After a long hot day, the cool breezes of the evening feel great and the full moon is a welcomed sight. It’s time to relax. A fire crackles and the voices become more subtle, eventually a song might break out. Life in the village slows down in the evening and it is often a great time to build relationships. Relationship building is important in Papua New Guinea culture and it often involves spending time “storying” – telling each other about the things that are important to you. For some that come from other cultures, it is hard to slow down and participate but the rewards of doing so are priceless. Pray that language workers can build great relationships with their teams so that the work can go forward.
Sometimes the smallest things can delay the process of getting a translation finished. It might be as simple as washing the dishes. When life takes place in a remote Papua New Guinea village, the simple tasks just take longer. Take washing the dishes for example. After dinner, you might have to load up all the dishes, walk to the river, clean them and then bring them back to the house. What might have taken you 10 minutes somewhere else might end up being an hour-long chore. These little changes in schedule can add up and soon you just aren’t getting as much translating done as you thought you would. Pray that the translators in the remote areas would be able to accomplish the routine tasks of life a little quicker today so that they can get more translation work accomplished!
In sports, it is always important to make sure you take good shots. Shooting wildly is a quick way to end up on the bench. Why? Because as a team you only have so many opportunities and you want to make the best of them. It’s like that in the language development and Bible translation effort as well. It’s not easy to get the team together and often resources are limited so when the time comes to get the work done, everyone works hard at giving it their best shot. Pray for the teams in Papua New Guinea working hard to complete the projects that they are working on.
Every new day brings the possibility of another language group hearing a portion of Scripture in their heart language for the very first time. So what does that mean? It means that perhaps for the first time, someone is understanding what was written centuries before about our Creator.
Watch this video and see what happened to a villager who heard the Scriptures in her heart language for the first time. She had read it before many times in another language but didn’t understand it as fully as the first time she heard it in her language.
“We don’t have words for things like “lampstand” and all the different metals and clothes,” Kossac explained with a grin. “It was hard work trying to translate those concepts so our community would understand!”
Kossac, Tuas, and James, three of the Kamano-Kafe translators, were gathered together, reflecting on the challenges of translating the book of Exodus into their language.
“We had to look at a lot of pictures and do research to understand the [Jewish] customs,” he continued. “We’d been praying hard that God would give us wisdom about how to translate it all correctly. But, all the talk in the Bible about the animals and how to use them for sacrifices – that was easy to translate! It directly parallels our own culture where we prepare food for our feast celebrations!”
In addition to finishing the translation of Exodus, the team spent three intensive weeks polishing an audio-recording of the book, to be distributed on hand-held audio players throughout the villages. These Audibibles create a critical link between the traditional oral culture of the Kamano-Kafe and the written Word of God.
Tuas, who was the voice of Moses, greatly appreciated the fact that his time spent translating Exodus has helped him as a pastor. “Now, when I want to talk about Exodus, the story is in my mind! I know it so well, I can just tell about it off the top of my head.”
“The book of Exodus is a good book,” he said, “It’s similar to the story of Jesus coming to earth as our Savior. It creates a bridge, a parallel…and so it’s our goal as a team that this book will help our people understand Jesus.”
Papua New Guinea is blessed with many productive gardens that supply markets like this with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Mangoes, guavas, passionfruit, pineapples and multiple varieties of bananas can be found along side of tomatoes, lettuce broccoli, beans and carrots. It’s not just the varieties of foods that you see in places like this, you can also hear all kinds of different languages being spoken. Some of these languages still need a Scripture translation project. Pray that tokples* Scriptures will soon be as prevalently as the fruits and vegetables at market.
(*Tokples means heart language in Tok Pisin)
“I had been praying for five years that a revision of the Tok Pisin [Papua New Guinea’s trade language] Bible would happen,” James said, revealing his desire for his people to understand God’s message clearly.
“At that time, my prayer was, ‘Please, God, I don’t have lots of knowledge. I’m just a man from the village. I’m not able to do great ministry among policeman or criminals or doctors or soldiers or men who have lots of education and knowledge or those who live in towns, or even those who live in villages. I’m not able to do that. But, Lord, if I were able to help translate the Bible, well, then the Bible could go to all those corners and meet those people and fit their needs.”
James, the audio-recording headphones around his neck, leaned back in his chair as he continued his story. “So when I heard that Rich, a translation advisor, requested we come and look over the old Kamano-Kafe New Testament [to see if it needed revision or re-translation], I came to find out.” He smiled faintly in remembrance—he had never dreamed that God would answer his prayer for a clearer translation of the Scriptures through a retranslated God’s word in his own language!
For the last ten years, James worked closely with the translation team, re-translating the New Testament and finally dedicating it on Christmas Eve, 2014. But the task isn’t over yet, and now he’s determined that his people will have the Old Testament, too. In this fashion, the team has just completed recording the book of Exodus. When James’ cousin, an engineer with a big company, called him and shared with him how much this Kamano-Kafe translation has impacted his life, James’ heart was full.
“When my cousin shared with me, it confirmed in my heart that what I had prayed for so many years ago has happened. All this work hasn’t been a waste…[God’s Word] has gone out to all kinds of people and it has reached them directly and settled in their hearts. I rejoice how God has answered this prayer!”
Teamwork makes the translation process work. Papua New Guineans are working alongside translation experts from around the country and around the world. All are crucial to the process. Working together is imperative if the job of meeting the needs in PNG will ever be accomplished. Language groups who are just starting a project benefit from other Papua New Guineans who are further down the road. Experienced PNGers gain more insights by working along side trained linguists and translators who have knowledge and expertise from other parts of the world. It takes a great team to do a great translation! Pray for more great teams in PNG.
Do you know there are language groups in Papua New Guinea who are ready to start a language project? Language groups in remote areas where projects haven’t commenced often contact Bible translation organisations in PNG asking for help in getting started. Resources and training are often the roadblocks for communities. Training courses like TTC (Translation Training Course) are offered but it is not always easy for these groups to travel to the training centres. Pray that organisations that focus on translation and language development can help more of these groups. Pray that the resources needed to make this work would be forthcoming.
As told by Luke Aubrey – Dan gently set on the table his precious notes, written on tattered notebook paper and tin can wrappers bound together by tape. They contained four months of translation work so a SALT course could be held in his area of Morobe Province. SALT, or “Scripture Application and Leadership Training,” is a two-week course that is held throughout Papua New Guinea to teach people how to study and apply their translated Scriptures. Dan prayed God would use this course to bring restoration and unity to his people, as the Borong church had broken apart into many warring factions.
At first the many tensions in the church discouraged people from attending. But as word spread about the teaching, attendance grew, swelling to over 250 people by the second week! One local government official put his work on hold, choosing instead to lead a group of young men over the mountain every day to attend the sessions.
God worked mightily during the weeks. One day, two pastors from different villages got up and embraced each other. They shared, “There has been fighting between our communities for five years! We haven’t spoken to each other in that long! But we now see that we are brothers in Christ. Today God has shown us that He wants us to begin working together.”
Others agreed. “This fight has gripped us for years. Five people have died as a direct result. Just last December the government stepped in and mediated a shaky peace agreement. However we have still been keeping our distance. We believe God brought you at just the right time. This is the first time that we have been together in one place… and here we are studying the Word with those who we were fighting with! We believe God has used this course to bring healing between us.”
One woman stood, “We in the church were like dry bones. We feel God has brought you to put meat back on us and give us life through His Word.”