Many of my articles will talk about the 5 years that our family spent in a small remote village of Papua New Guinea (1997 – 2002) as these stand out as some of the best years we’ve had in our years of mission experience.  I have not said much yet about our older boy, Eric, and the battle he had with leukemia (he is doing okay today, praise God).  One consequence of Eric’s cancer was the need for our family to evacuate PNG to Australia, and then to Canada.  None of us have been back to our village in the jungle.

It was with great interest then, that I heard about the visit the summer interns for our mission would make to our village as part of their experience of PNG in 2009.  When I talked with them, they told me about their plans to share the Gospel by means of a digital recording.  I was so excited to hear of these plans.  Read the story from Delaina, one of the interns, and share in this wonderful experience.

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“The Proclaimer”

The day after our meeting with the 4 translators, Lindy and I took our laundry down to the shallow river to wash the clothes. (No electricity in the village means no washing machines.) We waded barefoot into the cool flowing water, filled up a large bowl, and added some powdered laundry detergent. After scrubbing each garment by hand, we would rinse it in the river, squeeze out the extra water, and put it in a net bag called a bilum that was hanging from a tree branch nearby. Later we would have to carry all the clothes back to the house and hang them on the line to dry. We could see that it was going to take most of the morning to wash all of the clothes, so we wanted something to do while we worked. Lindy walked along the path by the airstrip back to the house and brought the Proclaimer to where I was at the river.

What is a Proclaimer you ask? It is basically a big MP3 player, but instead of music, it has a recording on it of people reading the entire New Testament in Tok Pisin, the trade language of PNG. I suggested that we listen to the recording of 1 Peter, so Lindy and I continued scrubbing dirty clothes, but now we were hearing something that sounded a lot like this, “Mi Pita, mi aposel bilong Jisas Krais. Mi raitim dispela pas long yupela ol manmeri bilong God, yupela ol lain i stap nabaut olsem tripman long provins Pontus, Galesia, Kapadosia, Asia, na Bitinia.”

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Now Daniel, one of the national translators, lived right across the river in his village hut. His wife heard this voice coming from the Proclaimer and sat down on the bank to hear 1 Peter. After all 5 chapters had been read, she thanked us for letting her listen in, and she told us, “This talk is shooting my stomach,” which is their expression for saying, “What I heard really touched my heart.” We had brought the Proclaimer to the river to entertain ourselves while doing laundry and help us learn Tok Pisin, but God used His word to speak to that woman’s heart.

The story doesn’t end there. At 7:00 the next morning, I was working on getting breakfast for the team. I had just hauled 2 buckets of water up the stairs from the rain tank outside to use for cooking and washing dishes when I heard a cough coming from the front yard. I looked out and saw Daniel standing there waiting to talk to us. I had to wake Lindy up, and she went to see what Daniel wanted. We were amazed by his request. He said, “Can you bring the Proclaimer and come with me? There is a group of people waiting right now to hear 1 Peter before they go work in their gardens for the day.” Apparently Daniel’s wife had told her friends and relatives that they needed to hear what she had heard the day before.

We grabbed the Proclaimer and followed Daniel across the river to a cluster of huts where about 20 people were waiting. These people sat still and listened to all of 1 Peter and half of 1 Corinthians. That’s 12 chapters of the Bible! God was speaking to them through His Word, and again many people said, “This talk is shooting our stomachs!”

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Several times over the next week, groups of people from this village and even surrounding villages met outside our house to listen to the Bible on the Proclaimer. There was a group of over 70 people who came one day. That was almost the entire village! The last day we were there, a group of people sat for 3 solid hours listening to book after book of the New Testament, beginning with 1 Peter. They only left then because the Proclaimer shut itself off from lack of solar power.

And these are people who used to murder other people for money, who are still involved in witchcraft, and who don’t all get along with each other. But they came together to hear God’s Word because God was working in their hearts. We serve a powerful God, and if He can change the hearts of these tribal people in Papua New Guinea, He can do anything.

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As a footnote, let me say this.  It is wonderful to hear how excited the people were to hear Scripture in Tok Pisin, the trade language.  But this is a second language that they learn as they grow up.  Try to imagine the pure joy in their hearts (or in their stomachs) that they would experience when they hear the Word of God spoken in their mother-tongue language.  I’ve seen that joy, and that is why I am a Bible translator still to this day.