Papua New Guineans love to celebrate, particularly when the occasion marks a real testimony to God’s faithfulness.
We were blessed to be a part of the celebrations surrounding the appointment of a new Director for PNG BTA – the Papua New Guinea Bible Translation Associaton. BTA is the product of a desire to see Papua New Guineans trained in linguistic skills and taking on more and more of the work of Bible translation in their own country.
The inaugural BTA Director, David Gela – who has filled this role for most of BTA’s thirty-five years – passed the task on to Tony Kotauga. Headship and authority is a big part of PNG culture, and the two men were led into the meeting by a contingent of family and folk from their respective churches. Check out the stirring entrances with the awesome bamboo band (well…. the modern PVC pipe equivalent).
The presiding Pastor spoke of Moses anointing Joshua as his successor, commissioning him to lead the people of Israel. In line with that biblical model, David anointed Tony with oil and prayed for he and his family, and the task they have undertaken.
The celebration continued in the grounds of the Ukarumpa Training Centre, with baskets of food for the many provinces represented, dancing and singing, and plenty of speeches – PNG folk can be unstoppable with a microphone in hand!
And talk about ceremonial gifting! Both the past and incoming BTA Directors and their families were presented with wood carvings, garlands of flowers, and numerous bilums [ woven bags] of differing size and style. Translation teams from different provinces expressed their gratefulness for what God had done through the Gela’s godly leadership, and prayed for the Kotaugas to be blessed in this role.
The overall impression was that of family and relationship. We keep saying it, but to be a part of what God is doing here – however small we may feel that part is – makes us family. We are joined in this task of seeing the word of God transform the people of PNG, and for them to give glory to God.
Tony Kotauga made a fitting speech, which noted that the very valley which Wycliffe’s Ukarumpa base is built on was an area associated with bloody tribal conflict. The surrounding tribes would come down from the hills to fight – and here they were, a unified gathering from every province of PNG celebrating the impact of the life-transforming Gospel.
We could have felt like spectators, but all of the Wycliffe folk there were invited to join in the feast and the celebration. We were welcomed as family…. but then, they’re just following the example of their Father.
“Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb”……The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 19:9, 22:17
Please pray …
– for the continuing relationship between Wycliffe and BTA as they work together in the translation of God’s word and literacy development throughout PNG. – praise God for the transformation in PNG culture brought about by the Gospel – for David and Seneina Gela as they take on a larger focus with Wycliffe working in Pacific Island Development. – for Tony and Serah Kotauga to be bold in guiding BTA on in new directions as they follow God’s leading.