Story and photo by Stephanie Ernandes
The Somba Siawari New Testament was dedicated in 1996. About a year later Taitus Bauyan started up a school. Zion Bible School was for adults who had completed grade 8 when they were younger, but didn’t get to finish grades 9 and 10. Many people in Papua New Guinea (PNG) will stop school at grade 8 because of the expense of going to school for grades 9 and 10. Most often schools in PNG are taught in English. Zion Bible school taught in the Somba Siawari language, so this made it much easier for those attending to understand. After graduation many moved on to Seminary or University. Some students went on to be evangelists, some pastors. Some became primary or secondary teachers and nurses and doctors as well. This school was open for three years before closing due to lack of finances.
In the mean-time Mila, Taitus’s wife, along with a few other Somba Siawara translators, started work on translating the Old Testament. “The New Testament will come across more clearly when my people read the Old Testament in their mother tongue. Since the Old Testament talks about things that will happen in the New Testament, it provides understanding, a foundation for the New Testament. When they read the New Testament, it is good for them to know what the prophets talked about beforehand in the Old Testament.” Mila shared that her people believe many different things. It’s her hope that the truth of the New Testament will shine even brighter when they see that the Old Testament, written so long ago, speaks of God’s plans and all the events in the New Testament long before they happened.
Taitus began to notice one day that when people read the New Testament translated into Somba Siawari, it truly stirred their souls. “They would jump up and sing praises to the Lord and were joyful.” But it wasn’t the same when they read the Old Testament. The Old Testament was hard to understand since their only choices were English or Tok Pisin (the local trade language). That was when his heart was moved to join his wife to help finish the OT translation work.
They now have a first draft of the entire Old Testament finished, but it must go through many long checking processes before the work is ready for publishing. Taitus and Mila are currently attending a course on Old Testament back translation. Back translation is a form of checking the translation work. After translating material into a particular language, the words are then translated back into the original language to check and see its accuracy against the original material.
Taitus plans to open the school back up after the Old Testament translation is finished. Please pray over the continuation and finishing of their hard work so that the Somba Siawara can have the full Bible in their language.