Joe came to our reception window enquiring about the availability of a room for he and his wife. On hearing the cost, he headed back out to his vehicle. Perhaps it was more than he intended to pay on this occasion.
He soon returned, explaining that God convicted them to stay with us as the money would support mission work. While checking in, Joe noticed the PNG map in our foyer showing the many language groups which have had a translation work commence. He located his home area and asked if there was anything produced in Arapesh (vernacular language).
Armed with our new digital source of translation material, SaveLongGod (see our June 2016 Newsletter), Elspeth was able to provide Joe with an audio version of Mark’s Gospel which he immediately had playing on his mobile phone. Joe will return soon to collect a CD with additional material, including the complete New Testament in pdf and other recordings.
God is good. Joe came to us willing to support the ministry of Bible translation, using his finances in a thoughtful. intentional way, and God provided a blessing for him that he had not imagined.
There are thousands of people in PNG who have moved away from their traditional home regions – away from the tok ples language they learnt in their youth. In Joe’s case, he was unaware of the Scripture resources available in Arapesh, but is now excited at the opportunity of sharing this with other Arapesh speakers in his home village and wherever he meets them throughout PNG.
Joe just needs his phone and a willing audience.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11
Please pray …
that Joe, and many believers like him, would have opportunities to share the Gospel with their families and other tok ples speakers
for us at the Lae Centre to have wisdom in making best use of the Scripture resources that have been made available
for the hundreds of language groups yet to be reached with the Gospel in tok ples
During our two years here in Lae, I have been involved with a women’s Bible study, initially using study guides in English then switching to Tok Pisin to help me with my language learning.
Recently we had an international visitor who encouraged the women to continue meeting together and provided guidance in terms of organisation and future expansion into other study groups. She also arranged for a quantity of Tok Pisin Bibles to be used with similar groups starting in the Finschhafen region west of Lae.
The study groups provide PNG women with the opportunity to share what it means to be a Christian in the context of their culture, and to encourage each other in living out their faith daily.
Three of the Lae group arrived at our office today to collect the Bibles, which will be sold at half price to raise funds for an upcoming mission trip to the Highlands planned for late August.
Please pray …
for the women to continue to grow in their faith and be witnesses to family and friends of God’s grace, love and mercy
for the Bible study groups to expand to other regions and be effective in encouraging and training women
that the leadership and study skills gained would prove a blessing to the local church communities
for those intending to join the mission trip, that travel plans and funding would be arranged in time
This Sunday morning brought a new experience for us. The Pastor at a local church plant visits our centre regularly as our organisation assists him in his role of coordinating the prison ministry in Lae. We gladly accepted the invitation to speak about the work of Bible translation and our supporting role. It was then made clear that he wanted me to autim tok (preach) and, yes, the service is in tok pisin. [ At the end of the service he threw me the task of publicly dedicating a newly married couple ….. that was certainly a new experience! ]
Preaching in a second language may seem a little daunting at first, but as I started preparing I realised that the vocabulary necessary for a tok pisin sermon is all there in the Scriptures. ‘Church speak’ is less involved than the tok pisin used in day-to-day living. From day one, the Tok Pisin Bible has been a primary source of becoming familiar with the language. Writing out the sermon – taken from Philippians 2 and Ephesians 4 – using the Bible to clarify certain phrases and expressions proved helpful.
Yupela olgeta i mas holim wanpela tingting tasol, na bihainim wanpela pasin bilong laikim tru ol arapela. Yupela i mas i stap wanbel tru. Filipai 2:2b
What turned out to be difficult was the actual preaching. Presenting what I had prepared was not the issue, but being content with the simplicity of the language proved to be the challenge. I wanted to say so much, to challenge the church with the need to be serving each other while focused on building each other up in Christ. To be looking to Christ as the source of that true Christian love for their brothers and sisters. The language and cultural barrier seemed to leave me searching for ways to fill the words with meaningful emotion.
It gave a real insight into why Bible translation is so critical. Many Papua New Guineans can read tok Pisin and even English, yet texts in these languages are often just a collection of words – individual meanings may be understood, but the emotion and expression behind phrases, sentences and paragraphs can be lost in the labourious task of reading. I was able to construct a tok pisin sentence, and combine sentences into a sermon….. but could I truly make it say anything meaningful?
Yet speak the Scriptures to someone in their heart language, and their minds are opened to the full capacity of expression and emotion. They hear truly the heart of God speaking to them in His powerful and beautiful word.
Please pray …
that the people of PNG would be enabled to receive God’s word in a meaningful way
that individual Christians, and churches would be strengthened by sound teaching