Passing the baton…


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 20150725_8authority 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.

20150725_6_largeThe 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.

“Now we can understand!”

One of the many people that we have come through the Lae Centre is Kim (and Annie) Colich who have been in PNG since 1991 working with the Tami people near Finschhafen, on the South East corner of the Huon peninsula, Morobe Province.

Tami dedicationOn Sunday 31st May 2015 the Gospel of John was dedicated for the Tami people. Kim writes, ‘At the service, the translation committee chairman said, ‘This talk is Jesus. This talk is true talk. This talk is holy talk. This talk is pure talk. This talk is Life. To those who receive and follow these words correctly, God will come and dwell within them and remove darkness from them, and give them light and life. God’s words will help all who believe and hold tightly to them.”’

At the end of their stay, Kim and Annie had sold all of the Audibibles, phone SD memory cards and a small number of Gospels.They recently spent two and a half months in Malasiga Village selling the Audibibles, preparing for the dedication, encouraging and motivating the villagers to continue the work of translation while they are on a year’s furlough in the US beginning July 2015.Untitled

It became very clear that the Scriptures in audio form are what most excite the people…many times, we saw faces light up as an AudiBible was turned on and they (the Villagers) heard John being read in Tami. Over and over the comment was, “Yes! This is real Tami. It is clear. Now we can understand!”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14 v 6

Kim and Annie want to see the Tami people and community with changed lives because of God’s Word being translated into their own heart language to the glory of God.

Prayer Points

  •  Rejoice witUntitled 3h us that the powerful, life-giving, life-changing Word of God is now in the hands of many Tami people in a language that speaks clearly to their hearts!
  • Pray that the Tami villagers will continue to listen and read John’s Gospel.