Story by Stephanie Ernandes
Photo by: Jude Snelson and Maggie Ferris
“Read it. Read it. Read it. Read it. God will make it clear to you!” one church leader shouted out over the 500 people attending the Barok New Testament dedication. Approximately 1/5th of the Barok people, a language group of about 2400 in the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea, showed up to celebrate. A group of women celebrating through dance decorated themselves in colorful clothing, arranging brightly colored flowers in their hair and wearing the typical PNG clothing for ladies, known as meri-blouses. Singing arose to the heavens and many speeches were made.
Over and over leaders and speakers emphasized the importance of reading the Word that they would receive that day.
“This book has power to change you if you read it and live it.”
“This book is “swit moa” (very sweet). This book is a seed. Plant it and watch it grow.”
After sharing a childhood memory of his dad having saved a man from a cliff by throwing down a rope to him and pulling him to safety Ed Condra, the translation consultant working with the national translators encouraged the Barok people, “Grab the rope, a rope that will save you from falling to your death. Hold on tight. This New Testament is your rope. Hold on tight!”
A national translator from another translation program stated, “This book will set you free. Food must be eaten to benefit the body. The Bible is food for your soul.”
“After the speeches and songs finished, a traditional feast with roasted pigs and garden produce was held while people gathered in groups to open and read their Barok New Testaments for the first time – food for their bodies and indeed, food for their souls,” reminisced Maggie Ferris, one of the invited guests.
“Remember this day. September 8, 2017 is the day we received our New Testament. Remember this day.”
During the ceremonies an elderly woman thanked the translation team for making the words so sweet. It’s hard to imagine how difficult it must be to try to understand the Bible in a language that is not your own. But this old woman instantly recognized what David exclaims often in the Psalms:
How sweet are your Words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103 NKJV)