By Rachel Greco
Hundreds of language groups without Scripture in their language lay scattered throughout Papua New Guinea like clusters of stars. How does a translator know which people group to work with?
One young woman, Joy*, from a farm in Montana, read a story in 2010 about a language group in Papua New Guinea called the Nama. One of the Nama people said, “Having the Bible in English is like having a cold glass of water we can’t drink because we can’t understand it,” which splashed Joy’s heart.
While Joy attended the Pacific Orientation Course (POC) in 2011, the survey team took a trip out to the Blafe language area to see where they could begin a new translation. After POC, Joy heard about this trip and said, “I was very excited. It brought back all my memories of the Nama,” but she still planned on visiting other locations.
Joy wanted to visit the Blafe language group first, because that’s where she felt God was leading her. Before she went, she gathered some input about the ministry side from friends and compiled a list.
Joy was blown away by how God checked off everything on her list as she visited this language group. The people’s spiritual hunger was evident, as was their desire for truth and growth. Joy saw the things that would be difficult about living in this area, such as the travel, but God showed her ways around each challenge. On a more practical side, since she had grown up on a farm, the remote setting and rural life of the area thrilled her.
As Joy prayed about working among the Blafe people, the first verse in 1 Thessalonians 2 stuck out to her: “Our visit to you is not a failure.” Many of the themes in the following passage fit the needs of the area, such as new beliefs sneaking into the community and how to keep following the Truth.
God tugged Joy all the way from rural Montana to Papua New Guinea, snapping her together like a puzzle piece with the Nama people, her new family.
*The name has been changed for the anonymity of the speaker.