Story and photo by Karen Weaver
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.