Posts Tagged ‘Papua New Guinea’

Essential cogs in the machine

Friday, March 20th, 2015

It’s easy to think that to translate the Bible you need linguist translators, and of course that is true. However, there are many other roles that need to be filled in order for the word of God to get into the hands of the communities for which it is being translated.

Joe and Heather at the Madang Centre

Joe and Heather at the Madang Centre

Joe and Heather are regional centre managers in Papua New Guinea. The following story from them, shows how they are essential cogs in the translation machine:

‘God timed it perfectly, for the Anjam New Testament recording to happen here during the first week of February! They had done a lot of recording in the village, but there are always so many interruptions, family and community commitments, and constant background noise.

There were 280 lines which urgently needed recording, or re-recording. Sam Kenny, the coordinator of Faith Comes By Hearing in Papua New Guinea, wrote and asked if we had a flat available for them to stay in, and a room for making into a studio to do the recording. Yes we did, and they could have the flat next door for their studio.

We were painting the third flat and so able to offer use of the spare mattresses for sound-proofing. Sam came early and created a wonderful sound-proof booth in the second flat using the mattresses from Flat 3. The main Anjam translator, Sobu Waga, and his wife helped test the sound, and before the others arrived all of us on the Regional Centre staff went and had a look at the studio.’

Sam and Sobu explain the recording setup to the Madang centre team

Sam and Sobu explain the recording setup to the Madang centre team

There are many needs around the world for people to serve as ‘support staff’. The vacancies list shows a wide range of roles as diverse as a facilities manager in Ethiopia and a boat crewmen in Australia. Would you consider using your skills?

Let’s pray:

  • Praise God for the successful recording in Anjam.
  • Please pray for completion of the project soon so that Anjam people will be able to hear God’s Word and respond in obedience and faith.

Also pray for:

  • Joe and Heather have faced some struggles recently. Pray for God’s grace and encouragement.
  • Ask God to supply many people willing to take on support roles to enable God’s word to be translated around the world.

Have a look at some of the jobs that need to be filled in order for Bible translation to go ahead.

God in the midst of our questions

Friday, March 6th, 2015

One of the things that I’ve learned working for Wycliffe Bible Translators is that when we pray we see that not only can God ‘accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think’*  but that he often answers in a way that we least expect.

Edward practises one of the stories

In February a team went to Yabru in the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea to hold a course in Bible storytelling. Flooding of the training location was a real possibility since it was rainy season. The course was being held just before the start of the school year. Some attendees had been preoccupied with finding money for school fees and hadn’t decided whether to come or not.

But beyond the practical issues, they also faced the significant challenge of finding a method of memorising stories that worked for the participants in their cultural context. Methods used in the past hadn’t really worked.

The team and many others prayed, and God answered. In fact the team said,

God was right there in the midst of our questions with his answers.’ 

Read the whole story, ‘Rejoice with us!’ to find out the remarkable ways that God answered prayer.

Maybe you are facing a challenge in your own life, and don’t know what the answer to your insurmountable problem could be.  Let this story inspire you to ask God for an unpredictable answer!

And as those in Bible translation around the world are also facing challenges and complications, setbacks and attrition, let’s keep praying for them too, asking God to act, but not limiting how he may answer. Some of the most inspiring answers to prayer come out of the times when we reach the end of ourselves, unable to see the way ahead, and God made a way through!

For more stories about what God is doing in Bible translation in Papua New Guinea check out the Sepik Partnership and Engagement Strategy Facebook page or read The PNG Experience blog.

*Ephesians 3:20 NLT

Don’t lose your head

Monday, February 9th, 2015

“Who are you who come to me with a stick and sling like a dog?!” roared Goliath, towering over the tiny David. “You are nothing!!!!” He shook with rage.

And then, his head promptly fell off.

Not again! I peeked above the tabletop, trying to see where his cardboard noggin might have flown to, as the audience roared with laughter.

No, it’s not a strange, alternative translation of the Old Testament story, just one of the adventures that comes from working with children and giants!

Catherine helps individuals and communities in Papua New Guinea engage with the Bible, even when they have only a little bit – or none at all – printed in their language. In September, one of the ways she helped do this was at a workshop for Sunday school teachers. Read her post to see what duck, duck, goose, three-legged races and buckets of water have to do with Sunday school lessons.

But, to get back to Goliath…

Photo by Rebecca Drew via

“I come in the name of the God of Israel!” squeaked David, as I frantically tried to shove Goliath’s head back on his stick body and leaf armor. “And He fights for us!” David whirled a piece of vine above his head and sent the tiny stone flying into Goliath’s forehead—knocking off his head once again.

Now, even the cooks had emerged from the fires to find out what the commotion was and were crying, they were laughing so hard. Inga, my puppet partner, and I kept biting back the giggles, as I rewedged the head into the twig.

“Victory!” crowed David, wiggling in a happy dance. “The God of Israel has won!” David picked up the pocket knife and attempted to saw off the head of the fallen Goliath.. .but now the head wouldn’t come off. Finally, Inga jumped up and jerked the head off. “Hooray!!!”

Read all of Catherine’s blog post.

If you want children in your local church to engage more with the Bible, have a look at the great resources we can offer on our website. Many of them are great for adults too!

More than just educators

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Becoming a support worker in the world of mission may not seem very glamorous but often it is the support workers that are the critical cogs in the mission ‘machine’. Take teachers, for example: without good educational support many missionary families would not be able to be overseas.

The role of a teacher in a mission school setting can be so much more than just imparting knowledge. Watch this video about Ukarumpa International School and discover the critical importance of teachers to Bible translation and language development.

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‘As translators living in a remote part of Papua New Guinea (PNG) there’s a lot of challenges that come with that and UIS has met that challenge for us.’

Please pray:

  • that UIS will be able to recruit all the teachers and other staff they need, so that they can continue supporting families who are involved in Bible translation in Papua New Guinea.
  • that God will equip the teachers at UIS and elsewhere in the world to work in these unique environments and meet the needs of the children and families they are serving.

Find out how for one family in UIS teachers help in their unique way of doing school and by influencing for good.

Find out more about teaching needs around the world.

Translating little words and stopping bullets

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

How hard can translating ‘in’ and ‘him’ really be? Does God stop bullets? How do a couple go from working in a casino in Las Vegas to Bible translation in Papua New Guinea? And, if you were caught in a downpour in Papua New Guinea, what can you use instead of an umbrella?

Wycliffe Canada’s latest magazine has the spotlight on Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea and one with a history of war. As they take the tour through translation work in the area, Word Alive answers all these questions and provides a mesmerising view of the people and places through their beautiful photography and award-winning journalism.

Wycliffe Canada’s latest magazine is available on their website, alongside an online exclusive. Perfect reading for fact-finders, but stay away if you don’t want to be inspired!

If you are on the lookout for information about the work Wycliffe in the UK are involved in, you can download our magazine here.

My language is very sweet

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Often the first encounter of God’s word comes by hearing, not reading it.  The Kamano-Kafe language community of Papua New Guinea are getting their first delicious taste of God’s word as audio players called Audibibles are used:

“The Audibible goes where we cannot,” explained SIL translation advisor Rich Mattocks, speaking of the hand-held, solar powered audio player. “These are excellent in Papua New Guinea where many areas do not have electricity.”

Audibible in use

One day one of the translators, James, received a message that his elderly Aunt Beniftio had died and he asked to be excused from the translation work to visit his extended family during the days of mourning.

Months before her death, his aunt bought an Audibible. Bedridden, Benifitio asked others to take the Audibible outside each day to be charged in the sun, but she warned them not to carry it away from her house. As friends and family stopped by to visit her in the evenings, Benifitio’s Audibible was playing. When her younger brother Marco* came and listened to the Scriptures, he accepted Christ and his life was changed. Many others also heard the Word of God spoken in their heart language on Benifitio’s Audibible.

When James arrived for the days of mourning, the family welcomed him and asked, “What have you been doing?” When he answered, “I’ve been translating the Kamano-Kafe scriptures,” Marco’s face brightened and he said to James, “Thank you for turning God’s talk into our language. The Kamano-Kafe language is very sweet and I understand it. I quit going to church because the message didn’t make sense to me in the trade language or when pastors used English. But when I heard God’s talk being spoken in our own language on the Audibible I understood it and now I believe in Jesus.” (full post from the PNG Experience)

The ultimate aim of any translation project is to see lives changed as the Scriptures are understood and applied. Through a wide variety of work, using audio or video Scriptures, drama or song, the message is shared in relevant ways suitable to each community’s culture and traditions.  Find out why the use of media is so important in the Bible translation movement.

Bible translation needs managers

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Let’s break a preconception: Bibles aren’t translated by just one very dedicated man with a quill. They probably never have been (even Luther had a team!) and now, more than ever, Bible translation is tackled as a team.

But it’s better than most team projects: in this project, the result is only the beginning, as God’s word bears fruit in the lives of those who hear and read it. In this project, we have the ultimate team leader, Jesus, the Head of the Body. And in this project, whatever your skills, there’s something you can do.

This video from our partners in Papua New Guinea explains about their need for one of those invaluable, but oft forgotten roles: managers.

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Whether it’s for three months or three decades, in Papua New Guinea or in Paraguay, there’s a way you can play a part. If you are interested in seeing how you could serve overseas in Bible translation, these are your three next steps:

  1. Get a glimpse into some of the different roles on the Wycliffe website.
  2. Plan to join us at the October Next Step event with other people looking to change their lives to serve God.
  3. Chat to someone from the Wycliffe offices about what you could do.

Stronger than the spirits?

Monday, July 14th, 2014

When the Årsjö’s first arrived to work with the Ama people, there were no Christians. That fact didn’t change for the first six years they worked there. In the seventh, the first person – one of the men working with them on the translation – chose to believe in Jesus.

The Ninigo Islands, Papua New Guinea

The Ninigo Islands, Papua New Guinea

As the message spread and more people started to follow Jesus, there was one big issue that needed addressing: spirits.

Sören and Britten Årsjö looked in amazement at the young woman lying on their porch, as Albert, one of Ama translators, pleaded with them. “Please, you must do something!”

In traditional Papua New Guinean beliefs, the practice of sorcery and fear of the spirits govern daily life. In Ama, the word, popuwa, meant “evil spirit;” there was no such thing as a “good spirit.” A cursed person was doomed to die within three days—and if he or she told anyone, death would be immediate.

So, when Albert’s cousin courageously told him she’d been cursed, he acted immediately. They all gathered around the girl and began praying fervently, as well as administered antibiotics to help counteract any potential infection caused by the custom of inserting bone fragments into the sorcery victim’s body. They waited and prayed and waited, the whole village watching. Would she die? Or would this God be more powerful than sorcery and spirits?

Find out what happened to the girl and to the Ama community on Catherine’s blog.

We believe God can transform lives and communities, and sharing his word is a fantastic way to introduce people to him. Agree? We’re looking for people to support Bible translation through prayer, giving, advocating in churches and going to serve.

What a start!

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

The day began with sunshine, but by midday, the rain was pouring down on the Nukna people gathered. It didn’t put a dampener on their celebrations. They were launching the books of Ruth and Mark – the first Scripture in the Nukna people:

Excitement filled the air as crowds gathered from all over the Nukna language area. Palm branches and flowers decorated the grounds, and the beat of drums filled the air. Young men dressed in traditional sing-sing attire danced and sang out in the local language, “God’s Word has come to us! God’s Word has come to us! Let’s welcome it and find true life!”

Photo: Tim Scott

After a big celebration, there is always a risk that the word will be forgotten, or that new books will only sit ceremonially on shelves. Not so with these Nukna books. Already, church leaders are using the new books and the community is making plans for more translation.

In the village church service the following Sunday, instead of reading that morning’s text in the pidgin, their second language, the leaders read God’s word in Nukna. The reading in their heart language communicated God’s message to them much more clearly than the second language had.

In the weeks following the dedication, the villagers were eager to participate in the continuing translation work, as linguist Matt Taylor tested and revised the book of Luke. Volunteers gathered on the grass beside the church or in the translation officer to listen and offer suggestions on how to make the words flow like natural Nukna talk. At times there were more than forty people participating in these ‘village checks’!

Mark and Ruth are just the start for this community – but what a start! Bible translation can take a long time and even before these books could be launched, a lot of work has gone on. But now, church leaders can teach people God’s word in their own language; parents can read Bible stories to their children; musicians can write songs based on the word of God. What a start! Read the full article on The PNG Experience blog.

Join in supporting Bible translation around the world.

When sorrows like sea billows roll

Monday, June 16th, 2014

If you regularly sing with other Christians, you probably have a favourite hymn or song. You’ll know it because its the one song that you always sing with audible abandon, which brings you to your knees or leaves you in floods of tears. Mine (confession time!) is ‘It is well with my soul’. If you didn’t love it before, I think that this story of a Papua New Guinean community singing it in celebration will bring it close to your heart.

Emotions ran strong as the choir sang “Masina, Masina…” at the Mussau hymnal dedication. Masina means “Thank you,” “that’s great” and is even used as a greeting in the Mussau language. But as the choir sang, it meant only one thing: “It is well, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

On this day, these precious words had special meaning to the Mussau people. In February, John and Marjo Brownie were travelling from Mussau to Emirau Island with Leslie their co-translator and three others when the boat hit an unusually rough wave, immediately capsizing their small craft. The boat sank in seconds, setting all six adrift. John and Leslie became separated from Marjo, the boat captain and the other two men. They all drifted with the current but miraculously came ashore on Emirau’s western shore, John and Leslie arriving just before dark. If they had missed the island, the next land would have been Nauru, over 600 miles away. When the boat capsized, John’s computer and all the recent translation work went overboard.

The day before the hymnbook dedication, John and Marjo visited Emirau Island for the first time since the boating accident. They were tearfully greeted by the Emirau people who presented the Brownies with some of their belongings that had washed ashore, several days after the accident. When John opened a case that contained the computer with all the recent translation work, everyone cheered! Many people around the world had been praying that this work would be recovered.

Hundreds of people came the next day to the hymnbook dedication… As they listened to the choir sing Masina, it was hard not be filled with grateful emotions. Many amazing things had happened that not only preserved everyone’s lives but also saved the Words of Life that had been lost at sea. Now these wonderful words were being sung in the heart language of the people.

Those tears of joy when we sing to God come because we can sing from our hearts to God’s heart in our own language. But millions still sing to God in someone else’s language, because church isn’t done in theirs. It’s one of the many beautiful changes that Bible translation can bring. Support Bible translation.

The story and the photograph are from Tim Scott, posting about Bible translation in Papua New Guinea at Read the full story.