The remote island village of Karawai in eastern Indonesia is home to a small community of around 300 people who make their living from seafood and diving for oysters (mostly for mother-of-pearl, and very occasionally a pearl). They have most of what they need on the island, including a school, a health centre, and their own brand-new church building, complete with a seafood-themed pulpit!
While a lobster pulpit may not make much sense to us, to this community it makes absolute sense, as it speaks clearly of God’s provision. Since the people on this island make their living from selling lobsters, pearls and prawns, they consider God has richly blessed them through the bounty offered by the sea which surrounds their village.
They decided to build a new church a couple of years ago. The old church was not only becoming too small for the growing congregation, but the building had also become termite-ridden beyond repair. It was clear they needed to build a new, bigger, termite-free church, but the design they set their sights on would be expensive. Luckily, there was no shortage of local dedication to the goal of a new church building and pulpit. The men of the village went prawn-fishing, and after three days of working all day long, they had caught and sold a total of two tonnes of prawns in order to raise the money. It was hard work, but the men considered it worth it for a new church building.
These people speak the Dobel language, and can look forward to a complete New Testament in a few years’ time. Currently, actually published Dobel Scripture is as follows: the Joseph story, Ruth, Jonah, Mark, Luke, Acts, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, James, and 1, 2 and 3 John.
Want to see more? Check out our video about the Dobel translation project.