Prayer Matters!

Story by Stephanie Ernandes, Photos by Denis and Marcela Vargas

Vargus - Thursday Night Prayer Meeting.jpg

In 2003, language surveyers traveled all the way to Goodenough Island in the Solomon Sea in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG) with the goal of discovering which people groups were in need of and desiring to have the Bible in their language.  One of the people groups surveyed there were the Diodio people.  Since then the Diodio have been greatly desiring that someone would come to help them to translate the Bible into their language.

On the other side of the globe, Costa Rican Bible translators Denis and Marcela Vargas were preparing to serve overseas. Their Bible translation organization had prepared a prayer guide which included 30 different languages across the world without any Scripture. As they shared with others what they were planning to do, they gave it to people they met. Their families, churches, and individuals joined them in praying for people without Scripture, using this prayer guide.

A translation awareness workshop the Diodio people attended in 2012 made the people’s desire grow.  They asked many of the translation organizations in PNG to come help them, but no one had the personnel.  “It was very hard for them to come to the realization that there was no team, no one to support them, no one to advise them or to help them in the translation process,” said Marcela.

Denis and Marcela received notice in 2016 that there was an opportunity for them to be located with the Diodio people.  Denis remembers, “That name started going around in my mind and I said to myself, ‘I’ve heard this name before,’ but I didn’t remember where.  Later, when we were packing to go to PNG, I found a copy of this prayer guide, and I just took a look because I wanted to remember what PNG languages were included. I was surprised to see that of the 30 languages in the world that our churches had been praying for, Diodio was on the list!”

“We brought the prayer guide with us to show them as a testimony. We shared with them the story and we told them we had been praying for them for many years, along with our family, our churches in Costa Rica, and our sending church!  They were amazed and all of us were crying,” shared Marcela.

The Diodio people are very excited that the translation work has been started and they have already seen how important prayer is in the process of this work. After the recent start of the translation process, at the suggestion of the Diodio people, every Thursday evening many people in the village gather together to pray for the translation work.

While We Were Away

Story By Stephanie Ernandes, Photo by Scot Stober


As a result of a spiritual revival that came about within the Mato people group in 2011 while Bible translators Scot and Cherie Stober were in their home country for a time, the Lord stirred and began to grow a hunger within the Mato people to learn more about the Lord.

“They started to have a healing ministry.  They have healed people. It’s an incredible ministry that they have and they are getting called by different language groups around Madang to come and do healing,” shared Cherie.  “That is what we came back to after our time away. They had asked questions before, but when I started to do Trauma Healing Workshops with them two years ago, that is what opened everything up.  After that, people started asking about things like domestic violence, rape and grief to name a few.  ‘How do we deal with these things?  What do I do when someone has stolen my pig and I am angry with them?’” (Pigs are very highly valued in Papua New Guinean culture).

Because of these things Scot and Cherie were able to teach them on a deeper spiritual level and point them to translated Scriptures that dealt with these kinds of issues.  They have just finished translating the New Testament, as well as recording the audio version, and dubbing the Jesus Film into the Mato language.  The New Testament will be dedicated August of 2019.

As the Mato people rub shoulders with the Scriptures through all of these avenues that God has opened, they are just starting to grasp that there is Scripture that backs up what they do every day in their lives.  Please pray for the Mato people, for continued hunger to know and pursue God, and for a continued desire to understand the Word as they grow in Christ Jesus and walk out His calling for their lives.