Last week we had the pleasure of welcoming our pastor and his wife, Ross and Lisa, from our home church 121 Community Church. It was so great to see them again after 2 1/2 years and to show them around Papua New Guinea. We had the chance to take them to a traditional PNG meal called a “mumu” at one of our friend’s villages. They came to one of the youth services where Evan and I lead worship as well as ate with some of our friends and heard their experiences. We also got the chance to go to town and market and even drive to Goroka where they bought some souvenirs and see some of the countryside. We had such a great time with them just being able to debrief about our time here and show them what its like to live and work here. We are so grateful that they took the time to come here and really understand what its like. Here are some pictures of their time here.
In August Evan and I had the opportunity to attend the Anjam Revised Scripture and Audio Recording Dedication. We were excited because our village family from POC training was apart of this language group, and it was great to get to go back to Madang and see them! Check out this story I wrote about the day as well as the video.
The Anjam language group located close to Madang, Papua New Guinea had its revised Scripture and audio recording dedication on August 14, 2015. The first New Testament was dedicated in 2001 by Robert and Diane Rucker. The couple attended the second dedication with their two daughters, son-in-law and family friend Kris. The Anjam people were so excited to see them that they even built a brand new house painted bright yellow for them to stay in while they attended the dedication. As Robert and Diane’s family and Kris began to dress for the occasion, donning colorful leaves and red paint on their skin, laughter was heard in the air as the Ruckers remembered their work on the New Testament all those years ago. They first began the translation project in 1980 and began living in the village and learning the language. Then in 2001 they finished the New Testament and moved back to the U.S. with their family. Twelve years went by and they began to see that improvements could make the New Testament clearer and more precise, so they began to think about doing a revision. So in 2012 Robert came to the village with Kris for a couple of months and he worked with church leader Sobu Waga and others. At the dedication, Sobu urged his fellow Anjam speakers to step up and help him work on the Old Testament. He said, “This isn’t the end of the translation project! We still have to finish the Old Testament.” Many of the village men partnered with Sam Kenny of Faith Comes By Hearing to make an audio recording of the New Testament in the Anjam language. On dedication day Sam passed out “Proclaimers,” solar powered devices that contain the recorded New Testament, for free to many of the families with the promise that he would hear back about their use of these recorders. Sobu expressed his joy to have these audio recordings, “I was worried that many of the children who don’t yet know how to read won’t understand the full meaning of God’s Word. But now if their parents have these recorders they can hear the Word of God and know Him.” He said, “My stomach is happy that all of the Anjam people can now hear with their ears, look with their eyes and read the Word of God.”
The speakers of the Awa language in Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea received a revision of the New Testament about 20 years ago. However, very few people could read it, and many unpurchased Bibles sat collecting dust and cobwebs. Many of the village women kept their NT in their bilum, carrying it with them to the garden, looking through it, desperately trying to read it. But no matter how much they tried, they couldn’t read. The Bibles eventually became a symbol of shame for them. They got together and put their books into a house, with plans to burn the house and Bibles, along with their shame, to the ground. But just as they struck the match to light the fire, it began to rain. It rained so hard that they began to think that this was a sign from God—God didn’t want them to burn the books!
Later, they expressed their interest in learning to read. This woman came and taught literacy classes using the Awa New Testament, since that was the only literature in Awa. As they learned to read, the people got excited and began to buy the Bibles that had been sitting and collecting dust. When they opened the books, they expected them to be worn and frayed with age, but God had protected them, and the pages were as good as new. Eventually the Bibles sold out because everyone was so excited about getting their own. Now everyone in the village has a New Testament in their bilum and knows how to read it.
The air was filled with excitment as the Waskia people gathered to celebrate the arrival of the revised Scriptures in their own language. The event included singing, dancing, and gift-giving. One of the speakers, Andrew Kwimberi, reminded the people that this was not just another book, but a book that could change their lives and their nation. He encouraged them to drink in its sweetness, to read it every day, and to apply in a practical context.
As the dedication ceremony drew to a close, rain began to fall and people filled the tent to buy copies of the Scriptures in their own language. The boxes quickly emptied so twenty more were brought and sales continued.
The celebration was the culmination of a journey of translation that had started in 1976, when Fay Barker and Janet Lee joined the Waskia people on Karkar Island. With the help of many the first Waskia New Testament was completed, plus Old Testament books, and these were dedicated in 1985. Both returned to the island in Madang Province six or seven years ago and a team has been steadily working to revise these and also add six further Old Testament books as well.
One key translator has been Pastor Lavong, who arrived at the celebration adorned with seashells and a traditional headdress. As drumbeats rolled and people danced, he related the story of his frustration in his early years of preaching. When he saw the blank faces of his congregation he had realized, “God’s book must be translated into the language of the people for them to really understand what the Lord wants them to do.” He has spent many years now as part of the Waskia translation team, and hopes to complete the remaining 30 Old Testament books within the next few years. Pastor Lavong held the Bible close to his heart as he said, “When I sat down to help with translation, I thought it would only change the life of others…but it changed my life too.” He exclaimed with a big grin, “Now this translation will bring meaning and change the lives of the people of Karkar Island.”
Pastor Lavong reading the scriptures.
Last weekend Evan went out to a village to show the Jesus Film with a team of guys from Ukarumpa. Two teams went out to two separate villages. Even though there were several technical difficulties with the projector and technology, they were still able to show it…even if it was on a 10 inch screen inside one of the houses. Over 100 people showed up to watch it! Then they were able to sell all sorts of different Bibles to the people, Bibles in their language, English Bibles and Audio Bibles. It was a unique experience that Evan was so thankful to be apart of.
Gathered around listening to an Audi-Bible (Audio Bible)