The grass withers …


While staying at the Regional Centre in Kokopo, East New Britain, I found a shelf with numerous photos of the region’s translation personnel over the years. I did not recognise most of the group other than a few who are still serving in PNG.

I started to think about all of the people who had been and gone as part of the translation work. I have met so many from all around the world, but of these past faithful servants, it is unlikely that we will ever meet so that they could become more to me than a photo on a wall.

Each of these personnel had relationships with their family, friends and mission supporters that enabled them to serve here in PNG. But with their work completed, they are largely forgotten other than by the colleagues they worked alongside. It is humbling to realise that in years to come, we too may be simply a photo in the Lae Regional Centre photo album.

However, the outcome of the work goes on. These translation staff have left behind a legacy of God’s word in the heart language of the communities in which they worked. Our work in Lae looks beyond our time as managers as we encourage and support the translation and literacy teams.

The grass withers, the flower fades,                                                                                                             but the word of our God will stand forever.   Isaiah 40 v 8

Please pray …

  • That we remain focussed on glorifying God in our work, rather than making a name for ourselves.
  • Giving thanks for the confidence that comes from knowing that the battle belongs to the Lord.


Making it count …

In a recent newsletter, a translator shared the difficulties of dealing with concepts within the Scriptures that may have no connection to the culture of a language group in Papua New Guinea. The following is Katri’s comments on translating number references from Revelation.

Have you noticed how many numbers there are in that book: cardinals (1 hour, 2 prophets, 3 plagues, 4 winds, 5 kings, 6 wings, 7 churches, 10 days, 12 gates, 24 elders, 42 months, 144 cubits, 1260 days, 144,000 people) and ordinals (from the 1st to the 7th angel) as well as fractions (e.g., ½ day, ⅓ of the ships, ¼ of the earth and a 1/10 of a city)? It’s a struggle to express them when the Nek language has only two cardinal numbers – noŋgan ‘one’ and tɨpet ‘two’ – as well as the adjectives many and few, which can be further modified to be very many or very few, and no ordinal numbers or fractions.

Three is tɨpet gɨt no ‘two and one’ and four tɨpet gɨt tɨpet ‘two and two’. For five we could say kɨt noŋgan ‘one hand’, and for six kɨt tambon, tambon noŋgan ‘one hand and one [of] the other [hand]’ and so on, until we reach ten kɨt tɨpet ‘two hands’. However, that way the terms become rather long, people disagree about the exact forms, and it seems that once we go beyond three, the younger generation can no longer cipher how many we are talking about anyway. So we use numerals to write the cardinal numbers, and people read them using the trade language terms. As for the ordinal numbers, we can talk about the first angel and the last angel, but to refer to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. angel we have to say ‘angel number 2’, ‘angel number 3’, and so forth.

Expressing fractions is a bit harder, and people are not used to them. (Once I asked a prep school teacher how many quarters there are in an hour, and her guess was five!) We do have the word tambon ‘half, part’, so for a tenth we used to say something like this, ‘divide it, and ten parts appear, and one of them’. Now we try to say “one part of the ships were destroyed, and two parts were OK”, but only further testing will show whether the readers will in fact understand that that left no ships unaccounted for.

It is perhaps not surprising that many PNG vernacular languages do not deal with number concepts to the extent that we are used to. The culture is not obsessed with quantifying anything and everything. From birth we are measured in grams and centimetres; we count our years; track our performance through our education; measure our houses in square metres and our vehicles in terms of power or fuel economy. Even our recreation is often measured in calories burned and points scored for and against.

But we find in Revelation something that could never be counted or measured.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages standing before the throne and before the Lamb… crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9

The day whandsill come when all that we now measure won’t count for anything at all.

Please pray…

  • For translators to be thoughtful and creative in presenting God’s truth to the people of PNG.


Equipping the saints …


For two weeks in January, Lae Centre has hosted a workshop for a multi-language translation project. Twenty-nine PNG translators from six language groups worked through various tasks co-ordinated by a Wycliffe team. There are so many positive stories we could share, and here are two that highlight the partnership of the Australian church with what God is doing in PNG.

The Kapin team (above) made good use of an office space renovated by a work-party from our home church in Townsville. They arrived a week early to prepare for the workshop, and quickly laid claim to this spot away from noise and distraction, and with plenty of power outlets for the now essential laptops.

During the workshop, we were able to gift each of the translators stationery packs donated by a Christian School in North Queensland. The items were well received, and the spirit in which they were given was certainly not lost on these saints.

By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others. 2 Corinthians 9:13

 As we serve one another in this way, we grow together in Christ, the gospel advances, and God is glorified! It’s a win, win, win situation.


Please pray…

  • For these brothers and sisters who give of their time to work together towards a translation in their heart language.
  • That God will keep some of the older members in good health, that they may see the work through to the end.

Feeling the impact …


Ring of fire ROCKED: 5.8m earthquake hits Papua New Guinea as scores of shocks recorded

A strong earthquake has rocked Papua New Guinea – putting the Pacific Ring of Fire on red alert after 32 other sizeable quakes hit the region during the last 24 hours.  UK Daily Express, Wed 31 Jan.

We weren’t exactly “rocked” here in Lae, but then I was simply brushing my teeth after a shower at the time, so I may not have been on mental and emotional high alert! The occasional shimmy and shake in our Lae Centre is just part of the difference of living in PNG. It can have a far greater impact on those living in the many coastal villages who have clear memories of the 1998 magnitude 7.0 quake that triggered a tsunami on the north coast near Aitape. The 10-15 metre high wave destroyed a number of villages and killed thousands of people. For those who have not experienced that, or grown up with that as a reality of life, the significance can be totally missed.

There are still aspects of PNG life that we sometimes don’t “get”…… issues involving relationships within families; response to perceived injustices; the “pecking order” within society that everyone just seems to understand and accept. We are students of life in PNG on a daily basis. That can lead to us feeling excluded at times, but it is a part of cross-cultural ministry that we need to work through. Thankfully the locals love to take on the role of teacher, and appreciate that we want to learn from them to understand more fully and to deepen our relationships.

Please pray…

  • That we are able to find time in our busy schedule to observe, and learn, and share.
  • For opportunities to deepen relationships with our PNG friends at work, in church, and within the community.

So … how did you spend this Saturday?

20180120_145814Yandabing, a member of the Kapin translation group, came into our Lae Centre this morning to draft Judges chapter 9. His co-workers have spent the past week working together in preparation for a two-week workshop involving six different language groups. A five-person Wycliffe team provides guidance and direction, with the PNG translators aiming to work through the following tasks.

Kapin… continuing the work of drafting the four Gospels

Laugui Kala… Preparing Mark for consultant checking and adapting Acts from Bukawa. Helping the Kela, Laukanu and Kui-Buso-Lababia dialects to adapt into their way of speaking.

Malei… Revision of Genesis and Exodus and drafting additional Old Testament portions.

Yamap… Adapting the New Testament from Malei and preparing gospels for consultant checking.

Musim… A new team, adapting Mark from the Malei translation.

Patep… Will help a new SIL team to learn their language and read the gospel of Mark together.

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. Proverbs 24:3-4

The workshop is the first group to use our partly renovated Haus Kibung (meeting house). Our intention is for the house to be used for training, planning meetings, and any event which furthers the work of Bible translation here in Papua New Guinea.

Please pray…

  • There is more to do, so pray that our vision for Haus Kibung will be realised and all to God’s glory.
  • That the workshop teams will have the stamina and focus to get through the intended tasks.

Equipped for battle…

Sunday afternoon usually involves listening to a downloaded sermon from one of many sources. We took advantage of Australian internet services during our 2017 furlough and have a library of around 300 messages!
Today we completed a series from Alistair Begg on the Christian’s weaponry noted in Ephesians 6:17-18 [link]

The speaker makes the comment that, “The devil is unafraid of prayer-less proclamation. For preaching, and what happens in a preaching event, is merely the gathering up of results of a battle which has either been simultaneously or previously waged at the rival of prayer.
While our work here in PNG does not involve the regular preaching of the Gospel, we are certainly holding out the word of God through our daily efforts of equipping and supporting Bible translation. All the labours of our hands, and those of our fellow workers, will count for nothing if not surrounded by prayer from ourselves and the supporters back home.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:13-18

Pray that we be fully equipped for the battle, and for the binding of powers and influences that would keep the people of PNG from grasping the great truth of God’s love for them in Christ.

Working together…

Yes… that’s a clam shell baptismal font

Our wantok (person from the same language) Mick – a Queenslander lecturing at the local Lutheran Seminary – invited us to speak to a group of students and staff. The gathering was one of many surrounding their celebration of 500 years since the Reformation, and the fiftieth year of the Martin Luther Seminary. The Lutheran church has a long history in PNG spanning over 130 years, and works together closely with Wycliffe translators in many regions.

Seminary_2We share a committment to the word of God as being central to the Christian life, and the proclamation of that word as essential if people are to come to know Christ as Saviour.

…these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.  John 20:31

IMGP0133Our objective was to encourage church leaders and future Pastors to view Bible translation as a vital part of the church’s ministry. The students responded well, asking several questions about the nature of our work, and several shared their own experiences of having had the Scriptures translated into their tokples (vernacular language).

Some good discussion followed on how the process of translation and tokples literacy can help address some of the cultural issues facing PNG, as language displacement continues to create a generational divide within many communities.

Please pray …

  • praise God for the strong partnerships Wycliffe have with the PNG church
  • pray that tokples translation and literacy programs may add value to relationships within communities, as young and old participate in the task together