“That’s exactly right!” The enthusiastic reaction to a verse of Scripture had once again taken Des by surprise.
New Zealander Des Oatridge and his Binumarien co-translator, Sisia, were pushing to complete Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. It was the late 1970’s and the two men had been working together for many years, “turning the talk” of the New Testament into clear Binumarien. They came to I Corinthians 14:8 and read, “If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?”
Suddenly Sisia exclaimed energetically, “That’s exactly right! In the old days, a fight leader would give a battle call and every one of his followers would immediately drop what he was doing, grab his bow and arrows, and race off with him to battle. If he didn’t give a clear call, people would say, ‘What does he want?’ and not go. But if his call was unmistakable they would go.”
He paused. Des could tell by Sissia’s expression that he had something else to add. “That’s exactly what this work we are doing is all about. The Book in another language, Kate or Pidgin, is like an unclear call to us. We just don’t understand it. But in our own language it is clear. We know exactly what it is saying to us.”
They translated several more verses and came to the words, “I’d rather speak five words with my understanding than ten thousand with an unknown tongue.” Sisia reacted as if he had received an electric shock. He began to bounce up and down on his stool. He rocked his body from side to side and threw his hands about.
Sisia almost shouted, “That’s absolutely right! Five words in your own tongue is better than words and words and words in someone else’s. Paul’s right. He’s always right!”
(Condensed from the book “Hidden People” by Lynette Oats, p. 277-278)