Giving Life to Translation Work

Israel, Camel, Papua New Guinean, Trip, Desert
Photo By: Josh Kitchen

“A great adventure! Fantastic! Amazing! Interesting!”

These words and more were used by ten Papua New Guinean men and women involved in Bible translation to describe their recent two-week trip to Israel. As they journeyed around the country, visiting places like Jerusalem, Bethsaida, Gethsemane, Bethlehem, and Masada, they saw the Bible come to life. Suddenly climate, distances, locations and events in history were tangible and understandable, and many words that they have to translate (like cistern) finally made sense.

Krompe, a mother tongue translation consultant for the Kamano-Kafe people, remarked, “When we are in [Papua New Guinea], we preach about these places. We talk about them. But…when I went to Israel and saw all the sights, my faith was strengthened. What the Bible says—it’s true! It’s not lying! And so, this [translation] work that we do isn’t [based on] false teaching. It’s true, and it gives life!” Krompe was amazed when they walked through a tunnel built by King Hezekiah. “This was here before even Jesus’ time, and the water is still flowing!”

“This trip doesn’t just help translation, but it also helps the…faith of the congregations in our villages,” explained Krompe, who is also a pastor. “They ask many questions—places and names. And I can tell them, “Yes, it’s there. The Bible is true!””

The participants encountered many strange and wonderful things, like sandstorms, floating in the Dead Sea, and even riding a camel! But for Korry, another Kamano-Kafe translation consultant, his highlight was visiting Qumran, the home of an ancient community dedicated to making faithful copies of the Bible. “[Now] they are gone, but their deeds are still here,” he said. “They devoted themselves to God, which challenged me to devote myself to God and the work of translation.”

Korry was grateful for the chance to go on the trip. “I praise God… I learned so much spiritually, and it gave me lots of insights that help me as a consultant. I went and felt God spoke to me!”


God’s Word and Donuts

Audio Bible, Papua New Guinea, Woman, Traditional Dress
Photo by: Tim Scott

“My sister-in-law wanted to take the bus, but I said, ‘No, we have strong legs! We can walk!’ So we slung our bags onto our backs, and we hiked over those mountains.”

Lucy couldn’t stop smiling as she told about selling audio recordings of the Kamano-Kafe New Testament, worship songs, and translated Biblical videos, which were loaded onto SD cards for cell phones and Audibibles (solar-powered players).

“We went straight to the market to sell the items. Because we were new, everyone wondered who we were and what we were doing. Once they saw the materials, many of the older men and women told us, ‘It is very good that you have come and brought these things. We desperately need them. We want to hear the talk of God in our own language.’

Without friends or family in the village, neither woman had a place to stay, but God provided. “I’m very happy about this work you are doing,” a woman called out to them. “Please, come eat and sleep at my house tonight.”

As Lucy and her sister-in-law hiked from village to village, they encouraged everyone they encountered to meet them at the local market, and sold a great deal. “My husband is a translator,” explained Lucy, “and I want to help him in this work. [The translators] work hard translating the Word of God, but [they] can’t distribute it…So it’s my work to sell it as part of the Kamano-Kafe team.”

Now Lucy and her sister-in-law have many requests from villages to come sell the audio recordings. When she’s not travelling, Lucy heads to the road near her home, selling her homemade donuts next to the translated materials. “The donuts are a great way to draw in customers!” she laughed. “Before I go, I ask God to send at least one person to buy His Word…and He helps me, and I always sell a few…and so many people who can’t read or write get to hear God’s Word in their own language.”

Donut, Sugar
Photo by: Stephanie Ernandes

Bush Road

Road, Path, Bush Path, Papua New Guinea, Green

“As Christians, we walk a narrow road—like a bush path. You climb up and down mountains, you cross lots of ditches, and it’s hard work. But, on the other side…there is blessing.”

When Sakias joined the Agarabi translation team in 2003, he found this road was rather rocky and soon was ready to abandon translation to find a better job. “I was just an [unpaid] volunteer, and I had to support a wife and three young children,” he explained. “But, my wife [Ampiya] encouraged me to stay with it. And so I did, and we dedicated the Agarabi New Testament in 2011.”

A few years later, Sakias began audio recording several New Testaments. But in the middle of his second project, tragedy struck. Ampiya, his beloved wife and strong supporter, became deathly ill. Within a week, she had died.

During her illness, Sakias fasted and prayed and begged God to save his wife’s life, but still she died. Angry and defeated, Sakias turned away from God and left his recording work behind. “I just wanted to give up,” he said.

But, several months later, Sakias had a dream. “God told me, ‘You read Ecclesiastes 3.’” Reluctantly, Sakias opened his Bible, and as he read, he was struck by not only God’s control over life and death, past and future, but that God has given each person a specific work to do. “I read this chapter, and the Lord spoke to me,” Sakias said. In surrender and gratefulness, Sakias returned to the New Testament recordings.

Today, Sakias is encouraged by the many testimonies of those who listen to the recordings. “God has a purpose for my life…because plenty of men and women who can’t read can now know God through these Scripture recordings.”

“My life hasn’t been easy,” Sakias shared, “But I believe God is there with us, despite it all…He showed us the road we were supposed to walk, and now I couldn’t leave it… I am with the Lord, and I’ll die with Him.”

Bluetooth It to My Phone!

Child, Papua New Guinea, Smile, phone, Audio Bible, Bible Translation, Bible

Michael, a sixth grader, pleaded with his friend. “Please, bluetooth it to my phone! I want to watch it, too!”

Shrugging Michael off, his friend stared transfixed at the video of Jesus translated into Kamano-Kafe. “No, I can’t do that. But my cousin Lani* sells these SD cards. You go to her house and buy one of your own like I did.”

Michael craned his neck, “Please, send me just one song! Then I’ll go buy it!”

“No! Get your own!”

Early Monday morning, before school, Michael sprinted across the village to Lani’s house. Lani was sitting by the fire, cooking breakfast when he arrived, panting. “Please,” he begged, “Do you sell these SD cards?”

Lani grinned up at him and laughed, “Yes, I do.”

Michael frowned, “No, I’m not being funny—I really mean it. I want to buy one. I really need one!”

Lani nodded, “Yes, I can sell one to you. But it’s 20 kina [Papua New Guinea currency].” Before she was done speaking, Michael had bolted from her yard, back to his parents’ house to ask for the money. He returned in a rush with the kina and left clutching his precious SD card.

As Michael watched the videos about Jesus and listened to songs, all in his own language, the rest of his classmates began asking questions. Lani soon found herself selling SD cards to many schoolchildren, and was asked to sell them on the school grounds during lunch hour. “You must come!” they said. “There are lots of students from other villages, and they keep asking about these videos about Jesus in our language. They need SD cards, too!”

Later, Lani shared about the importance of the audio and visual recordings. “The young men and women need these SD cards so they can hear God’s Word and worship songs in their own language. When they see the videos about Jesus, they become interested, and they [understand because] it’s in their language.”

*name changed

Papua New Guinea, School, Students, classmates, children, study