Papua New Guinea has many mountains and valleys. Mount Wilhelm, the tallest mountain stretches to almost 14,800 feet (4500+ m.) Many people live in the shadow of these tall mountains in valleys that are 5,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level. Even though it is just off the equator, these highland valleys can be quite cool at night and keeping warm is important. As the sun comes over the hills it is common to see houses “smoking” as small fires are lit inside to take the chill away. These high mountains and hard-to-reach valleys create challenges to reaching people groups that are trying to get God’s Word into their language. Pray that these obstacles would be removed so that the fire of the Scriptures would warm the hearts of all the people in PNG. May the Word of God come like the morning sun over the mountains and through the valleys reaching every nook and cranny.
In Papua New Guinea, there are many areas where rain falls freely. Two to three inches of rain, in a heavy downpour, can be a daily occurrence. The result is that the country is full of rivers and streams, and at some point, your path has to cross them. In the remote areas, the most common bridge is a fallen tree or logs tied together. It isn’t always easy to cross them but it beats going through the river. So it is with language development and Bible translation projects. Sometimes the obstacles to a good translation seem to bring the program to a halt. A halt until a bridge for the issue is found. Then the translation moves forward and progress is made. Pray that those worker in these projects would have the creativity to solve the issues of the day.
They climbed steep mountains and crossed log bridges. Some had walking sticks, others carried babies on their backs. Some celebrated by wearing a colorful feather headdress, others painted their faces and arms. All came to celebrate the arrival of God’s book in their heart language of Kandawo.
As the morning sun climbed into the sky, translators Mack and Doris Graham and their adult children joined a host of Kandawo singers and dancers descending to the field to begin the ceremony dedicating the Kandawo New Testament to the Lord. Hundreds of men, women, and children gathered in front of the grandstand and listened as God was given the praise for this completed work.
Among the crowd were several whose lives have been transformed by God’s word in their heart language. The first woman to place her faith in Christ loves hearing God speak in her language. She is tearfully thankful for her New Testament and continually encourages the Grahams during times of trial and discouragement. Another man recently told Mack, “Because of you and the SALT course, I’ve crossed over to the other side. I want to follow the Lord now.” Others carried their Kandawo Audibible in a string bag explaining, “We charge this in the sun every day and in the evening we listen to it for three hours before the battery runs out.”
Near the close of the ceremony, actors decorated in white and red mud presented a stunning drama. They depicted the New Testament coming in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, English, Chimbu and Pidgin. With each round, Satan came accusing and taunting, but two angels held him back. In the end, the Word of God came in the Kandawo language, along with the blood of Christ, and, finally, that fit the mind and heart of the Kandawo man. Satan fell to the ground and the angels put their feet on him in victory.
As the Kandawo people read the printed Scriptures and hear God’s Word spoken on their Audibibles, pray that God’s light will increasingly have the victory over darkness in their lives and flood their hearts with faith and hope.
A 1611 copy of the King James Version is scheduled to arrive in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea today. It is a gift from the state of Indiana, United States of America for the 40th anniversary celebration of Independence to be held in September. Last week, the Kandawo people celebrated the arrival of its newly published Kandawo New Testament. Scriptures written in their tokples. Both Bibles are milestones. Both Bibles are unique. Both Bibles are valuable. The Kandawo Bible speaks in a language that was learned from birth and will impact those communities for eternity. Pray that these new Scriptures will be read and applied for change lives.
For some the Scriptures are “on the other side of the fence.” Trying to understand them is difficult because the language they are written in is not the same as the language they learned from birth. It’s like looking through the fence to see what is out there. Bible translation tears down this fence and allows the Scriptures to be seen up close. Pray for the two hundred or so active projects in Papua New Guinea that are “tearing” down the fences so that more can read the Word of God in their heart language.
Papua New Guineans are talented “multilingists.” They often know two, three or even more languages. For many it is a necessity. However, as you might imagine, the one that makes the most sense, is the one they learned first. The other languages just don’t provide the insights that their heart language does. It is like a black and white picture. You sort of get the idea but when the color is added, it all comes together. Pray that some day all languages in PNG would have the Scriptures in their language so that as they read them, they can see all the “colours” provided by these beautiful words.
He pulled the man aside who had faced the verbal assault and said, “Don’t worry about them. They are on the wrong side. I used to be like them but I heard God’s word in my language and now I am on the other side.” When God’s word is heard in the language that speaks to the heart, it has changing impact. In Papua New Guinea, more and more language groups are feeling the impact of God’s word speaking in their language. Pray that more projects could be started in the almost 300 languages that still need one started.
Bible translation is a global task. So when Bob, a high school teacher from Great Britain, saw interest by his friends in having audio recordings of their already-published New Testament in the Mauwake language, Madang Province, he sent an e-mail to Finland.
Liisa, one of the original Mauwake linguistic advisors, had served among the Mauwake people for about 20 years, finally dedicating with them the translated New Testament in 1999, along with her Singaporean co-worker, Poh San. But now Liisa was retired in Finland, and Poh San was busy with translation consulting in East Asia. However, just two weeks before, the two of them had talked about the possibility of audio recordings.
The Lord opened doors for support and travel, and so in 2015, Poh San and Liisa flew back to Papua New Guinea for a reunion with their Mauwake co-workers and the exciting and intensive task of recording the New Testament! They chose to record at Ukarumpa, a linguistic centre, where the audio technicians (hailing from Papua New Guinea, Korea, and the US) would be able to assist the six Mauwake readers.
“This was the first time I was away from my family,” Maria, a Mauwake reader, shared, “and that was very hard. But I felt that this is what God wanted me to do.” One of her favourite moments was when she was able to read the story of the angel appearing to Mary in Luke 1-2. After she read, she broke into a huge smile, “I really love this story, and I love that I can read it!”
Another reader, Alfred, was struck by the power of the Word after he finished reading the last chapter to be recorded, 1 Corinthians 13. As he set down the pages, he became very quiet and then suddenly broke into a Mauwake translated song, Amazing Grace. As the others joined in, voices gathered from around the world echoed the same praises to a God who is over all the nations!
Getting to the best destinations often involves a long and difficult journey. So it can be with Bible translation. The goal for any Bible translator is a completed Bible. It is often reached in small steps – the right word, a verse, a chapter then finally a book, eventually a New Testament and then hopefully a completed Bible. Yet along the way there are many difficult steps that require great concentration and focus. Be thankful today for another completed New Testament. The Kandawo people of Papua New Guinea celebrated the New Testament in their language last week. Another milestone for that language group. Pray that the impact of this book would spread like a raging river in that province.
Why do we spend so much energy and resources on helping Papua New Guineans get the Word of God into their heart language? So that this and every other generation can know the Creator and His plan for their lives. Without the Scriptures in a language they can understand, a language they learned from birth, understanding His thoughts and ways are difficult. Pray for the children being raised in Papua New Guinea now. Pray that they would be able to read and hear the Word of God in their language before the next generation comes.