My Heart Is In Papua New Guinea

God has blessed me to be able to be involved in mission work across the world.  But there is no question that the greatest joy I have had were the five years of ministry that I and my family experienced while living in a remote village of Papua New Guinea.  It is a great blessing that God continues to allow me to go back to PNG each year to do consultant checking work on the translation of God’s Word into the vernacular languages of PNG.

One of the greatest challenges there has been the fact that it takes so many years for an outside missionary to learn the language and the culture of the people group that he/she is working with.  The best solution is to work with the national men and women to empower them to do the work.  They already know the language and the culture.  All they need is some training and the resources to do the job of Bible translation.

Once the nationals have the training and the resources, then I believe we will see amazing amounts of both quantity and quality of translated Scripture portions and New Testaments.  Below are two stories of what has been happening recently in PNG as members of our mission, Pioneer Bible Translators, partner together with nationals to get this work done.  Please keep the people of PNG in your prayers.

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Teachable Moments

As my husband Mike and two national translators combed through a consultant’s notes on their draft of Matthew’s Gospel, he noticed that in several places the Biblical term “miracle” was translated into a word that he thought meant “sorcery.” Wanting to be certain, he asked the translators to explain the term. The discussion that ensued was a stark reminder of the world in which they live, a world dominated by spiritual forces and the people’s attempts to harness and control them. In such a world it is easy to see Jesus as nothing more than a powerful sorcerer who used His power primarily for good purposes.

That night we prayed for a way to talk about this delicate subject. The next day, Mike gently, yet clearly, explained to our friends that in Scripture “miracles” and “sorcery” are different. He specifically showed them a number of places in the book of Acts – one of two books they already have in their own language – where miracles and sorcery were shown to be very different.

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He also showed them that God actually forbids His people to practice sorcery. He is a jealous God, and sorcery is a pursuit of other gods. We continued to pray, and in the days that followed it was apparent that they had grasped not only the truth that Mike shared from God’s Word, but also the implications in their own lives and the necessity of choosing whom they will serve in the future.

Bible translators pray for teachable moments like this – for those conversations when God’s Word clearly and unmistakably confronts core cultural beliefs and practices that are in opposition to God’s will. The goal of Pioneer Bible Translators is “transformed lives through God’s Word in every language.” These transformations often begin in the lives of the men and women who encounter the Word intimately as they grapple with how best to translate it into their own language.

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A Work in Progress

“Can I come back to town in a month and finish up my computer work on Acts?” asked a Papua New Guinean who is translating God’s Word into his own language. I looked at the calendar of current bookings, shook my head and said, “No, there won’t be any space for about four months. I’m sorry.”

This man, and several dozen other men like him, are key partners in our work of translating God’s Word for people groups here in Papua New Guinea. Without them, the work God has given us to do will never be finished. Yet multiple times I have had to tell them that though they are eager to work, they cannot, because there just is “no room in the inn” here in Madang.

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For years, it has been the dream of Pioneer Bible Translators in Papua New Guinea to build suitable housing and additional work space for our national co‐workers when they come in to Madang. The work that they do in town cannot be done in their village homes, where they have no access to computers, electricity, advisors, and other resources.

Additionally, as a translation team begins the last few years of checking and revising a New Testament to make certain it is ready to be published, the men often need to spend extended blocks of time in town –long enough that we would like them to be able to have their wives with them.

Our team here has recently devoted time to prayerfully seeking the Lord’s direction about moving forward with long‐standing plans to construct a building that will address current needs and accommodate a new wave of growth in PBT’s ministry. The planned two‐story building provides:

  • 10 sleeping rooms, each accommodating two people
  • 2 efficiency apartments to accommodate couples
  • Kitchen
  • Dining hall that will also serve as a work room and classroom

Through prayer, God led us to step out in faith and we began construction in May, 2011. We are asking God to provide the total amount of $276,300 to complete the building, and we are asking people to prayerfully consider being a part of that provision.

(Thank you for reading this article and for your interest in what Pioneer Bible Translators is doing in ministry for the Bible-less people groups in PNG. If after reading this article and having prayerfully considered how you might respond to this need, if you want to get involved financially, reply with a Comment which no one will read except myself as the editor of this site.)

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