When confronted with the task of starting almost 300 language projects in Papua New Guinea, it might cause you to think, "Why not just teach everyone the same language?" Language and culture tie together. The unique beauty of each culture is expressed best by the indigenous language. Perhaps the best way to think about it is to marvel at the creative beauty in nature. How would you choose just one butterfly? Translating languages are essential to preserving the beauty of the cultures they reside in. Scriptures that are translated in the heart language of the people become clear and understanding is enhanced when seen through their cultural lens. Pray that the untranslated Scriptures of Papua New Guinea would have a project started even this year!
I have some thoughts to add to the post from the PNG Experience blog. As I speak to people about the need for Bible translation, I receive this question a lot: "Why don't you teach the people English?" Well, there's several negative things this statement implies, such as that English is superior than the people's language that needs to be translated, and that God only speaks English.
The gospel itself is an act of translation! Christ translated himself into humanity: he took on our looks, our limitations, and our words. The essence of the gospel is that we can't act or be anything special to earn it-it's a free gift. So, people shouldn't have to be anything different or do anything different to receive the Scriptures in their own language. It's a free gift.
When we translate the Scriptures into a person's heart language, we are telling them, "You matter. God loves you just as you are. In fact, He speaks your language!"