Story by Stephanie Ernandes, Photo by Susan Frey
“In my technical world it is hard to see the connection between what I am doing here at CTS (Communication and Technical Services) and the actual processes of Bible translation and it’s even harder to convince the supporters back home,” said Marius Taciuc, a missionary from Romania. “I was always looking for a way of showing this connection.”
Marius met Bible translators Jim and Joan Farr some time ago. He had helped them with their computers and had given them technical advice from time to time. When he heard that Jim and Joan would be celebrating the completion of the Baruga New Testament, Marius was excited about the possibility of going with them to the village to celebrate. “When I heard that they were having this Bible dedication I wanted to go there to assist them.”
The day of the dedication the Baruga people had put together a drama to perform. This drama confused Marius. The actors pretended as though they were searching for the Word of God. They had placed markers on the stage that represented different villages they were traveling to in search of God’s Word. At some point they reached a village where they found a Bible laying on the ground along a river. They picked the Bible up. It was an English Bible and they tried to read what was on the cover. Joking around they said to one another that the letters BIBLE must stand for “Belief Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” They decided that some white missionary must have left it there because he was scared of them and had run away. Leaving the Bible there on the side of the river they left.
Marius later asked what it meant. He was told that many, many years ago when missionaries first came to these people, they came with their English Bibles. “The people looked at the English Bible, they tried to understand it, but for many years it was just a book of instructions and nothing more,” said Marius. It had no impact on their hearts.
One man at the dedication expressed to Marius that it took him a long time to understand what Jim and Joan were bringing to his village. However, he realized, over time, that they were bringing the true gospel, a gospel he later on came to understand as the true Word of God spoken to him in his own language.
“Through this experience I was very encouraged in my work, in what I do daily. That was the blast of energy I needed to carry on. It was also a big encouragement for the people back home. I managed to make some videos and write some letters to send back home, and hundreds of people had the opportunity to see them. It wasn’t only me moved by this experience but the people back home as well.”
Story by Elias, a Yamap Translator, with Janeen Michie, photo by Janeen Michie
Papua New Guinea has many languages and people groups. Numerous language groups are difficult to access because the land is covered in mountains, forests, rivers, and swamps. Some villages are so remote that villagers can only travel by foot and it may be a few days walk.
Yabumluk is a Yamap village on a high mountain ridge. The people there use their own language most of the time, but since they’ve never had the Scriptures available in Yamap, they hold their church services in Tok Pisin. On a recent Sunday they used the Yamap Scripture booklet that we had produced for them to use in their services. A young boy, about 6 years old, was there. He had not been listening to the service, which was being held in Tok Pisin, but when the Scripture portion was read in Yamap, he focused and listened carefully. After the service, he kept talking about that Scripture portion. The adults who heard him were very surprised that a young boy like that could preach the gospel.
Elias, who was in Yabumluk that Sunday, said, “This touched my heart.”