A Sweet Celebration of Reading

Story: Karen Weaver
Photo Credit: Nete Talian & Martha Boyd

As the excitement grows about progress on the Enga New Testament, the local churches are taking the initiative to hold literacy classes to teach people to read in their own language. In this way the people are prepared to read the Scripture portions as each book is translated into Enga.

Volunteer literacy teachers from the church write letters and words on the chalkboard, and murmurings can be heard around the room as people bravely repeat the sound for each syllable and form them into words. Slowly the words are mastered and put together to make sentences. Smiles light their faces as they become fluent enough to read short stories and then longer passages from the Bible.

During a recent graduation ceremony, more than 40 individuals, representing three churches, gathered to celebrate the completion of the literacy course. Many of the graduates were middle-aged or older and had not had the opportunity to learn to read when they were children. Being able to articulate the words on the printed page for the first time in their lives was certainly a reason for celebration!

Translator Adam Boyd stood before the group and read aloud Psalm 119:103, which in Enga reads, “The sweetness that happens when I read your word surpasses the sweetness that happens when I taste honey.” Next, each graduate came forward to taste a spoonful of honey. They smiled at the delicious taste, and rejoiced to know God’s Word is even sweeter than this!

As they left the ceremony, each graduate held a brand new copy of the Gospel of Matthew printed in the Enga language. With no mother tongue libraries and very limited access to Enga books, this Gospel will be a treasure to each of them and a means for all of the graduates to continue improving their reading skills.

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Songs from God’s Book

Story: Karen Weaver
Photo Credit: Dan Bauman

“Traditionally we sang war songs, but when God’s Word came it freed us,” one Wampar singer said, explaining the liberty they have in Christ to create worship music.

Another person elaborated, “When we were introduced to God’s Word, we felt like God came inside our lives and now we feel more close to him.” Thus they are happy to have a means of expressing their gratitude to the Lord.

The Wampar people have always sung melodies as they worked in their gardens. The words for these traditional songs of their ancestors came from stones, trees, and dreams. But now the words they sing when they go to the garden come from God’s book, the Bible. As they till the ground and harvest crops they are using traditional tunes with new words of worship and praise to the Lord.

Producing music in their language has been a process. First, they studied the Scriptures in their language. Next, they wrote the words to the tunes they knew and practiced singing them. Finally, they recorded the songs when a team of three audio specialists visited seven villages in the Wampar language area. Soon they will be able to download the recorded music onto their phones and other devices so they can listen to it whenever they want.

singingIn the past, the fight songs were used to fuel their anger. The songs they now sing using Scripture have a very different effect. They explained, “Now when we have a singsing, it makes us happy and makes us feel like God is with us.”