Translating the Doromu-Koki Scriptures

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Story by Karen Weaver

As a child, Joseph and other Doromu-Koki boys learned to hunt wild pigs in the bush and fish in the rivers.  Meanwhile, the village girls worked in the gardens, growing greens, yams and sweet potatoes. Even though there was a church in their area, these children and their parents still practiced traditional animistic beliefs in gardening, hunting, and getting help for illnesses. They had no Scriptures available in their language to teach them the truth and help them gain freedom from the bondage of submission to spirits.

That began to change when Joseph and some other young men met Rob Bradshaw. They agreed to go with him to the Eastern Highlands to learn translation principles and to begin translating the Bible into their language. While there, Joseph attended a Bible study and understood God’s truth for the first time in his life.

Joseph continued to grow in Christ as he worked on the New Testament translation. Its words gave him perseverance as he dealt with village problems, such as a drought and hunger. It also gave him joy and purpose as he hiked with Robert over arduous mountain trails to and from the village.

By 2015, the team had made great progress on the translation. They did village checking of a few books to ensure that they sounded clear and natural. It was encouraging for Joseph and the other translators to see that people did indeed want to be involved in the translation and to hear God’s Word in their own language!

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The people’s appreciation for God’s Word was even more evident on the glorious day in September 2018 when they were able to see, hold, and own a copy of the completed New Testament for the first time. Men, women and children danced, sang, and played traditional instruments as they ushered in visitors who had come from as far away as the United States to share in the celebration. Some of these guests had been praying specifically for these people for many years and were now able to share in the joy of answered prayer.

Joseph stood before a crowd of Doromu-Koki speakers at the dedication ceremony. Holding up a copy of the New Testament, he was overcome with emotion at the joy and wonder of having God’s book in his own language after all the years of sacrifice and perseverance.

Like his namesake in the Old Testament, Joseph has dreams of his own. His desire is to also translate the Old Testament so that future generations of Doromu-Koki people can read the story of creation, see the faith of the Patriarchs, and share the words of the Psalms as they face the struggles and joys of life.

Creativity Makes Recording Come Alive

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The Jesus Film is a two-hour dramatization of the life of Christ, with the text taken directly from the Gospel of Luke. When the script for the film is recorded in the heart language of the people, it is very powerful.

To record the Jesus Film in the Doromu-Koki language, technician Jinhwan Kim traveled by plane to the capital city, then took a truck over bumpy roads to a rural area. Finally, he and his companions concluded the journey with a three hour hike down steep narrow trails. When they arrived in Kasonomu village, they were rewarded with refreshing coconut milk and sugar cane.

Jinhwan set up his recording equipment in a village house. Although it was a hot lowlands area, he kept the windows closed to block outside noise from the recording.

More than 30 village people participated, speaking lines for the various people in the story of Jesus. Jinhwan was persistent in encouraging them to repeat the reading when necessary so the end product would have natural speech and flow smoothly. Sometimes the speaker would have to talk faster or cut out a few words to make it fit the number of seconds allocated for that scene.

However, saying the words in the specified blocks of time wasn’t enough. Jinhwan also wanted the film to show the feelings and emotion of the New Testament characters. To do this, he instituted a few creative recording techniques.

During the recording of the crowd scene before Jesus’ death, Jinhwan had the people stand outside on the ground while he stood on the balcony of the house above them, where Pilate would have been. He directed the crowds to cry out, “Crucify him!” One of the people in the crowd, Robert, testified, “It sure sounds convincing in the movie!”

When it was time to record the words of the thief on the cross, Jinhwan was not satisfied with a monotone recording. He had the actor, Nicholas, do push-ups, and then more push-ups, in an effort to make him sound like he was struggling for breath. In the end, he recorded the lines while someone sat on Nicholas’s back. It certainly had the effect of communicating that the thief was in pain as he spoke from the cross.

Jinhwan took the audio recording of the voices and dubbed it onto the video. When the people watched the movie and heard Jesus and his disciples speaking in their heart language, adults and children alike sat riveted to the screen. Now they could see and hear Jesus as if they were present with him, with no barriers of time, place, or language.



Learning New Skills

IMG_5219-6x8.jpgStory by Janeen Michie, photo by Janeen Michie

Joanne Pawih, a Sunday school teacher from Neherneh language, believes that she will be a better Sunday school teacher with her new skills in critical thinking. Now she can research the meaning of words and ask questions to understand the text. She says that before taking the Initial Skills course, “I didn’t really know the meaning of the passage myself, but when I came and took this critical thinking course it gave me more ideas and it’s really meaningful to me and it will give me a great help to help my Sunday school children.”

Thirteen men and women from Manus, Eastern Highlands, Madang, Jiwaka, and Gulf provinces came together for the five week Initial Skills course at the Training Centre in Ukarumpa. The students learned English grammar, reading comprehension, pronunciation, critical thinking, and research skills.

A student said, “I realized there is a way to get to the right conclusion. The most important thing was learning to ask questions. We usually ask one question and no more. This will help us analyze better. It’s very helpful to us to learn to read a book and think about it and answer questions about the themes and the main points. This was very helpful.” Another student, Regina Milaura says, “The critical thinking course was useful because now the [translation] team can ask each other questions about the Bible and come to a better understanding of it.”


Trouble Getting River Stones

DSC02941cropbyNewbreakchurch.jpgStory by Adam Boyd, photos Newbreak Church and Nete Talian

As we were nearing the completion of building our house in the village, we realized that we needed to build a drain field for our septic tank. A drain field is basically a long, deep trench that is filled with large stones to give the septic water overflow a place to drain. We needed to collect a large number of stones from a river for the drain field. So our friend Benjamin told me to drive the truck down the road a short ways to a stream.

IMG_20170214_161721cropbyNewbreakchurch.jpgThe river was on the land of another tribe, and as we began pulling stones out, Malo, one of the local landowners, forbid us from taking any stones. Benjamin, and those who had come to help us, argued with the landowner trying to get him to change his mind. But no matter what they said, he wouldn’t budge.

In my flesh, I began contemplating what I could say to him. I began thinking negative thoughts and as I stood there, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and reminded me, “If you love [only] those who love you, what reward do you have?” So, when it became clear that Malo wasn’t going to allow us to take any stones, I went to him and said the opposite of what I had been thinking. I told him, “You don’t want to help us, but that is okay. When I go to town, I will still stop and pick you up and take you if you want to go to town. There are no hard feelings.” I repeated myself and then shook his hand with a smile.

As we were walking back to the truck, Malo called to us, “Kuki mendalapo nyalapa,” which literally means, “Take just a few,” but in practical application means, “Go ahead and take whatever you want.” So we started filling up the truck with stones, and he even got into the river and helped us. Later Malo came by the house to see the progress, and I gave him a can of Coke, which is a sign of friendship in Enga. God is good!