Early January, we travelled to Lake Murray in the Western Province of PNG to attend the Kuni-Boazi New Testament dedication. The effort of making five flights across PNG was definitely worthwhile.
First, we met Elisabeth and Shawn (our daughter and son-in-law) in Port Moresby, so they had a fairly unique start to their 10-day visit. The SIL light aircraft which carried us and five others on the final leg of our journey was greeted by hundreds of locals, bearing floral leis and singing a welcome song penned for the event.
Welcome, welcome, welcome to our bible dedication. We are happy for you to be with us today. As we are members of the body of Jesus Christ, we are one in the Spirit of the Lord.
Earlier last year, the event was in doubt due to the impact of the drought on food supplies and potentially posing problems for those travelling by canoe. God is faithful, and subsequent rain has left the area lush and green…. yet still hot and humid! We felt right at home in conditions similar to the Townsville summer, but appreciated the opportunity for an afternoon dip in the lake. Visitors came from Switzerland (the translators’ home country), Germany, New Zealand and other parts of PNG. Shawn and Elisabeth did a great job representing Australia, chatting with locals in a mix of broken English and the little Tok Pisin they had acquired from our 24-hour crash course since arriving in Port Moresby.
The dedication ceremony on Sunday, January 10 was a blend of solemnity and joyous celebration. A box containing the NT scriptures – God’s covenant box – was carried in procession to the centre stage. It was deliberately reminiscent of the ark of the covenant. As the ark was the symbol of God’s presence amongst Israel, so the Kuni-Boazi translation confirms God’s desire for them to be a part of His people. A large banner hanging from the main stage proclaimed “God’s Word has arrived in the Kuni language”
Following the blessing and dedication of the new translation there were speeches from those involved and the various local church leaders. Roland and Irene Fumey had worked on the translation for 25 years, and the joy at seeing the task finally completed was evident in the community as they sang, danced, prayed and presented gifts to the Fumey’s and family members.
For all the spectacle and noise of the celebration, the highlight was undoubtedly the distribution of scripture materials – New Testaments, Audibible devices (refer our June 2015 newsletter) and SD cards for use with mobile phones.
Many had waited decades to experience God’s word in their heart language. It was encouraging to see people purchasing the audible resources to help them in developing their reading skills, as they are able to follow along with the recorded reader.
Not everyone in the crowd came forward to purchase their copy of the scriptures. As in all societies and communities, there are many who are yet to acknowledge Christ as Lord, and to submit to His will.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
Simply having the scriptures in your language is not enough. The community leaders who spoke gave a clear challenge to all, that they must take this book, and live by it, accepting its message of salvation in Christ.
Please pray …
- that those who have received the message with great eagerness (Acts 17:11) would be searching the scriptures and continue to grow in Christ daily.
- that the Christians rise to the challenge of witnessing to their community.
- for the church leaders to be renewed in their preaching of God’s word.