Posts Tagged ‘Papua New Guinea’

Bible translation needs managers

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Let’s break a preconception: Bibles aren’t translated by just one very dedicated man with a quill. They probably never have been (even Luther had a team!) and now, more than ever, Bible translation is tackled as a team.

But it’s better than most team projects: in this project, the result is only the beginning, as God’s word bears fruit in the lives of those who hear and read it. In this project, we have the ultimate team leader, Jesus, the Head of the Body. And in this project, whatever your skills, there’s something you can do.

This video from our partners in Papua New Guinea explains about their need for one of those invaluable, but oft forgotten roles: managers.

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Whether it’s for three months or three decades, in Papua New Guinea or in Paraguay, there’s a way you can play a part. If you are interested in seeing how you could serve overseas in Bible translation, these are your three next steps:

  1. Get a glimpse into some of the different roles on the Wycliffe website.
  2. Plan to join us at the October Next Step event with other people looking to change their lives to serve God.
  3. Chat to someone from the Wycliffe offices about what you could do.

Stronger than the spirits?

Monday, July 14th, 2014

When the Årsjö’s first arrived to work with the Ama people, there were no Christians. That fact didn’t change for the first six years they worked there. In the seventh, the first person – one of the men working with them on the translation – chose to believe in Jesus.

The Ninigo Islands, Papua New Guinea

The Ninigo Islands, Papua New Guinea

As the message spread and more people started to follow Jesus, there was one big issue that needed addressing: spirits.

Sören and Britten Årsjö looked in amazement at the young woman lying on their porch, as Albert, one of Ama translators, pleaded with them. “Please, you must do something!”

In traditional Papua New Guinean beliefs, the practice of sorcery and fear of the spirits govern daily life. In Ama, the word, popuwa, meant “evil spirit;” there was no such thing as a “good spirit.” A cursed person was doomed to die within three days—and if he or she told anyone, death would be immediate.

So, when Albert’s cousin courageously told him she’d been cursed, he acted immediately. They all gathered around the girl and began praying fervently, as well as administered antibiotics to help counteract any potential infection caused by the custom of inserting bone fragments into the sorcery victim’s body. They waited and prayed and waited, the whole village watching. Would she die? Or would this God be more powerful than sorcery and spirits?

Find out what happened to the girl and to the Ama community on Catherine’s blog.

We believe God can transform lives and communities, and sharing his word is a fantastic way to introduce people to him. Agree? We’re looking for people to support Bible translation through prayer, giving, advocating in churches and going to serve.

What a start!

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

The day began with sunshine, but by midday, the rain was pouring down on the Nukna people gathered. It didn’t put a dampener on their celebrations. They were launching the books of Ruth and Mark – the first Scripture in the Nukna people:

Excitement filled the air as crowds gathered from all over the Nukna language area. Palm branches and flowers decorated the grounds, and the beat of drums filled the air. Young men dressed in traditional sing-sing attire danced and sang out in the local language, “God’s Word has come to us! God’s Word has come to us! Let’s welcome it and find true life!”

Photo: Tim Scott

After a big celebration, there is always a risk that the word will be forgotten, or that new books will only sit ceremonially on shelves. Not so with these Nukna books. Already, church leaders are using the new books and the community is making plans for more translation.

In the village church service the following Sunday, instead of reading that morning’s text in the pidgin, their second language, the leaders read God’s word in Nukna. The reading in their heart language communicated God’s message to them much more clearly than the second language had.

In the weeks following the dedication, the villagers were eager to participate in the continuing translation work, as linguist Matt Taylor tested and revised the book of Luke. Volunteers gathered on the grass beside the church or in the translation officer to listen and offer suggestions on how to make the words flow like natural Nukna talk. At times there were more than forty people participating in these ‘village checks’!

Mark and Ruth are just the start for this community – but what a start! Bible translation can take a long time and even before these books could be launched, a lot of work has gone on. But now, church leaders can teach people God’s word in their own language; parents can read Bible stories to their children; musicians can write songs based on the word of God. What a start! Read the full article on The PNG Experience blog.

Join in supporting Bible translation around the world.

When sorrows like sea billows roll

Monday, June 16th, 2014

If you regularly sing with other Christians, you probably have a favourite hymn or song. You’ll know it because its the one song that you always sing with audible abandon, which brings you to your knees or leaves you in floods of tears. Mine (confession time!) is ‘It is well with my soul’. If you didn’t love it before, I think that this story of a Papua New Guinean community singing it in celebration will bring it close to your heart.

Emotions ran strong as the choir sang “Masina, Masina…” at the Mussau hymnal dedication. Masina means “Thank you,” “that’s great” and is even used as a greeting in the Mussau language. But as the choir sang, it meant only one thing: “It is well, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

On this day, these precious words had special meaning to the Mussau people. In February, John and Marjo Brownie were travelling from Mussau to Emirau Island with Leslie their co-translator and three others when the boat hit an unusually rough wave, immediately capsizing their small craft. The boat sank in seconds, setting all six adrift. John and Leslie became separated from Marjo, the boat captain and the other two men. They all drifted with the current but miraculously came ashore on Emirau’s western shore, John and Leslie arriving just before dark. If they had missed the island, the next land would have been Nauru, over 600 miles away. When the boat capsized, John’s computer and all the recent translation work went overboard.

The day before the hymnbook dedication, John and Marjo visited Emirau Island for the first time since the boating accident. They were tearfully greeted by the Emirau people who presented the Brownies with some of their belongings that had washed ashore, several days after the accident. When John opened a case that contained the computer with all the recent translation work, everyone cheered! Many people around the world had been praying that this work would be recovered.

Hundreds of people came the next day to the hymnbook dedication… As they listened to the choir sing Masina, it was hard not be filled with grateful emotions. Many amazing things had happened that not only preserved everyone’s lives but also saved the Words of Life that had been lost at sea. Now these wonderful words were being sung in the heart language of the people.

Those tears of joy when we sing to God come because we can sing from our hearts to God’s heart in our own language. But millions still sing to God in someone else’s language, because church isn’t done in theirs. It’s one of the many beautiful changes that Bible translation can bring. Support Bible translation.

The story and the photograph are from Tim Scott, posting about Bible translation in Papua New Guinea at Read the full story.

Part-time translation

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Many translators who are working on God’s word in their own language work part-time. Why, with so much to do and such an important work, would Bible translators choose to spend time away from translation?

In this video (from Wycliffe USA‘s summer campaign) translators and a translation advisor explain why they come to do translation for five months a year, and return to work in their communities – farming, building houses and canoes, business – for the rest of the year. They show that the time with their families and communities is vital work for their Bible translations.

‘I leave good work and come to do God’s work.’ A Papua New Guinean translator

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In these communities, the reputation of the translator and the translation are tied closely together, just like our words to neighbours about Jesus is affected if we kept them up all night with loud music or helped to take their bins out.

Supporting Wycliffe can help provide for these hard-working translators and their families, and frees up time for them to serve their communities. Give towards Bible translation.

What’s it like to be a missionary teacher?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Bob Noble teaches computing and maths to students at a mission school in Papua New Guinea. In some ways, it’s just the same as teaching in the UK: there is still a curriculum and the marking still tends to pile up! But a field trip he took his students on recently shows just how different it can be…

It was no trip to the local museum. Bob and 10 of his students, along with three other adults, travelled to Sikor village, to meet local school pupils and get a glimpse of the local Bible translation project. Travel with the class through the photos:

The journey through the mountains took them past beautiful scenery and required four-by-fours and a whole day’s travel.

The journey wasn’t quite done when the driving finished: reaching the ladies’ host’s home involved crossing a stream using a log bridge.

Clipboard02  Clipboard08
A big part of the trip was spending time with other pupils, those at the local elementary, primary and secondary schools. Bob’s students sang songs, performed dramas and presented the gospel … with a football!

The students shared skills, Bob’s class challenging their new friends to games of basketball (six of the students are on the undefeated A team at school!). In turn, they were shown the best way to climb a palm for coconuts and how to break one open to get the water.

edited for blog
All in all, not your average day in the classroom!

Teachers and school administrators are needed to support Bible translation and development all over the world. If you’ve got teaching talents, have a look at the vacancies that we are looking to fill and get in touch to find out more.

Pushing planes

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Pushing a helicopter? It’s probably not the most efficient way to move one but time was short…

“There are not too many opportunities to see all the aircraft at home at the same time so, ‘quick… take a picture!’” says Tim Scott, working in Papua New Guinea:

“It’s good that they are not sitting around too much! The more they fly, the more language development and Bible translation is occurring. These aircraft fly translators, linguists and other language workers to remote areas, coffee to market, sick and injured to medical centres.

“They also fly pastors, community development workers along with educators and government workers to places in need throughout Papua New Guinea. Whenever they are in the air, no matter who and where they are flying, they are supporting this important work.”

Worth the effort for a great snap!

Bible translation takes the work of all sorts of people – translators and pilots, cooks and photographers. And the work makes a difference in surprising ways, like pilots flying coffee to market in Papua New Guinea (read this for more about the connection between coffee and Bible translation). Whatever your skills, they could be just the fit for Bible translation.

Read more from the team in Papua New Guinea.

Do you translate the Old Testament too?

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

A lot of translations start off with the shorter projects. They translate Jonah or Luke, maybe combining the translation of Luke with an audio recording and dubbing the JESUS Film into their language. ‘Shorter projects’, yes, but they still take four or five years.

Photo: Tim Scott at

It’s why it’s not surprising that it’s a big step for a translation team to move on to a New Testament. New technology and ways of working can often speed up a New Testament translation, but it’s still not unusual to hear of New Testaments taking 20+ years! You can understand why, given the size of the undertaking, we don’t hear as much about Old Testaments.

Max and Johnny, Papua New Guineans who speak Wuvulu, attended a five-week course to prepare them to translate the Old Testament. Why?

Max Benjamin helped translate the Wuvulu New Testament for his people… He hoped that he could one day also help translate the Old Testament. When his co-translator, James Hafford, sent him a text message to asking if he would like to attend an upcoming course on the Old Testament, Max didn’t hesitate, “Yes! This is what I’ve been dreaming of!”

When Max travelled to the course at the Ukarumpa Training Center, he brought along another Wuvulu man, Johnny Namor, who also wants to help translate the Old Testament for his people. Johnny explained, “When a passage in the New Testament refers back to the Old Testament, sometimes the meaning isn’t clear. We need to know the background so we can better understand the teachings in the New Testament.” Read the full story here.

As mother-tongue English speakers, we are blessed to have the whole Bible. We’ve had it for 400 years. We have hundreds of versions. But many people don’t know about God’s creation, miracles, merciful character and promises, because they don’t have the Bible – any of it – in the language they know best. Do something to help.

Are you being called?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

‘We’re ready to go where we are needed most.’ For Wycliffe workers Joe and Heather, going where most needed has taken them a long way from the course they had anticipated:

Joe and Heather in Madang

Joe and Heather in Madang

The couple served in Papua New Guinea from 1980-2007 as office equipment technician/trainer and national translation training administrator… When their third son had completed high school and was ready to start university, they returned to England to work at the Wycliffe centre there. Some people thought they would spend the rest of their days in England.

But in 2013, God made it clear that they should prepare to return to Papua New Guinea to serve as regional centre managers. Once again they said, ‘We’re ready to go where we are needed most.’ They already knew the language and culture, and had friends all over the country – it seemed a perfect fit for them to return to fill this need.

The role of the regional centre manager includes booking transient housing, cooking meals, finding supplies as needed and sending them out, managing finances, making repairs, and being flexible to meet whatever need arises. Their role as support workers helps the translators to concentrate on their language work in the village. Read more on The PNG Experience blog.

Many people might have thought that Joe and Heather were done with their overseas missionary service after 27 years, or might never have thought of being a centre manager as the job of a missionary. If you have been called to serve God in mission, don’t let your expectations stop you from obeying.

If you want to explore the many options to be involved in mission, our four-day event The Next Step is a great place to start. The next event is in Oxford from 21–23 March. Find out more.

Our precious gift: the translated Bible

Friday, December 13th, 2013

This month, a group of mother-tongue translators in Papua New Guinea have been studying Greek to aid their translation. It begs the question: why translate at all? Why not teach everybody Greek and Hebrew?

Photo: Elyse PattenMary Frank, who works for United Bible Societies and is also a German-English translator, writes this:

“If only I could read this in the original Greek/Hebrew!” That’s a heartfelt desire that I’ve heard expressed many times in Bible study groups when we’re tackling a particularly tricky passage.

I’ve translated a wide range of materials (although not the Bible itself) over the years, but it’s only recently that I’ve really studied Translation Theory in depth. My view of translation has really changed! Like the people in my Bible study groups, I used to think that a translated text was a ‘poor relation’, a weaker version of the original. Studying the theory behind translation has given me the confidence to think differently. Now I think that we should see a translated text as a valid and authoritative work in its own right. We shouldn’t expect it to be a direct ‘equivalent’. We shouldn’t diminish it by imagining that the text in its original language would somehow be easier to understand. Probably it wouldn’t be!

We should not feel that we are being denied or misled when we read the Bible in translation…. And let’s remember what Bible translation achieves. After all, it is only thanks to translation that God’s word has reached millions of people around the world. And it will only be through translation that more people will be reached with God’s word in the future. Let’s remember that the Bible in our language is a precious gift made possible by translation.

This is an edited version of what Mary wrote over on the UBS blog – read the full article here.

In partnership with UBS, other Bible translation organisations and Christians around the world, Wycliffe is seeing the Bible translated for hundreds and thousands of people. Join the Bible translation team!

Photo: Elyse Patten