Together, Jamie, Pete and Kelsie (left to right below) make up the Wycliffe 2018/19 GradTeam, serving in the Philippines since September. They share their experience of the Buhi’non New Testament celebration in October:
The New Testament is now in Buhi’non: Buhi’non speakers can read God’s word in the language of their thoughts. Praise God for the dedication of the translators, and the speed with which they were able to complete it – in just eight years!
Our journey began with an overnight bus, which took us to Buhi for our first experience of a New Testament celebration. We did not really know what to expect but we were excited knowing that now more people will understand God’s word in a deeper way.
While we stayed at Buhi, we ate sinarapan, the world’s smallest edible fish, which grows to around 12mm. Like the sinarapan, Buhi’non is a small fish compared to many other languages spoken in the world, with just 73,600 speakers. Humanly speaking, it may be tempting to think that languages with many more speakers hold greater importance. We don’t believe that is how God sees it. He has called us to share the good news with all people, and heaven celebrates whenever one person comes to know him.
The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. – Matthew 13:47
As the time for the celebration approached, various people representing the Translators Association of the Philippines arrived, sharing their stories with us, and their passion for this work.
The day before the celebration, we prayed for the event, visited the nearby lake, and met with the mayor of Buhi. Someone mentioned to her that the JESUS Film was available, which she had not been aware of. She was pleased to hear this and welcomed a suggestion that a copy of the film could be distributed with the first 100 New Testaments sold.
Later in the afternoon, we carefully checked each one of the Bibles to ensure that they had been printed and assembled correctly, with no missing pages. It was tedious work, but everyone pitched in. Thankfully we found no errors! We ended the day with a delicious meal and an early bedtime.
The big day! The celebration started at eight in the morning and lasted until noon. About 100 guests attended from various organisations and around 80 people from the community. Those who were directly involved in the translation spoke about the work which had gone into the project. The mayor of Buhi spoke of the significance of the translation to the community.
The celebration included three incredible dance performances by two local dance troupes. One troupe danced to more Western music and in a contemporary style. One of their performances (to the song 'Hallelujah' by Jeff Buckley) focused on the story of Jesus and they used a cross to portray his death and resurrection. The other troupe’s dance was a celebration of the local culture – local dance, local music, local clothing – and they danced with baskets and nets that are traditionally used to catch small fish.
‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’ – John 6:9
Several people received certificates in recognition of their contributions to the translation. We learned just how many people were involved in making this happen as people and organisations were acknowledged in the speeches – the leaders of the town, the local teachers, the Buhi’non translators, a local orthography team of about 50 people, the Translators Association of the Philippines, the Philippine Bible Society, Wycliffe Philippines… These were people with a shared vision: for Buhi’non speakers to be able to access the Bible in their own language. They each offered what they had to help make that possible, and God has given the growth – the New Testament is now available in Buhi’non.
While the number Buhi’non speakers may be small, let’s pray that God will use this translation powerfully to bring more people to know Christ.
If you are interested in using your gifts to serve with Wycliffe, why not come to one of our events, or find out more about GradTeam below.