Touched by the Scriptures

Story by Janeen Michie, photos by Janeen Michie

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Six weeks before the dedication, Namondi Unare, the translation team leader, brought the first copy of the revised Binumarien New Testament Bible into the village. He said, “The people cried and rejoiced. They thought they would never get [another printing] of the Bible again in their language, but God made a road and now they have it again.”

A week before the dedication, boxes of Bibles were sent ahead. As the Scriptures arrived there was an awareness of the holiness of God’s Word coming into their village. Fasu Ikuo said, “Many people were watching as the Bibles arrived and in their hearts they were happy. With tears of joy, they cried and wailed. Why? Because they knew that this good news is the power of God to redeem them and give them life. This made their hearts very sorry and some of them cried many tears. Then the people sang and celebrated.”

Early in the morning on the day of the dedication, the Binumarien people cried and wailed as the newly printed books were carried down to the site where the dedication was to be held. Fasu said, “They cried exceedingly. Why? Because life is in the Bible and it is the power of God.”

As the day continued it started to rain and then downpour. The people sang and danced inspite of the rain. Finally the sun pierced through the clouds and the dedication could proceed as planned.  Later, as Fasu reflected on that great day of celebration, he referred to Isaiah 55:10-11: “God’s Word has come down from heaven, and will not go back to heaven without results. When rain falls upon the ground, it does not return without results. It makes the earth soft and muddy and it makes things grow. It makes crops grow, and then later it goes back again. God’s Word has come down to us from heaven and when His Word falls upon the hearts of men, it will not go back without results. It takes the life of men back with it. This is the power of God to take people back.”

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Building a Bridge to Bible Literacy

Story and photo by Karen Weaver

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In some places it may seem there are insurmountable obstacles to using mother tongue Scriptures. However, sometimes it just takes a little brainstorming on the part of the local people to discover ways to overcome these obstacles.

Mary, Weti, Samson, and Edward visited the Anjam people with the goal of helping them discover ways to use their local language New Testaments more often.  As they led the community in discussion, people called out obstacles they saw to using the Anjam Scriptures:

“In school, we only learn to read in English and Tok Pisin. We want to read the Anjam Bible in our homes, but it’s very difficult to read Anjam when we don’t learn it in school!”

“We would prefer to use Anjam Scripture in our worship services, but we often have visitors who don’t speak Anjam.”

“Many women marry into our community and don’t speak the language well. We don’t want to exclude them during church!”

As each idea was shared, it was written down on a blue card. The cards were laid together to form a symbolic river, a river which blocked the way to using the Anjam New Testament.

Next, the group brainstormed possible solutions, which were written on brown cards:

“There are already schools here. We need the teachers to start teaching Anjam as well as English!”

“During church, we can read each Scripture passage twice, once in Anjam, once in Tok Pisin. That way everyone can understand, and people who understand both get to hear it twice.”

“We should write Anjam Scripture songs and teach them to our children! We can sing them during church.”

After several hours of lively discussion they had filled in many brown cards. Together these cards easily crossed over the river of obstacles to build a bridge to Bible literacy. As a community, they had discovered viable ways to incorporate the Anjam Scriptures into their lives.

The next day, the team helped specific members of the community see how they could implement the changes that had been suggested. Weti met with the primary school teachers about teaching mother-tongue literacy in their classrooms. Edward and Samson engaged the community in a Bible study using the Anjam New Testament. Mary mingled with the women and talked with them about how they could impact their children by using the Anjam language in daily activities.

As they team left the village, they knew they had given the community some powerful tools they could use to bridge obstacles and bring the Anjam New Testament into common use in their churches and in their everyday lives.

 

One Body, Many Parts

Story by Stephanie Ernandes, Photo by Susan Frey

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“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.”

 

Child Engages with Scripture

Story by Elias, a Yamap Translator, with Janeen Michie, photo by Janeen Michie

IMG_4830_Childengageswithscripture.jpgPapua 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.”