Story by Karen Weaver, Photos by Jerry Pfaff
“I’m sorry, but we cannot accept your group into our Translator’s Training Course.”
Although the response to their application was very disappointing, the reason given served as a catalyst for something greater. The director of the training course explained, “Since there are 11 of you wanting training, we think you should have your own course there on your island.” Implementing a course was easier said than done, but 18 months later, a Translator Training Course came to fruition on Manus Island.
It became clear that God had something bigger in mind than just training people from this one language group. In fact, 44 people representing 15 languages came to learn the basics of translation. Together they deciphered their own languages to analyze its structure and grammar. They learned translation principles and how to write a key term from the Bible when there is no equivalent word in the local language. They also studied Bible history and geography and learned how to use study helps in translation, including a study Bible.
Their enthusiasm for using the study helps presented a new problem. Because they were not expecting such a large group, the coordinators only brought 18 NIV study Bibles for the group to use. The attendees expressed their concern, “There are 44 of us living in villages spread all over Manus Island. We each need our own study Bibles!” Due to the quick help of a few key people, the Bibles were brought by truck from the highlands of PNG to the coast, then flown on a plane that was scheduled at just the right time to get the books there a day before these newly trained translators returned to their homes.
The course itself brought transformation in the lives of a few of the attendees. One woman was sent by her language group because of her excellent typing skills. During the course she came to understand the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection and to put her faith in him. Another person whose life was changed was a man who was a leader of a cargo cult. Over the two weeks the group saw a softening in his countenance and heard him begin to apply Scripture to his own life.
As these men and women launch into translation, pray that they would keep acquiring a fresh understanding of God’s Word and that it would continue to transform their lives and the those of the communities they are serving.