Posts Tagged ‘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

Breaking all the rules

Friday, October 11th, 2013

After spending so long trying to fit into a new culture, no wonder mission workers find it hard to slide seamlessly back into life in the UK or USA. Catherine’s cultural mismatches have found herself a (social) rule breaker now she’s back in the US from Papua New Guinea:

Then there are the rules for greetings. In PNG [Papua New Guinea], a proper greeting for both men and women is a handshake. In fact, it’s extremely important to shake everyone’s hand when you enter a room or a gathering. However, that’s it. Other than a handshake, men and women rarely have any other physical contact. They often sit separately, eat separately, talk separately… even married PNG couples will often barely acknowledge each other outside their own home. (In fact, I can’t even remember the last time in PNG that I saw a missionary couple offer a public display of affection—it’s rather unheard of!)

So, after living for years within this very segregated set of rules, can you imagine my absolute shock and dismay when I’m greeted with a very traditional Hawaiian HUG AND KISS ON THE CHEEK by a completely unknown young man of a similar age!!? I think a diamond statue would have been more responsive than I was! (At least, thank heavens, I managed to replace my shriek of horror with a stuttered “nice to meet you too!”)

It’s much more than just greetings that are causing headaches – read more on Catherine’s blog.

Sharing God’s word involves sacrifice, even sacrificing being comfortable in our own culture. If you think committing to another culture could be part of what God is calling you to, book into one of our First Steps events to find out more about taking steps into overseas mission.

Art that is ours

Friday, September 20th, 2013

From the songs of the early church to the design of St Paul’s Cathedral, Christians have always been using art to worship God. As the word of God is translated into languages around the world, the work of ethnoartists helps artists to translate the Bible into their local art forms, whether that’s in dance, music or, like Peter below, fine art.

Peter met Nanias, an artist working on the north west coast on Papua New Guinea. Over the next 2 years he grew to know Nanias well and discovered that Nanias is a ‘custodian’ of the Kwoma visual language.

About halfway through 2011 Peter set Nanias the challenge of painting stories from the Bible using traditional designs and images of his clan. The result was a beautiful set of paintings of the Genesis creation account and the beginning of a series on the Life of Christ. Nanias was transformed as he read the Scriptures to accurately translate these stories into the Kwoma visual language.

The Star of Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, and the Magi portrayed in the Kwoma visual language

In April and October 2012 Peter went out with Nanias to his village to document their arts and culture. When the villagers saw the new “Biblical” paintings their enthusiastic response was “These are ours!”

The paintings in their local visual language spoke straight to their hearts, the stories of the Bible were no longer foreign!

Gen 1:14-19. ‘And God created the sun and the moon and the stars…’

This post was written and first published by Wycliffe Australia, and you can read the whole post on their blog.

Bible translation and culturally appropriate art help the Kwoma people understand more about God and more from his word. In nearly 2,000 languages, there is no Bible art, no New Testament, and no work even started. Give God’s Story.

Lean on me

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

Idioms – those ways of speaking that stretch the meanings of words a little and add metaphor into the mix – are key to making language sound natural. And when translators want the Bible to sound natural, getting the idioms right is very, very important.

Mack Graham, a translator working with the Kandawo people, thought that he could perhaps use the English idiom ‘to lean on someone’ to denote ‘trust’. When Mack heard the word for leaning a pole against a house he asked the pastor why he’d never heard anyone use this word from the pulpit denoting ‘trust/lean on Jesus’. It was obvious from his reaction that the pastor had never thought of it before, and he said he didn’t know why they didn’t use the term in that context.

Later, Mack was at another village at election time; candidates were speaking and making promises. The local man who was running for office said that though he didn’t want to, he would have to ‘lean’ on his fellow clansmen. Did he mean that he would ‘trust’ his fellow clansmen? Mack asked someone what the candidate meant by ‘leaning on’ his fellow clansmen; the answer was, ‘He needs their support: money, food, cooking, housing people . . .”’

So the term ‘leaning on’ really meant ‘leeching off’ others. No wonder no one uses this word to denote trusting in Jesus! ‘Leeching off’ Jesus doesn’t make much sense.

But though the term was not useful to denote ‘trust/dependence’, it was useful in 1 Corinthians 11:9 where Paul reminds the Corinthians that he has not been a burden to them and he will continue to not be a burden to them. Read the whole post at the source from partners in Papua New Guinea.

English has lots of idioms that come from the early translations of the Bible into our language, but in nearly 2,000 languages, there has never been a single verse of the Bible translated. Give God’s word.

A day at my desk

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Chad is an IT specialist working in Papua New Guinea. His work helps teams to produce audio and video versions of Scripture. But maybe this visual will give a clearer idea of what his work looks like…

The picture below is from just one moment of one day at Chad’s desk. Multitasking, anyone? He was working on no fewer the six screens – oh, and don’t forget the phone he took the picture with, useful for receiving important emails as well as taking photos. Chad takes us through how some of these screens are part of sharing the Bible:

Chad's desk holds more than 6 different computers that he's working on

On the far left, I am prepping a laptop for a visiting high school intern to be able to scan through scripts of The JESUS Film and Luke Film dubbings to extract Luke 10:25-28 for the editing and eventually sending to the local radio station who will air it in lots of local languages. It’ll teach the student how to read scripts, how to edit and how to post produce audio.

The left big monitor is playing Romans chapter 4, as I’m listening through the file one final time before judging it good to go. (The open Bible is in the Bola language and it’s what I’m proofing against if I hear errors.)

On the far right is the Mac where I’m re-editing the Ura Luke DVD.

You can read more about the other screens on Chad’s blog.

Combining IT and Bible translation leads to more than even Chad’s deskful of work, and there is a constant need for people with IT skills to serve God’s mission in the UK and overseas. Find out more.

Not into IT but looking to go for God’s mission? Chad’s wife Kendal teaches at an elementary school, allowing many mission workers to stay serving overseas. Find out about teaching for mission.

A giant goes home

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

There are hundreds of people around the world involved in Bible translation, but many don’t go by the name ‘missionary’. Many, including national Bible translation workers, literacy teachers and community checkers, aren’t sending newsletters to far-flung countries and don’t get sent home for sabbaticals.

One such was mother-tongue translator Ainde Wainzo, not sent from a major Western mission organisation but a giant in faith and a committed Bible translator. Ainde went home for his rest on August 1.

A Papua New Guinean Bible translator in a course

Ainde Wainzo

A diminutive man, his face framed by grey hair and a full beard, gazed intently at a computer. The screen displayed a Scripture passage in three languages: English, Greek, and his beloved Angaatiha. Ainde smiled as he edited the Angaatiha text, clarifying the meaning and making it easier to understand. Angaatiha was his mother tongue; through this language, the Bible spoke most richly to him.

But on August 1st, Ainde Wainzo left this world and may even now be speaking with his Saviour face-to-face. God graciously released Ainde’s fragile body from the chronic asthma that had plagued him for many years.

Ainde was a gentle, patient man, diligently focused on the Bible translation task. He had worked for over thirty years as a translator on the Angaatiha New Testament. He had celebrated with his language group, located in Morobe Province, when they joyfully dedicated the completed New Testament in 2004. Now, almost 10 years later, he was working even harder to complete the Old Testament.

Ainde’s wife, two sons and a daughter survive him. He will be greatly missed by his family, colleagues, teammates and friends, but they are all rejoicing that he is currently being told “Well done” by his closest friend, Jesus.

This article was first published here.

Find out more about Bible translation and how you can be involved.


Saturday, July 20th, 2013

Residents of Moro village were welcoming new translation workers Paul and Jennie as they arrived at the village. The previous translators were leaving, but thankfully these two were able to help now. But the real praise item wasn’t to come for another 15 years…

The welcome. Buyuwe’s in green.

As the regional director challenged the people to support Paul and Jennie as they had supported the previous translators, one of the older men stepped forward. Buyuwe, a small man barely over four feet tall, said with a strong voice, ‘We brought food for the other family, we brought firewood for them, and we have taught them our language. Now they are gone and a new family has come. We will bring food and firewood for this family, too, and teach them our language. But, I am afraid . . . I am afraid that I will not see God’s word in my language before I die.

These words stuck with Paul for years, often serving as motivation during tough times.

Fifteen years later, Paul has brought the proofs of the completed New Testament to another village for a final read-through. This will be the last step in the process before sending it off to be printed. When people from Moro came for their turn at reading, Paul recognised Buyuwe and called him over. He said, ‘Buyuwe, do you remember what you said to me when I first arrived?’

With expectant eyes, Buyuwe watched as Paul handed him the entire stack of more than seven hundred pages. Paul exclaimed, ‘Here. Here is your entire New Testament, God’s word in your language… and it is in your hands before you die!’ With great joy and loud laughter, Buyuwe grabbed Paul’s hand and shook it strongly. In fact, he would not let it go and for several minutes he continued to shake Paul’s hand, his laughter resonating throughout the area.

God’s word had come to this language.

Account by Tim Scott. Read more about Bible translation in Papua New Guinea on

Find out about the ways you could be involved in getting God’s word into people’s hands.

‘Greetings from Mars’ or what to do when your missionary comes home

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Summer is often the time when we find more mission workers appearing back at their home churches, armed with presentations and wearing slightly odd clothes. But what should we do with them? Catherine, who has been serving in Papua New Guinea, has some helpful suggestions:

They may not actually be from another solar system – but I know what you’re thinking. They might as well be. Random country names with more syllables and sounds at the back of your throat than you thought possible, displays in the church foyer with giant bugs and pictures of huts made from grass, a missionary at the podium dressed in a long jean skirt, sandals (AND socks!), who uses some expressions that aren’t quite right when clicking through the 800th slide of half-dressed children.

And, you better make sure you brought your Bible into church when it’s Missionary Sunday, because I swear I glimpsed a set of angel wings hidden beneath her hair that hasn’t been cut in 10 years…

A Martian indeed!

But, I’m here to tell you – never fear! You won’t need to pull out your Star Wars Jedi tricks to understand your home-coming missionary. Here are 10 things that you can do to help your missionaries (including me!) out when they come back to their home country…

Read Catherine’s list of 10 (really easy) things you can do, from ‘being informed’ to ‘ask the right questions’. Catherine shares openly in her post about how it feels to ‘re-enter’ from the Martian’s perspective!

If you are interested in supporting a specific mission worker serving Bibleless people around the world, we’d like to introduce you to some smashing folk who are looking for more people on their team.

Photo: Catherine Rivard