Transformed by translation

New Ireland sunset
New Ireland sunset

“It began in 1998, when I had a dream.” Gillian, a Tiaang speaker from New Ireland Province, wiped tears from his eyes as he stood before 50 Sunday School teachers, gathered for the final day of a translation and training workshop on Djaul Island.

“I dreamed I got up from my house and went to the beach where the [village] elders were gathered in a meeting. When they saw me, [one man] got up and, shouted, ‘Brother! You come over here! We want to talk to you!’ When I approached, another stood and said, ‘We are going to gather money together, 300 kina total, so that we can send you to learn about God’s Word and then you can come back and teach us.’ And then I woke up.”

In 2004, a couple with SIL came as linguistic advisors to Djaul Island to assist with Bible translation for the Tiaang. The past five years, Gillian had been helping translation efforts, but now he was uncertain—was he still supposed to be involved?

“They told me [and my two fellow translators] that they’d like to send us to a translation course. When my community heard this, they gathered money [for our transport]—this money came to 300 kina!

“When I saw this, I realized that my dream had finally come to pass…Now I was certain that God wanted me to go to this school and come back and share God’s Word in my own language.”

But soon, Gillian found that the work of Bible translation would not just impact his community—it would impact him. “I found, when I was translating, the Bible translated me, showing me I needed to understand better how God wanted me to read His Word and translate it. If I just translate carelessly, and I myself haven’t been transformed, then it’s nothing, because God’s Word must change me first, and only then will I be able to translate accurately and men will be able to understand.”

Making it mine
Making it mine

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