Story by Stephanie Ernandes, Photos by Jenny LeMahieu
The Goroka Show is the largest cultural festival in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Around 100 people groups gather to display their traditional dress, music and dancing for all to see. This event is unique in its brilliant displays of the roots of a culture unmatchable in diversity. It draws many from both inside and outside of PNG.
Two Bible translation organizations joined forces this year and set up a display table/booth at the Goroka show to share and make known the many resources available to Papua New Guineans to access the Scriptures in their own languages. With over 800 languages spoken in PNG and a population of over eight million people, any of which may show up at the festival, this was a prime opportunity to share the Good News!
They brought printed New Testaments (NT) and audio Bibles in five nearby/local languages. They put out coloring pages with Matthew 19:14 written on them in over 50 different languages along with colored pencils so kids could color them. There were printouts on how to get involved with Bible translation as well as Gospel tracts in the local trade language.
The effort made was well received. At least 25 people were able to download free New Testaments in their language onto their phones!
“It was fun to see people’s faces light up when they recognized their language on the coloring page with the Matthew Scripture. Even high school boys were so excited they laughed when they read in their own language!” shared one of the group.
One young man from the Dano language group shared about finding a Dano New Testament in a local bookstore, but it was too expensive for him to buy. The group had one available at a much lower cost. He quickly got out his money and bought one. He’d been wanting one for quite some time.
An older man they spoke with was discouraged that the children in his village were not using their language, Kamano Kafe, very much anymore. Julie Mare, one of those helping with the booth, was able to share some ideas about how to encourage the youth to use their language again. In response the man purchased a New Testament and an Audio recording to help teach his grandchildren their language. His joy was evident! Julie reminded him that he is imparting life into the next generation and they won’t easily forget what he is doing for them as they grow up.
What a beautiful thing to be able to spread the Word and make a difference, one life at a time!
Story by Helen Talo with Susan FreyPhoto by Susan Frey
I was 15 years old when my father first met that crazy white man and his wife. It was a formative age, when I was really beginning to differentiate bad from good.
My father would meet the white couple, Robbie and Debbie Petterson, in one of the vacant rooms at the hospital. He would come home with stories that they had written in our own language, Mouwase. The stories were fun and easy for me to understand. Sometimes I would read them out loud and my family would laugh and enjoy hearing them.
They were translating the Word of God into our dialect, and it was lovely to hear. Whenever dad finished translating a portion from the book of Luke, he would read it to us. Our people still don’t understand the story of Jesus, because it is written in a foreign language. I thank our Father in heaven that He brought these two crazy white people to translate the Gospel message from Luke into our dialect. When I read it, it is easy to understand, and I really feel that Jesus speaks my language too.
Story by Adam Boyd, photo by Newbreak Church
Since Engan people are largely an oral culture, the translation team is creating audio recordings of each book of the New Testament as they are completed. Those audio records are then distributed in two main ways.
The first way is on solar-powered MP3 players. These audio players allow people to listen to God’s Word in Enga for hours at a time, and when the battery dies, they simply place the player in the sun to charge. We’ve heard stories of people saying, “When we read the Bible in Tok Pisin, we never read a whole chapter at a time. But we can listen to an entire book of the Enga Bible in one sitting without getting tired!”
Once people start listening to the Bible, there is a tendency for those with basic literacy skills to want to read along with a printed copy as they listen to the recording. In the process of doing so they teach themselves how to read their own language. As a result, we are also releasing audio recordings of the Enga Bible as an Android phone app that highlights the text sentence-by-sentence as the audio recording plays.
Even among people who live with no electricity or running water, Android phones are starting to become more and more common. And while an Engan may be reluctant to read a printed copy of the Bible in Enga, they will quite readily sit down and try to read along with the Android phone app. The other benefit of the Android phone app is that the distribution is completely free for anyone who has an Android phone. Technology is truly revolutionizing the way Engan people access God’s Word!