Jimmy’s Story

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(photo: Jimmy and his daughter)

by Rachel Greco

Jimmy’s father and brother had served on Jim and Joan’s translation team for years, but Jimmy never wanted anything to do with God. Then, the unthinkable happened.

A hunting spear that Jimmy stored in the rafters jiggled loose and fell, piercing the skull of his eight-year-old daughter. She was his firstborn, and he was worried. She did not die, but neither did the injury heal. Instead she developed a high fever, and Jimmy knew he had to do something. He asked the local church leader, Johnstead (who is also a leader of the translation team), to pray for her.

Jimmy said, “I’ll do anything for my daughter, anything at all!”

Jimmy was able to get the money together for the expensive two-day trip to the nearest hospital, where he and his daughter stayed for over two months. The girl’s wound slowly healed, but she was also diagnosed with tuberculosis and malaria.

One day a local woman came to the hospital to pray for the sick children. She said to them, “I am sure that at least seven of you will be released from the hospital tomorrow.” And sure enough, not seven, but eleven children were released—and Jimmy’s daughter was one of them.

Jimmy’s rebellion against God had shattered. Jimmy’s first Sunday back spent at church and requested to meet with the Bible translation team to thank them for their prayers. One team member after another shared their thoughts and Baruga scripture with Jimmy. Several of them spoke with shaking voices, obviously deeply moved to see the change in Jimmy. Jimmy himself looked close to tears several times.

One person said, “We church leaders saw your bad behavior for nine years, but we didn’t talk to you about it. We took all our heaviness to God. And here you are.” God has the longing and power to bring people to Him—even through the means of pain and sorrow.

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Every Tribe, Language, People and Nation

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Story and photographs by Stephanie Ernandes

I received an email a couple of months ago asking me if I would photograph and video an upcoming partial Bible dedication for the Odoodee people group in Western Province, Papua New Guinea. I am a support worker here in Papua New Guinea. I live here to provide support for the work of Bible Translation throughout this country. One of the ways I do this is by writing. This was my first opportunity to offer my services of photography and videography. Very excited, I accepted.

As the time for the dedication grew closer and this being the first time I’d done anything like this, I grew more and more intimidated by the task before me. What had I gotten myself into? It was an incredible opportunity, but could I pull it off? Then I remembered that Papa God loves to work through His people! It’s through our weaknesses that He is shown strong. I prayed. A lot. Then jumped. God carried me through the rest.

When I stepped off the little ten-seater plane with translator Darrell Hays and the other attendees into this tiny village it was like stepping into a live National Geographic magazine. We were greeted by women elaborately decorated with paint, beads, and striking feathers, their grass skirts gracefully swishing in the wind as they surrounded the plane singing and dancing. Men equally as decorated in war paint danced with bows and spears, some beating drums – a deep base beat resonated. The movement of colors and sound, the smells and the heat overwhelmed my senses. I stood stunned, shakily trying to point the videorecorder and camera in every direction at once.

In the midst all of the chaotic beauty surrounding me, the most amazing part – the part I will never forget – was the moment during the dedication when I heard, out of the mouth of a Papua New Guinean man speaking over a loud speaker, the verse from Revelations 5:9 describing representatives from every tribe, language, people and nation standing before the Lord in worship. I have heard that verse many times and imagined and rejoiced at the thought. I have even shared that passage as I stood in front of churches describing the importance of Bible Translation. But to hear it out of the mouth of a Papua New Guinean man from a small tribe in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, it came alive. As I watched and listened, that prophesy was coming to fruition before my very eyes.

Much like a translator discovers the first time he or she steps into a village planning to spend the next years of their life translating the Bible into a language needing one, I experienced that God shows up. He works in and through us in spectacular ways. What I witnessed was just that, God accomplishing His purposes through us, his weak but fervent children, trying our best to follow Him.

“I have spoken and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed and I will do it.” Isa 46:11b (ESV)

Commitment and Creativity

Story and photos by Stephanie Ernandes

(Jose at work)

“Due to Kerttu’s cancer treatments we are no longer able to be in Papua New Guinea full time… We need to be based in Finland for her ongoing treatments,” shared Darrell Hays, Kerttu’s husband. “Since our future is so uncertain, we have no idea when we will ever be able to complete the entire New Testament.”

Knowing this delima, the Odoodee people made an important decision. Darrell explained, “The Odoodee people decided that it was a great idea if all of the Scriptures that have been consultant checked (75% of the New Testament) would be printed into one volume.  That way they can use them rather than wait for some uncertain time in the future when the entire translation of the New Testament is finished.”

As the Odoodee people prepared to celebrate the much-anticipated arrival of this portion of God’s Word, Darrell sent all the books that had been consultant checked to be printed in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea where the cost of printing would be most economical.

“When we turned in the ‘copy ready’ (typeset) materials to the Printshop, we found that they had a major problem,” explained Andy Grosh, a fellow translator who was helping to facilitate the process. The only viable option for printing these books was to use the Risograph. However, it had a worn-out drum that needed to be replaced before they could print anything.  “The Printshop had ordered a new drum from Australia, but when it arrived,” Andy shared, “we found out that although the model numbers were the same, the models from the Southern Hemisphere required different parts from those which were sold in the Northern Hemisphere, and our unit had been sourced in the Northern Hemisphere many years ago.”

Jose Bena, an office machine technician, thought heavily on this.  He strongly desired that the Odoodee people receive their partial New Testament in time for their celebration.  One night as he contemplated what to do he came up with an idea. He would try to create one drum out of both the worn-out drum and the replacement drum by taking them apart and combining parts from each.

Andy expressed his joy in God’s provision, “Jose created a functional drum that would work in our Risograph… It was truly God’s gift to us so that His Words could be printed and distributed in the Odoodee language.”

As they thanked God for his Book at the dedication, they also were thankful for Jose, whose perseverance, creativity, and commitment to the task was a crucial step in making the celebration possible.

Powerful Perseverance

Story by: Rachel Greco

How far would you go to translate the Bible into your language?

Philip, Leo, and Joe set off on a journey one Thursday to reach the nearest town and airstrip so they could arrive at Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea. Due to heavy rains, it took them six and a half days to cross the mountains guarding the way to their destination. These men traversed through mud—sometimes as deep as their knees—up and down the mountains. Some rivers had flooded so much that the men had to sit and wait for hours to cross them, then carried on through pouring rain.

Sometimes the trio crafted rafts out of hunks of wood to get their bags across the swollen rivers. There were no vehicles where they had hoped to catch a truck, so they simply trekked on through the day and night. At one point in the middle of the night they were so tired that they stopped and fell asleep for a few short intervals. Despite all of these travails, the men pressed on in order to complete translating a few more portions of the New Testament into their heart language of Lote.

This trio was made of truly extraordinary men. Leo, the chief Bible translator for the group, had been translating the New Testament for over fifteen years and had become skilled at expressing God’s Word in a meaningful way to his people. He could also write songs and sing them, led youth, and the choir. Philip, an elderly man with impaired feet, felt passionate about God’s Word coming across clearly and sounding sweet and genuine to his Lote ears.

Finally, after many hardships, the trio reached their goal. And not long after, because of their perseverance, these men were able to see the fruit of their sore feet and anxious waiting when the Lote New Testaments were unveiled and received joyfully by the Lote people.(Leo reading the Lote New Testament)

 

 

 

The War on Sorcery

Story by Rachel Greco

Sorcery chokes numerous parts of Papua New Guinea, negatively effecting many people. The Kamano-Kafe Bible translation team has recently written and filmed a sorcery movie with the encouragement of a local member of parliament to help fight this evil.

Kossack, a member of the Kamano-Kafe team, wrote the sorcery movie script based on the death of his mother-in-law’s, Afuri’s, husband in a surprise village attack over sorcery accusations. When he was running away from his attackers, he was shot in the back with an arrow. He fell over a ditch, protecting his young son under his dying body.

In the aftermath of the raid, when Afuri returned to her village looking for her family, she found her son alive, hiding in the ditch under her husband’s body. The movie shows their suffering through flash-back scenes told by her grown son. He tells the story, including the sorcerer’s trickery, to his sons, challenging them to stop the group of young men who are stirring up another village fight over new sorcery accusations following another villager’s death.

“We are in a war to save lives,” Rich Mattocks, the Kamano team’s language advisor, said. “As we made multiple trips to filming locations, we drove past a newly burned-down house where the occupant had been accused of doing sorcery. He was murdered less than two weeks before we started filming in May.”

After the Kamano team watched both the Kamano-Kafe and the Tok Pisin draft version of the movie, they asked older villagers to see the film. One of the older men could not stop talking about how good it was and that it was going to, “pull the pants down on the men doing this sorcery practice.” The cultural translation of this word picture is that the video is going to expose and shame these men, thus stopping them from what they are doing.

The team also showed the draft version to fourteen people from six different languages around Papua New Guinea. Most of them were in tears and said their people will understand it. They wanted their own copies…to start showing it NOW!

As Rich said, “Sorcery is an epidemic. We have seen film have a large impact on education for the AIDS epidemic, and hope that God will bless this film to have a large impact on sorcery.”

 

UPDATE:

The film has been released in the Kamano-Kafe language and has already contributed to the saving of one life.  It is in the process of being translated into Tok Pisin to be released soon.  An English translation is being considered.

 

Smiles and Scripture

By Rachel Greco

During the last week of August and beginning of September, Beth Fuller and some other language workers traveled to Wewak to promote Scripture. The Christian book store there let the women borrow its microphone, speakers, and mixer to blast out recordings to let people know about translated scriptures in their languages.

“We were absolutely amazed at how many different people we could help get copies of God’s Word in their language. We were all so tired were standing with balls of sweat rolling down our backs. But then we would get a smile from someone – priceless,” Beth Fuller said.

They saw it over and over—at first a person wore a straight face as they waited to hear a recording of the Scriptures in their language, then the smile started as the recording played. And finally the smile culminated in an explosion of joy.

Several people even asked Beth and the others to play the recording of their language on the loud speaker so everyone could hear.

It wasn’t all smiles and excitement, though; there were people to whom they had to say, “Sorry. Nothing has been translated in your language yet.” Some who heard this smiled politely and left. Others asked strongly, “When are you coming to our language?” The language workers could only ask them to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send someone to help them.

One man came to Beth and asked her to see if there was a translation in his language. They looked up his province, and she read the list of languages that had translated material, but his language wasn’t among them. He smiled, said thanks, and left. He came back to Beth in about half an hour.

He said, “I brought this old woman to come hear her language. You told me that Yil language was on your list, and I know she speaks Yil, so I brought her to you.”

Please join us in praying that all the people in Papua New Guinea will experience the joy and soul-shattering smile of hearing God’s Word in their language.

Karo’s Three Stories

By Stephanie Ernandes

“When I was young not everyone got to go to school.  Out of my family I was chosen to go.  My other sisters stayed home.  I completed school through grade five, so I learned how to read well,” shared Karo from the Gadsup people group in the Highland Region of Papua New Guinea.  Karo shared three stories as she sat talking around the fire one cold morning.  She had one main message she emphasized through all three.

“One of my sisters, she didn’t go to school, but she was very hungry for the Word of God.  She wanted to read the Bible like me.  The training center offered a class to teach her how to read.  Papa God helped her to learn.  If you and I are hungry to read the Word of God, He can help us.”

“Two other sisters* wanted to learn to read the Bible.  Remember, if you and I are hungry to read Papa God’s Word, He can help us.  When we would go to church I asked my sisters to sit down close to me.  When I opened my Bible, I opened their Bibles.  When the pastor told us what chapter to go to, I opened my Bible to it and I opened their Bibles to it also.  I showed them what verse the Pastor would read.  I told them when the Pastor reads they must look at their Bibles.  When the pastor began to read, I pointed to each word in my Bible, and I told them to point to each word as the pastor read them.   They did this over and over and now they can read.  Papa God helped them!”

“I have a cousin who came to Bible study and was very hungry to learn to read God’s word.  She didn’t get to go to school, so she couldn’t read.  She prayed and prayed, and Papa God helped her to read Tok Pisin**.  Now she can read the Bible in Tok Pisin.  She decided since God helped her to read Tok Pisin she would ask Him to help her to learn to read in English too.  She prayed and prayed and God helped her to learn to read the Bible in English too.  Remember, if you ask Papa God, He will help you.”

*In much of Papua New Guinean culture sister can refer to close friends and family such as cousins as well as true sisters.

**Tok Pisin is a commonly used trade language in Papua New Guinea, the Bible is available in this trade language.