Story By Stephanie Ernandes
Photos supplied by Steven Ttopoqogo
“Bible Translator Ernie Richert came to our village with his family and met my grandfather in 1957.” Steven was told that, “My grandfather was a great hunter, he was the son of a chief. He and his family didn’t live in the village, they lived in what we call a house-pig, a place where they took care of all the pigs. The leaders of the village said, ‘Get that hunter to help that white man.’ And that is how my grandfather got involved in the work of Bible Translation.”
Steven’s father joined the team in 1965. Steven himself decided to join YWAM and planned to go to Bangladesh. “Honestly I didn’t want to do Bible Translation, I wanted to do something like evangelism when I grew up. I was raising my support to do this.” In the village, however, we had a prayer meeting every Saturday morning to pray for someone to help Steven’s Dad to translate the Old Testament into their language. “My Dad didn’t go to English school. He just learned his English around the translation table.”
Steven’s Dad’s desire to begin translating the Old Testament came from people’s response to the New Testament. Many times the books of the prophets are referred to and quoted in the New Testament. As people read the New Testament they started to ask, ‘Where are these books?’ and began to say ‘We want to see these books, this book is not complete!’”
In 1996, they had been praying for almost a year. “In November of that year, right at the end of one of the prayer meetings a young man read a scripture, Isaiah 6:8: And the Lord said, ‘Whom shall I send?’ Then Isaiah said, ‘Lord, here I am! Send me.’ He read that scripture and shared, ‘We’ve been praying for a year, and it seems that no one is responding. I feel that God is asking this group, that someone in this group will respond like Isaiah responded.’ And I (Steven) was closing my eyes, but I felt like God was saying, ‘Steve, will you respond as Isaiah responded?’ and I said, ‘Lord, here I am, send me.’”
For 15 years, Steven was in the village serving in the church and helping his Dad with translation work. In 2006 he got involved with training to help other Papua New Guineans to learn the work of translation. In 2009 Steven joined a Bible translation organization located in the Eastern Highlands area of Papua New Guinea. He moved his family there and began work managing the organizations mission’s center. Since 2010 he has become a regional director in the same organization overseeing 12 different language projects in the Morobe region.
Steven’s Dad continues work on the Guhu Samane Old Testament. It is 98% drafted. Seven books are consultant checked and printed, and 16 books are consultant checked. Steven oversees the continued work.
What a legacy they leave because of three generations of men who said in their hearts, “Lord, here I am, send me.”