The Pastor at our regular church invited us to speak to their Friday night youth group. Knowing that PNG church structures and norms can differ greatly from our Aussie experiences, we asked what age range comes along on the night, hoping to make sure our presentation would be appropriate. He didn’t respond clearly, so we rephrased the question slightly. “Oh, from twelve to about forty.” came the answer, making clear why he obviously felt that the question was an odd one!
In PNG churches, “youth” seems to refer to anyone who is yet to marry and start a family. It makes for interesting dynamics – the older ones are very inclusive of younger ones, and take their mentoring role seriously, and in turn, the young ones are respectful of anyone older.
We shared our journey into mission service, and some brief points about the work of Wycliffe in PNG, noting the opportunities that exist for PNG Nationals to be involved in the task of bible translation. The highlight of the evening, for our audience at least, was the language map showing all of the completed and current Wycliffe translation projects in PNG. Everyone was keen to find their tok ples (vernacular language) on the map.
The Pastor commented that he does not use the Tok Pisin Bible in church as it is limited in its vocabulary and expression, lacking the richness of either English or tok ples. He uses his Wahgi translation in private reading, yet we have seen this godly teacher struggle with reading from the English in a clear and expressive manner during worship services – for many Nationals it takes effort and concentration to read from an English language Bible. It is no wonder that the interest in tok ples Scripture resources endures, even amongst those who have some form of English-based education.
As we farewelled the group and headed for home, God had one more blessing in store for us. The security guards at the main gate to the church property asked for a copy of one of the information booklets we gave out. There is spiritual hunger in PNG at every turn.
Please pray …
- that God would move more Nationals to get involved in translation of the Scriptures.
- that tok ples Scripture resources would lead to a greater understanding of God’s word, and highlight the relevance of the Gospel to the people of PNG.