Archive for July 2005
The Wuvulu dedication went well and was attended by Papua New Guinea’s prime minister, who helped hand out New Testaments at the end of the dedication. To see the head of government handing out Bibles was quite a thrill, and I wondered how many other places in the world it would be possible. Another highlight was a moving speech by Charlie Benjamin, the open member of parliament for Manus Province. He spoke eloquently of the importance of vernacular Scripture in human development and thanked the translators for their work and sacrifice to make it possible. “I hope you find Christ and make Him your Lord and Savior as I have,” he concluded.
The Scripture-use course (SALT) that followed the dedication was well-attended and seemed to go well overall. The SALT program is a new initiative here, and it is really taking off. The course teaches core biblical truths using outlines, illustrations, and verses from the vernacular New Testament. The idea is to get people introduced to and reading their new Bibles instead of just dropping them off and departing. It was encouraging to see people — from young children to grandparents — reading from their Wuvulu New Testaments and participating in the course in various ways.
Two elderly women, who were probably born before the Gospel came to Wuvulu, study their Bible together.
In the end, 187 people received course-completion certificates, and many more attended at least some of the sessions. For the sake of comparison, the entire population of the island is 1500-2000 people.
SALT course participants of all ages proudly display their certificates and New Testaments after the graduation ceremony.
Living on a tiny Pacific island for nine days was a very interesting and informative experience.
I stayed in a home with the SALT project coordinator, Mick Bandy. Our hosts, Rias and Betty, were very generous and gracious. They spoke Wuvulu almost entirely when speaking among themselves, and they spoke pidgin with us, so sometimes I struggled to figure out what exactly was going on. But it was certainly a good language-learning experience. They introduced us to various island foods, crafts, and pastimes. Ethnically and culturally, the people show ties to Micronesia, making them unique in Papua New Guinea. They are fishermen, gardeners, and wood carvers, among other things. Many have traveled to other parts of the country and know some English. They were happy to help us to explore the extensive and spectacular reef that surrounds the island, taking care to point out sea turtles, sharks, giant clams, stingrays, lionfish, and many other beautiful and fascinating denizens of the underwater world.
“Hello,” she chirped. At two, this beautiful little girl is already learning Wuvulu and Tok Pisin — and apparently a smattering of English too.
An elderly man, his wife, and their son work together on a traditional weapon — now sold as a curiosity to the whiteskins.
We have just over a week left in the country, and there is so much I want to accomplish before we go. I can’t believe the summer is almost over. It will be hard to leave the communications office with so much undone. When we go, Carle will be alone again without anyone to do the many projects that would be so beneficial to the PNG branch.
Thank the Lord for safe travels (despite delays and last-minute changes) and for a good dedication and SALT course. SIL’s planes and pilots do an incredible job here, but sometimes weather and logistics play their tricks on the best-laid plans. Nevertheless, it is evident that the Lord has everything under control.
Please pray that we’ll use time well over the next few days. As I’ve said, there’s a lot to do before we go.
Please pray for me as I talk with people here about what could be next for me.
Please pray for safe travels as we begin to head out and eventually go our separate ways.
Please pray for the Wuvulu people to be transformed by the power of God’s Word. Despite half a century of Christian influence, some people on the island apparently still practice polygamy, polyandry, and black magic, and many others do not appear to understand what being a Christian really means. Pray that God’s Word will illumine and transform their hearts.
Thank you for your prayers and concern during my illness; I recovered fairly quickly under the circumstances. Apparently, I had the same bug that everyone else did; unfortunately, I was out in the village when it struck. But God was good, and my friends were here supportive and very kind.
Last weekend, we drove west through the highlands to attend the East Kewa New Testament dedication, which was a moving and inspiring ceremony.
Work started on the New Testament in 1958, and the book was finally dedicated July 2. Progress had halted for nearly 40 years (about 1965-2003), but God brought together the right people at the right time to get the job done.
Karl Franklin started work among the East Kewas in 1958 and spoke at the New Testament dedication 47 years later.
The East Kewa area is torn by violence and dissipation. During the ceremony, the heartfelt cry of the people was for renewal and transformation by the power of God’s Word.
Tuesday, I interviewed a couple who just finished working on a New Testament in a people group — the Kamula — who had been cannibals until the 1970s. In the early 1970s, a chief named Dekapowe began to believe that there had to be a better way to live. He had heard of white men downstream and decided to go in search of them. The white men, it turned out, were Australian missionaries. In 1974, in response to Dekapowe’s visit, John and Edna Partridge helicoptered into Kamula land and preached the Gospel. In 1990, the Kamula wrote to SIL requesting someone to come translate the Scriptures for them. A family answered the call, and they and their Kamula co-translators completed the New Testament and dedicated it on March 19 of this year. During the celebration, the people performed a victory dance carrying the New Testaments in their hands. Four decades before, the dance had been a celebration of victory in battle, and the people had danced with the heads of their enemies. What a glorious transformation: death is defeated by Life!
I have realized more and more that a New Testament dedication is not an end; it is only a beginning. The people of East Kewa finally have their New Testament, but they desperately need transformation by the power of God. The Kamula have their New Testament, but now they must study it for themselves and learn that their God is stronger than the evil spirits many still fear. As our team leader, David Snyder, said, the people now have their Sword, and the battle can finally begin.
Tonight, two Papua New Guinean translators and their families joined us for dinner. Aluis and Nafian both worked with Wycliffe translators among their own people, and now they have begun working with neighboring people groups to help them translate Scriptures. These men and their families have tremendous stories of salvation and God’s work in their lives. Working as missionaries inside their own country is not easy. They experience overt Satanic attacks, and they face cool receptions by people groups who say they want a white missionary instead. But they know Him whom they have believed, and they are persuaded that His Truth must go forward.
This weekend, we are traveling to Madang, and Tuesday, some of us will leave Ukarumpa for two weeks on Wuvulu Island, where we will attend a New Testament dedication and a one-week Scripture-use course. The trip to Madang is a mini-vacation. The trip to Wuvulu should be really good. It’s supposed to be a beautiful island, and it will be exciting to see what God is doing there. I will return to Ukarumpa July 25, Lord willing.
Please pray for the East Kewa and Kamula peoples, and please pray for the translators we met this evening: Nafian and Aluis. The battle is real, and in some cases it has only just begun.
Please pray for creativity and energy as I continue interviewing, writing, and editing. I’m keeping busy here. The communications department has only one full-time staff member, and he’s a videographer, not a writer. There is more than enough to do. I’m writing stories and reports based on our trips and interviews; I’m working on a couple of publicity brochures; and I’m helping edit other team members’ work. It’s great.
Please pray for me as I consider my future. In a month’s time, I may be making some serious decisions about what’s next.