By Rachel Greco
Patiqu never went to school.
When Carl and Pat Whitehead met Patiqu in 1976, he knew Tok Pisin, Papua New Guinea’s trade language, but not how to read and write it. He and other people in the Menya people group wanted the Scriptures in their own language because they recognized that Tok Pisin didn’t speak clearly to them.
Patiqu’s clarity of speaking drew the Whiteheads to him. They invited him to work an hour or two with them every day so they could learn the language, hoping to translate God’s Word someday into the Menya language.
They taught him to read his own language after they developed an alphabet. Then, using the skills they’d given him, Patiqu taught himself to read Tok Pisin.
A few years later Carl decided to expand the translation team by looking for additional educated men. The Whiteheads would pay all the work-related expenses and help in other ways, but wouldn’t be paying the team a regular wage. They had been paying Patiqu for his help until then, but explained that they wouldn’t be able to in the future.
After considering the loss of pay, a few days later Patiqu came back to Carl and said, “I feel that God wants me to stay in translation.”
Other men swam in and out of the translation team, but Patiqu was always there, a steady rock through the river of life. The Whiteheads described him as, “the most consistent and steady person” in their translation team. He worked on the book of Acts and Romans by himself while the Whiteheads went on furlough, using the Tok Pisin Buk Baibel as his only aid. Once he completed a task, he was always looking for the next project, going on to produce draft translations of numerous books of the Old Testament.
Today, Patiqu, approximately 70 years old, continues to participate in the read-throughs of the New Testament. The younger members of the team, one of whom is his eldest son, recognize Patiqu as the Papa of the translation. He was there at its birth and continues working for the Lord in his autumn years. May his hard work and endurance for God be a spark in the lives of us all.