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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