Saturday, September 13, 2014

Translating in Papua New Guinea

Well, it looks like the Lord is leading me to serve Wycliffe in Papua New Guinea. My assignment hasn't been confirmed yet, but I am praying that it will be soon!

Here is a soul-convicting story about the great needs of translation in this island nation written by a translator serving in Papua New Guinea.

"I was standing in the middle of a big logging camp upriver from our village home in Papua New Guinea (PNG). My bare feet had long since disappeared in boots of wet sticky clay. On one side of me stood Adau,the leader of the translation team we work with. On the other side was an old man from a village near the camp. I also had two American college students with me. They had come to PNG for a month to get a taste of mission life.

"It was clear that the old man wanted to talk to me about something very important. After finding a language they both knew, Adau began to translate the old man’s message. He said, 'I know that you live downriver there to help those people translate the Bible into their language. And I have heard that another couple lives way up by the headwaters of our river, and is helping those people up there to translate the Bible into their language. But here in our place, we want the Bible too, and we don’t have anyone to help us do it. Can you tell your bosses to send someone to help us too?'

"Before I replied, I turned to the two American college students. 'Come closer and listen to what I am going to have to tell this old man,' I said. 'I want you to remember this conversation, and when you get back home tell the people in your church what you’ve heard.'

"As they moved closer, I started to answer him, but I couldn’t help but hang my head as I did so. 'You know there are many, many languages in Papua New Guinea,' I said. 'And to translate the Bible into just one language takes many years of work. We would really like to send someone to help your people translate the Bible too. But we don’t have extra people available. Very few people are coming to Papua New Guinea to help in translation now, and those few have to be shared out—not just in this province, but among all of the other provinces too. So I will tell my bosses about your request, but at this time we don’t have enough workers to be able to send someone to your people.'

"The old man was obviously not satisfied with my answer—who would be?! Perhaps he couldn’t understand why God would talk to others but not to his people. What would you have said to the old man if he had asked you? Maybe, indirectly, he is asking you. He was appealing to the wider Church to help give them access to God’s Word. What will your response be?"

-Published originally in InFocus Vol.14 No. 2

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