History of the Binumarien New Testament

Story: Mitchell Michie
Photo Credit: Janeen Michie

The Binumarien people are a small language group that live in remote villages in Eastern Highlands Province. By the time Wycliffe Bible Translators missionaries, Des and Jenny Oatridge, arrived in 1958, the language group’s population had dropped from a high of 3,000 to only 111 people because of tribal fighting and disease. Des and Jenny developed a writing system for the language and taught the people to read and write. Namondi Unare, the grandson of Tuluo Sisia, Des Oatridges’ chief language consultant, says that his grandfather told him that when the Gospel of John was translated, it was like he could truly see and understand the Christian faith like a man standing on a mountaintop. As more of the New Testament was translated and read by the people, they grew in their understanding of faith in Christ.

God’s Word took a deep hold of the people after the New Testament was dedicated in 1984.  The Lord has done a great transforming work among the people through His Word. Tribal fighting among themselves and with other groups is much less common, and their population has made a dramatic recovery to over 1000 people. They have abandoned animistic beliefs in spirits and the practice of calling on their ancestors for help when they hunt, and trust Jesus Christ to meet their needs.

In the years following the New Testament dedication, Des Oatridge revised Genesis and Exodus and then translated Psalms and Proverbs. The Oatridges left Papua New Guinea in 1998.

*Reference “Hidden People: How a Remote New Guinea Culture Was Brought Back from the Brink of Extinction” by Lynette Oates

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Auto Mechanic Mentoring on Manus

Story: Karen Weaver
Photo Credit: Jerry & Sue Pfaff

Manus is an island close to the equator where people are friendly, Bible translation needs are great, roads are rugged, and fully-trained auto mechanics are hard to find. This is where Jerry and Sue Pfaff work, helping to translate God’s Word into the Nali language, and serving as encouragers and trainers for numerous other language groups as well.

When their four-wheel-drive vehicle needed repair, Jerry and Sue contacted the auto shop at their main base in the highlands. They were very grateful when Jeremy Lott, an experienced auto mechanic, agreed to fly out to spend a week with them. With Jeremy’s expertise, their vehicle was soon back on the road, ready to tackle the pot holes and muddy conditions which required the four-wheel-drive capabilities of the vehicle.

A few months later a drunk person smashed the front windshield of this same vehicle. God worked out all the details for a replacement to be flown out to the island and Jeremy again came to their rescue. Not only did he replace the shattered windshield, he also upgraded the badly sagging rear suspension, which had become weakened by the rough roads on the island.

While there, Jeremy took advantage of the opportunity to mentor a few others. A local driver of a Public Motor Vehicle was grateful when Jeremy volunteered to give his large vehicle a quick check-up. Thanks to Jeremy’s expert advice, he was able to grease some bearings which were showing signs of wear, and his vehicle will now run much longer, allowing him to continue serving others and supporting his family.

During these trips, Jeremy, a father of four sons, was happy to have several young men observing him. They came alongside him and watch closely as he adjusted and replaced essential parts of the vehicle. Maybe one day they will be the auto mechanics on the island and the Pfaffs won’t need to fly in someone from the highlands.

In 2016, Jerry and Sue helped to conduct an introductory-level Translator Training Course on Manus Island, where 42 people learned to use new skills and translation principles to produce what was, for some of them, the first-ever translated scriptures in their languages. A number of them are eager to come back this year for the second-level course so they can continue to “turn God’s talk” into multiple languages in Manus Province. Perhaps in the future there will be more Bible translators living on the island and its near outliers, and there might be a few more auto mechanics as well.

Of Sweet Things

Story & Photo Credit: Debbie McEvoy

We hit the ‘trail’ running in the village. It was wonderful to be with our Migabac friends. Our biggest goal during this stay was to read through the entire Migabac New Testament as part of the process of final edits and checks. Based on past experience, we expected 20-25 people, on average, to work with us on this read-through.

The day after we arrived and were ready to break into groups to read the New Testament, we found that between 60-70 people were present to be involved, ranging from young teens to older men and women. This group read Scripture all day long for five days!

We provided coffee, sugar, and biscuits once a day. Our supplies quickly diminished since we had over triple the amount of people we expected. With no stores around to buy more, we were concerned about how this was going to work. While trying to make a plan and desperately wanting to provide this small daily treat for our friends, God reminded us that this was a GOOD problem to have – so many people eagerly reading HIS Word day after day! We left the food in God’s hands and are thankful to say that every single day we not only had enough to share with every person, but the supplies never ran out!

Celebrating the Book of Life: Mussau-Emira NT Series

Story & Photo Credit: Karen Weaver
Part 3 of 3 in the Mussau-Emira NT series. The Mussau-Emira New Testament Dedication was held on 29 May, 2019.

The lively beating of drums signaled the start of the Mussau-Emira New Testament dedication. Excitement and expectations were high as men and women marched in formation around the soccer field. Afterwards, the Brownie family led the line of several hundred people who entered the church building.

The New Testament was dedicated to the glory of God, the honor of Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit. The minister reminded the congregation that God had men put his message in writing because he did not want people to forget what he had said. The people were encouraged to use it not only in the worship services, but also in their personal and family devotions. He declared, “It is the study of God’s Word that brings life.”

Time was given during the celebration to recognize each person who had played a part in translating the Mussau-Emira New Testament. They also thanked John and Marjo Brownie who have given nearly 25 years of their lives to this work. Afterwards the minister led the people in presenting the completed Mussau-Emira New Testament and the work it represents as a freewill offering to God.