Don’t you just hate looking for something you need but you don’t know where it is? You search high and low and become increasingly frustrated when it can’t be found. So it is for many who are searching for a real spiritual relationship with the Creator. They look in many places but become frustrated when they can’t find the way. But the Scriptures in the language learned from birth show the way. Unfortunately for many Papua New Guineans, that Scripture is in a language they either don’t know at all or in a language they only barely understand. Pray for those who are searching that God’s truth would be made real to them. Pray for those without the Scriptures in their heart language, that a project would be started for them soon.
What speaks clearly to the heart? Certainly not a foreign language. Yet many language groups in Papua New Guinea only have access to the Scriptures through a Bible that is written in a language different than the one they learned at birth. But… that can be changed! Prayer is the greatest tool that we have to change things. Pray today that more resources and workers would be found so that the Word of God would come to all language groups that are waiting for them.
“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.”
Papua New Guinea has over 830 language and more than 7 million people. Almost 300 languages of these languages in PNG are still needing a translation project started. This boy’s language group representatives met translators who were in transit to their work site. They pleaded with them to come to their language group after they finished the translation they were working on. Sadly, that commitment could not be made. They did however, give them information on how to create a team and where they could get training they would need so that they could get started. Pray that more translation teams could be formed to meet the needs of all the languages.
It can really be hard to know how big a project will be when a language group is surveyed for the first time. Language surveyors need lots of wisdom as they investigate the various nuances of a remote language group to see if they are good candidates for a Bible translation project in Papua New Guinea. These surveyors travel many kilometers (and miles!) Many of these are done on foot. They have a limited amount of time to study the prospective group’s interest and support for the project and then must decide if they will be a good candidate. Pray that they can make good decisions so that more projects can be started in 2015.
Disappointments. Life is full of them. They often come at the most inopportune times. Language development teams and Bible translators are not immune to them. But looking back at these times, it is not unusual for a team to see that what appeared to be a disappointment, actually turned out to be an unrecognised opportunity. Pray that as Bible translators in Papua New Guinea face these up and down times, that they can persevere on the course that has been laid out before them.
January is often a time for new beginnings. We sometimes make New Year resolutions that focus on things that we want to do this year that we didn’t do last year… or the budget year may have ended and a new budget year started. Perhaps new programs and projects will be initiated on this date. However, in reality, January 1 is just another day… with a day before that is now history and a day to come that brings bright hopes and prospects. In the world of language development and Bible translation, it may mean that another year of work has been completed or sadly, another year where a language group still hasn’t tasted even the smallest amount of Scripture in their heart language. Why not pray today that the year 2015 would be the year that a record number of languages in Papua New Guinea would have a project started in their language.
What will this new year bring? I predict that this new year, the year 2015, promises to bring joy and sorrow, peace and conflict, along with prosperity and poverty. I also predict that there will be new language projects initiated in Papua New Guinea and some projects will come to an end. Am I a prophet? Not at all. These things have been happening for years. Every year, new projects start and others stop. Pray that this year would be the year that several new language groups will begin the work needed to get the Word of God into their language… but don’t forget to pray for those projects that have been hard at work. Pray they would have the perseverance to continue and the resources to make it happen.