Warm, sultry air blankets the building but twenty-one Papua New Guineans from nine language groups inside are focused on learning about Paratext. This amazing computer program has the potential to transform their translation projects because it compares Scripture in several parallel languages and enables these translators to create an accurate and reader-friendly translation. Paratext also makes it possible to copy translated Scripture from one language into a closely related one, which greatly speeds up the Bible translation process.
Francisca, a woman from the Suau language group, helps the main translators in her village and wanted to soak up as much information about Paratext as possible to carry back to her translation team. She and the other participants were so eager to practice the skills they learned that they were in no hurry to break for meals.
In every spare moment, Davidson, a participant from the ARE language group, worked feverishly entering his Bible translation work into Paratext. His willingness to spend every evening typing up his translation, even after immersing himself in new knowledge all day, blew Jenny LeMahieu, manager of the two-week course, away.
Jenny also gave the participants half hour lessons every day on how to use the Scriptures so that the translations these participants spend years working on will squirm their way into people’s hearts and bear a harvest instead of just sitting on shelves gathering dust.
Some of the participants were already using the translated Scriptures in their villages either by telling them in a story format, as Betty and Amy were doing, acting them out, or weaving them into songs, as three different language groups routinely did. After Jenny raised the question of where you can read the Scriptures, Mathaiyas decided it was a good idea to read them at home for family devotions.
Vivian, from Ferguson Island, was so excited about the many possibilities of using the Scriptures that he couldn’t decide which form to choose during their graduation ceremony: “I’ll do a drama. Oh, but I want to do a hymn too.” He decided to do both, and his drama he illustrated that he was in the dark before he went to the Paratext course, just as his language group was in the dark without the Scripture.
Thankfully, due to programs like Paratext and lessons about how to move God’s Word from the page into people’s hearts, more and more Papua New Guineans walk into the light every day.