Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar December 2018 – January 2019. Thank you for your continued prayers for the people of Papua New Guinea. They truly make a difference.
Sometimes you have looked at something so many times or heard the same story over and over and it seems all too familiar. Oh, for eyes to see something new and a heart that is open to what God has to show you.
Recently Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) workshops began for a new cluster of languages in the North Palei district, near Nuku, north of the Sepik highway. Six language groups arrived in Wewak ready to learn what OBS was all about. Trainers had carefully picked the stories for this first course. Their desire was to give participants stories that wouldn’t be too challenging to learn and yet would also give them a good foundation to some of God’s talk. They also wanted to do a couple Christmas stories as this would be the first time these groups would have some of God’s Word in their language at Christmas.
One of the Christmas stories picked was the Shepherds and the Angels. A story familiar to most, but many of the participants saw it in a whole new way. After the story was told during devotions, the group grappled with application questions so they could interact with the story on a heart level. This is often the time where new insights are shared and eyes are opened.
When referring to Jesus coming to the earth and being placed in a manger (something dirty and lowly), one man said: “That is just like in my life. My life is like the manger (a place that was dirty and no good), and now Jesus has come into my life and changed me.”
Another man, as he grappled with who Jesus really is, said: “I can no longer worship anyone else. I can only worship Jesus.”
As you come into the Christmas season, where things might have become too familiar, take some time to look at things in a new way. Read them and hear them like it is your first time and see if God won’t speak new truth into your heart as well.
The third Oral Bible Translation workshop took place in Wewak for Bungain, Juwal, and Urimo language participants in August. As it was the third workshop, the participants were keen to put into practice the things they had learned in the previous workshops. Nearly all the stories for this workshop were taken from the Old Testament. For those participants who had already completed Oral Bible Storytelling workshops, many of these passages had already been learned in story form. As a result, they were able to finish more stories than in previous workshops because they had already learned the foundation of these passages.
The number of passages each group has translated has grown significantly over the course of the past year. We are thankful for all of the completed recordings and look forward to how they will be distributed in the future. The area of distribution is still in process. What is the best way to share the recordings in each of these language groups? Could it be different for some of the language groups? Could it look different for different generations of listeners? The SPES team looks forward to growing in knowledge in the coming months as they assess the various situations and seeks to find sustainable ways to help the communities more easily access the recorded scriptures.
The advisors also grew in their knowledge and abilities. All of our advisors have been trainers for storytelling workshops before, but they only began using computers when the translation workshops started last November. Through some extra training and time “trying out” the computers, they have grown in confidence that they can help others learn to use the computers. They continue to learn new translation principles and are excited to put them into practice with future courses.
Community checkers come and listen to the translated stories to see if they are clear and natural and convey the meaning of the passage. The checkers who have been at all three courses have grown in their understanding of their job, as well as in their ability to give useful feedback. Giving constructive feedback is not something that comes naturally, but they learned this skill so they could better the translation work.
Sometimes roles within a team change. At this workshop, we had a couple of changes that needed to take place. We had one new back translator, whose job it is to take the translated text and translate it back into a common language so that it can be consultant checked for accuracy. Back translating can be difficult to learn, but Patrick came and understood well the task at hand. He was able to learn how to work the computer and do the back translation and was a big asset to his team.
We are thankful for eager learners who come expecting to learn and who want to find ways to use what they have learned in the future. May God’s Word continue to go out as these recordings are shared in communities.
It was with great anticipation on Monday, November 20, that the SPES team waited for participants to arrive for the first Oral Bible Translation workshop in Wewak. There were many moments in the last several months when the team didn’t think this time would come. After many prayers, project proposals written, emails, project proposals rewritten, and a flurry of last minute activities, the workshop is moving forward for the Bungain, Juwal, and Urimo language communities.
With new people joining some of the participants from earlier Oral Bible Storytelling workshops, these teams will learn some new concepts and then begin to put those ideas into practice. Using computer software specifically developed for oral translation, these groups will listen to scripture passages and begin to take the text, paragraph by paragraph, and translate it into a natural and understandable format that their communities can understand clearly. After it is reviewed for accuracy by other community members, it is given to a consultant who will again go through the whole passage to make sure things have been translated correctly.
We are so thankful for the team who have worked hard to make this come together. The SPES team has written and revised the project proposal multiple times so that it meets the necessary criteria. They have visited language groups to invite the needed personnel to come to the course. A myriad of logistics including arranging transportation, food, accommodation, and personnel, have all gone into the process.
We have three consultant checkers who have agreed to help with this project of three workshops – one who has worked in various countries recently, but has significant experience in the Sepik in the past, another who is a current translator in the Sepik, and the third is a Papua New Guinean from another province who wants to help. As we have not had courses that have utilized computers before, someone has agreed to come just to help make sure the computers and related equipment run well and take care of bugs issues that come up along the way.
Most of the facilitators who will be working with the individual language groups are from the Sepik and have been working with SPES in other training capacities. Three ladies will be sharing the duties for making sure this group is well fed. They are excited to try out some new menus this time.
If we look further, the team grows even more. There are those who help make sure the project is written correctly and that all guidelines are followed. These folks are not on location in PNG. Then there are those who make sure the money is available and get it to where it is needed. The team of computer programmers who have written the Render software that can now be used are a vital part of making this workshop a reality.
Last, but integral to the workshop, there is a large team of people who are praying that projects like this can move forward around the world. We thank God for each part of the team that helps to get God’s Word to the people of the Sepik.
Often when we pray, we do so expecting that God will answer quickly and in the way that we desire. Well, reality tells us that this scenario is not always the way things play out.
Leading up to and at the recent Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) workshop in Wewak, many prayers were offered for a variety of subjects. These prayers included getting the participants to and from the course safely and in a timely manner, good opportunities for the participants to learn the stories well, health and safety for those involved with the course as well as for family members who stayed behind in the villages, and a myriad of other things.
For one of the participants who was planning to attend the course, his wife and son were killed in a car accident just before the course began. We want people to be able to come and learn more of God’s Word, but this man was not able to come as he had many family issues that needed his attention.
For reasons we don’t fully know, transportation is a challenge for this particular group of language communities. At the beginning of this course, we didn’t even know if everyone would get to Wewak for the course. Through more prayer and a lot of communication with different drivers, trucks, and participants, they did arrive in Wewak, even though a few were a bit late.
As the time approached for the workshop to be completed, transportation again looked like it could be difficult. More prayers. Multiple attempts to contact drivers and trucks didn’t seem to give a solid workable plan. Things happen, but sometimes that can bring more stress.
Thursday morning arrived and there was one truck which could take half of the participants home. But, what about the other half? After a trip to town to contact drivers, there was still not a confirmed solution. It was getting getting later in the day. What to do? Prayers continued for a workable solution. One of the SPES team members walked out of the office to talk to those who remained about what the next plan should be, possibly to leave the next day. At that moment, a truck drove in and was ready to take the rest of the group home. God heard our cries! Thank you, Lord.
The participants did work diligently to learn several Christmas related stories that they are now able to take back and share in their villages. Some of these people seem to face some roadblocks when they take the Bible stories back to share. Please pray earnestly that God’s Word could break through the roadblocks and that these stories would have great impact in their communities.
Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar August – September 2017. Thanks for praying with us for the people of Papua New Guinea.
Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar June 2017 – July 2017. Thank you for praying with us for the people of Papua New Guinea.
Eleven Nuku area language groups continue to learn four Bible stories during this two week Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) course in Wewak. Yesterday they began learning the story of The Fall from Genesis 3. As they listened during the devotion time, they grappled with various parts of the story. Some of their personal beliefs that have been held for many years did not line up with the truth they were hearing from God’s Word. How do they move forward and reconcile those differences in their own lives?
Wednesday the same story was told to give them a chance to hear it again and process what was being shared. After the story is given, questions are asked so that the participants can interact with the story on a personal level. Wednesday’s questions focused on what the participants learned in the story and which character were they like in the story. As many honest responses were shared, it was evident that God’s Word was alive and giving people reason to think about their own lives.
“I am like Eve because I listen to others when they tell things that aren’t true and then I follow after those same things.”
“I am like the snake because I tell others things that aren’t true and cause them to do things that aren’t right.”
“I am like Adam. I go along and do the wrong things even though I know they are wrong. I don’t stand up for what is right.”
“I am like Eve because I covet so many things.”
“Now that I have come to this course and know what is true, I need to stand on that truth. When other people come and tell me things that aren’t true and try to pull me in the wrong direction, I don’t want to follow them.”
“I need to not deceive other people. I need to leave those ways behind, and do what is right.”
“I need to stand up and take responsibility in my family. If my wife is saying things that aren’t true, I need to confront her and try to help her see a different way. If not, it will cause problems for our whole family.”
It is encouraging to hear these responses. Keep praying that God’s Word will bring conviction and lasting change.
Some of the Nuku area language groups in the Sandaun province of Papua New Guinea have been waiting for years for someone to help get God’s Word into their heart language (tok ples). So it was with great excitement that we welcomed the arrival of participants from Beli, Pahi, Heyo, Mehek, Yahang, Wanap, Laeko Libuat, Siliput, Yangum Mun, Yangum Dey, and Minidien language groups on Monday.
Due to significant rains in the area, swollen rivers and muddy roads made the trip to Wewak a challenge for many of the participants. The PMV (public motor vehicle) carrying many of the participants got stuck Sunday night, but they were able to dig out of the mud Monday morning and make it to Wewak. Others waited for rivers to recede enough that they could cross (as seen in the picture) or walk to the other side. We are very thankful to report that by Monday evening forty-one participants were safely in Wewak ready to begin class Tuesday morning.
Fifteen trainers are leading this course, many of whom are learning new roles and responsibilities this time. A couple trainers are being prepared to launch a new OBS cluster later this year in Sandaun province. We also have six brand new trainers who just graduated from the Lumi OBS workshop in January and are working to learn the ropes of teaching and mentoring new language groups. We are so grateful for the capable and enthusiastic team God has brought together to lead this work in the Sepik.
As the participants work at learning the Bible stories, one of the tools used is a voice recorder. After they have internalized the story and can tell it both in the trade language as well as their heart language, they record it on a voice recorder. The story can then be played back for the group to check the story’s accuracy. Tuesday they learned how to use the recorders.
Participants have another two weeks to learn a total of four Bible stories from Genesis. These stories are foundational to understanding many other aspects of the Bible. They have been learning the story of Cain and Abel over the last two days and God’s Word is already convicting men of their sins. Pray that they can learn the stories well and that the truth of God’s Word will change the lives of those present even before they head home. We wait expectantly to see how God will work in the days ahead.
Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar Feb 17 – Mar 17. Thanks for praying with us!