One Body, Many Parts

Story by Stephanie Ernandes, Photo by Susan Frey

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“In my technical world it is hard to see the connection between what I am doing here at CTS (Communication and Technical Services) and the actual processes of Bible translation and it’s even harder to convince the supporters back home,” said Marius Taciuc, a missionary from Romania.  “I was always looking for a way of showing this connection.”

Marius met Bible translators Jim and Joan Farr some time ago.  He had helped them with their computers and had given them technical advice from time to time.  When he heard that Jim and Joan would be celebrating the completion of the Baruga New Testament, Marius was excited about the possibility of going with them to the village to celebrate.  “When I heard that they were having this Bible dedication I wanted to go there to assist them.”

The day of the dedication the Baruga people had put together a drama to perform. This drama confused Marius.  The actors pretended as though they were searching for the Word of God.  They had placed markers on the stage that represented different villages they were traveling to in search of God’s Word.  At some point they reached a village where they found a Bible laying on the ground along a river.  They picked the Bible up. It was an English Bible and they tried to read what was on the cover.  Joking around they said to one another that the letters BIBLE must stand for “Belief Instructions Before Leaving Earth.”  They decided that some white missionary must have left it there because he was scared of them and had run away. Leaving the Bible there on the side of the river they left.

Marius later asked what it meant.  He was told that many, many years ago when missionaries first came to these people, they came with their English Bibles.  “The people looked at the English Bible, they tried to understand it, but for many years it was just a book of instructions and nothing more,” said Marius.  It had no impact on their hearts.

One man at the dedication expressed to Marius that it took him a long time to understand what Jim and Joan were bringing to his village.  However, he realized, over time, that they were bringing the true gospel, a gospel he later on came to understand as the true Word of God spoken to him in his own language.

“Through this experience I was very encouraged in my work, in what I do daily.  That was the blast of energy I needed to carry on.  It was also a big encouragement for the people back home.  I managed to make some videos and write some letters to send back home, and hundreds of people had the opportunity to see them.  It wasn’t only me moved by this experience but the people back home as well.”

 

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Child Engages with Scripture

Story by Elias, a Yamap Translator, with Janeen Michie, photo by Janeen Michie

IMG_4830_Childengageswithscripture.jpgPapua New Guinea has many languages and people groups. Numerous language groups are difficult to access because the land is covered in mountains, forests, rivers, and swamps. Some villages are so remote that villagers can only travel by foot and it may be a few days walk.

Yabumluk is a Yamap village on a high mountain ridge. The people there use their own language most of the time, but since they’ve never had the Scriptures available in Yamap, they hold their church services in Tok Pisin. On a recent Sunday they used the Yamap Scripture booklet that we had produced for them to use in their services. A young boy, about 6 years old, was there. He had not been listening to the service, which was being held in Tok Pisin, but when the Scripture portion was read in Yamap, he focused and listened carefully. After the service, he kept talking about that Scripture portion. The adults who heard him were very surprised that a young boy like that could preach the gospel.

Elias, who was in Yabumluk that Sunday, said, “This touched my heart.”

Clouds of Opportunity

Story and photo by Karen Weaver

2010-08-07CloudsKW.jpgOne cloudy day, pilot Jamie Halverson flew a few passengers to an airstrip in a language area that already has the completed New Testament. Sadly, in the plane he also carried a coffin holding a body to be buried in their home village.

After an aborted first attempt due to poor visibility, Jamie found an opening in the clouds and was able to land the airplane safely. However, by the time everyone had unloaded and he was ready to take off again, clouds had closed in the valley, making it unsafe to fly.

Jamie waited by the airplane, hoping the weather might improve. A group of people of various ages joined him under the wing of the airplane, taking shelter from the heavy mist that was falling. Since the body of one of their people had just been brought to the village, Jamie realized this was an opportune time to talk to them about death and the hope we have in Christ. They listened carefully as he shared the Gospel and encouraged them to use their New Testaments. They nodded in agreement when he pointed out that life here on earth is short but the life offered by Jesus Christ is forever.

The clouds did not clear again that day, and Jamie ended up spending a restless night trying to sleep amid the intermittent sounds of chickens, dogs, and mourners. However, he was grateful the clouds had kept him in the village an extra night because of the opportunity the time had provided to share about what is most important to him.

My Heart Will Go Thud

Story by Adam Boyd

One of the thingsthud_pic.jpg I love about Enga is the rich metaphors it employs. Sometimes, however, these metaphors can be difficult to grasp at first. There is one particular metaphor that I have struggled to understand precisely: mona lyuu lenge. I knew that the entire phrase meant something like ‘to be at peace in your heart’. I also knew that mona meant ‘heart’ and that lenge meant ‘produce a sound’, but I really struggled to know what lyuu meant. Usually a word that comes before lenge is some sort of sound or speech, but what sound is produced when your heart is at peace?

As we were translating Philippians 2:19, the team used this phrase to describe how Paul would feel when he received news of how the Philippians were doing. So I asked the team what exactly mona lyuu lenge meant. Often it is hard to get a straightforward answer to such questions, but the team explained that the literal meaning of lyuu lenge is the sound that is made when a large object hits the ground. For example, when a cluster of pandanus nuts hits the ground, it makes such a sound. Finally I realized that the word lyuu literally means ‘thud’ and that lyuu lenge means ‘go thud’ or ‘make a thud sound’.

Well, I was happy to figure out the literal meaning of the word lyuu, but I still couldn’t see what it had to do with being at peace in your heart. The team then further explained that when you feel anxious about something, it is like your heart is hung up on whatever it is that you are anxious about. But when your anxiety is relieved, your heart falls back into place. And when your heart falls back into place, metaphorically speaking, it makes a thud sound just like a cluster of pandanus nuts when it falls to the ground.

So, in the Enga translation of Philippians 2:19, Paul literally writes, “When [Timothy] tells me how you are doing, I will hear and then my heart will go thud.” I think my own heart went thud when I finally realized the meaning of this rich metaphor!

 

For the Glory of the Lord

Story by Stephanie Ernandes, Photo by Marius Taciuc

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It was the first time Marius would get to attend a New Testament Bible dedication.  “I didn’t know what to expect at first.  It turned out to be a very emotional event.”  After arriving in the village where the dedication was to take place, Marius curiously looked at his surroundings. He estimated that there were about 1000 people there in the village.  He was amazed that they all seemed to have the same mindset.  “They were working together, singing together, and cooking food for the dedication together.”

“From time to time there were groups of about 100 or so that were coming out of their houses and singing hymns in their language as well as in Tok Pisin (the local trade language).  That is something you don’t see in the western world.  I was thinking to myself all the time: What would it take to see something like that happen in my home country? An entire village coming out of their houses singing for the glory of the Lord.  That was very emotional for me.  I realized that they were taking it seriously.  They were saying, this celebration of ours is very personal.”

 

 

At The Heart Level

Story by Stephanie Ernandes, Photo by Leah Veil 

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“’Was God trying to kill me?’ the pastor asked a roomful of his fellow earthquake survivors.  The man’s eyes were full of tears, his face haunted by abandonment and betrayal.  ‘What did I do wrong?’ he asked in a voice barely audible before sitting back down on the grass-padded dirt floor of the church building.”

These were some of the questions asked of Leah Veil and her teammates. They had flown to Walagu, Papua New Guinea, to minister to a group of over 40 pastors and their wives (87 people total), all earthquake victims from the surrounding villages, now seeking refuge in Walagu.

Gathered in a small bamboo church, months after the terrors of the earthquakes – yet still quite shaken, many people stood up and shared similar stories and concerns.   The majority of them were desperately trying to figure out answers to questions like:  Is God angry?  Am I being punished? Does God really answer prayers?  Was God not able to help us?

These people had been taken care of physically by the generosity of so many across the world and in PNG.  But Leah and her group came to minister to a different need.  They’d come to walk through their trauma with them by taking them through a trauma healing/disaster response workshop.  They asked them to share their stories, their concerns, and their beliefs about God as a result of the tragedy they were all facing.  After much listening and many tears shed, they gently took them to the Word of God.

“For the next several days of the workshop, we talked about God being love.  About how, when we turn to Him, our sins are completely forgiven, never to be remembered again.  About how He is a loving father to His children.  Then we talked about the process of grieving and how to listen well to others who are in pain,” Leah remembered.  They finished up with an object lesson about how to take their own pain to Christ.

Leah was happy about how God worked in people’s hearts. She recalled, “Afterwards, one man testified that immediately following the earthquake, he’d known that there was no refuge to be found; Not in Walagu, not anywhere.  He said he’d lost his faith.  Yet, through the working of God’s Spirit during the workshop, he now knew that God loved him.  He said, ‘God is our ples hait (refuge).  When we leave here to go back to our village, God will be there, too. He will be our ples hait there as well because He loves us and will always be with us.’”

More Precious than Gold

Story by Elisa Kiputung, Malei national translator, photo by Janeen Michie

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Around Christmas I experienced many problems. Someone cut the power cords of my solar light, someone stole food from my garden, someone stole my chicken which I hoped would have many chicks, and they also stole my headphone/microphone that I use for recording the Scriptures. When all this happened to me I thought, “God you know what you are doing. I know you do not allow these problems to happen to hurt me. What does the light of God say about this? In Peter we read that the difficulties we experience are not meant to hurt us, but to help us.”

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 New Living Translation