Along the coast and on the islands of Papua New Guinea, it is not hard to find freshly cooked fish being sold at market. Since refrigeration is not available everywhere, many “fisherman” work through each night to catch fresh fish to be sold (or eaten) the following day. This is an ongoing, daily routine. So it is with many translation projects. The work is done a little bit at time, every day. Sometimes it is hard to see the progress made in any given day especially if a concept or word is hard to translate in the specific PNG language. There are days when only one or two verses are translated… just like some days only one or two fish are caught. Pray that this day would yield a great catch for the translators as well as the fisherman!
As told by Luke Aubrey – “My eyes were blind to the truths in Scripture.” A mother stood, her face shining, “but now I feel as if I am beginning to see. It’s as if cataracts have been removed from my eyes!”
Although the Borong New Testament was dedicated in 2003, Dan and Kathy, two translators, knew that the Borong speakers needed more Bible teaching in how to apply the God’s Word to their lives. So, they asked for a SALT course to be held in Ebabang, Morobe Province. SALT, or “Scripture Application and Leadership Training,” is a two-week course held throughout Papua New Guinea, teaching people how to study and apply their translated Scriptures. Over 250 people flocked to the Borong sessions, and God’s Word touched many lives.
A pastor’s wife was convicted about her use of her tongue. “Yesterday afternoon I went back to the village and didn’t even take time to go into my own house. Dropping my bag on the porch, I went door to door in my community asking forgiveness of all those whom I have wronged.”
“I had thought I had my Christian life all figured out,” shared one church leader. “But now I see that I am nothing in myself. Only by God’s grace am I anything at all. I need to completely surrender my life to Him.”
A life-long church goer, one elderly woman remembered how she first learned to read the Bible in another language, “The Bible never spoke to me,” she recalled. “I thought the Bible was just something to be read without ever understanding its meaning. In 2003, the New Testament came to us… I was excited because now the Bible was in my own language. But as I read, I still struggled to find any application. However in the last two weeks, I have begun to taste the sweetness of God’s Word. I now see how it can be directly applied to my life and realize that there is real food in there for me to daily feed upon.”
When translating Scriptures it might be tempting to just translate the words into the first word that comes to mind. That usually doesn’t work. Many translators will tell you that sometimes they can discuss the merits of a single word for hours before deciding on just the right one. In the end it’s so worth it. When the translated verses are read and the smile crosses the face of the listener, then the time spent seems well spent. Pray that as translators struggle over the right words in a Papua New Guinea translation project, they will not hurry but settle for the best.
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.