Sokarek translation.

The translation didn’t come without a price. “It took a lot of hard work and there were many hardships that stood in the way of my finishing the task, but with God’s help I have so much joy that it’s now completed,” exclaimed James with a smile.

One of the men who joined the celebration was Pastor David, who had been praying with his congregation to receive this Bible for a long time. He was overjoyed as he declared, “I have seen God work in the lives of men. I am eager to watch how my congregation will react now that they can see God for themselves through the reading of the Bible in their own language.” As people sat in the shade of the mango trees examining their own copies of God’s word for the first time, Pastor David said with satisfaction, “We can only truly find God through our own language.”

Celebrating the Word in Sokarek
Celebrating the Word in Sokarek – photo by Sarah Halferty




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