Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar December 2017 – January 2018. Thank you for praying with us for the people of Papua New Guinea.
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.
Knowing that the vision of SPES is to work with the last one hundred languages in the East Sepik and Sandaun provinces, we understand that we cannot do that alone. Sometimes our partnerships include working with other SIL teams in these provinces. Murray and Carol Honsberger have been working with the Kwomtari people in Sandaun province for twenty-seven years. They have a desire to use Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) to reach out to some neighboring language groups, to help them get some of God’s stories in a format that can be understood by the communities.
In light of that, they asked if the SPES project would have trainers who could come and lead OBS workshops with four language groups (Kwomtari, Nai, Yade, and Baibai) in the Sandaun province. We give thanks that, at this point, enough training has been done, that we have several trainers who could go and run these workshops. What a joy and privilege to be a part of getting God’s Word to even more people.
Recently these four groups finished their first workshop and all twenty-one participants would echo the words of one Nai speaker: “The OBS course is a tool to use – pray that God will strengthen us. God is opening our eyes and changing our way of thinking. Pray that God will prepare our villages and the hearts of the people to hear. Pray that we will be able to finish all four courses and that we will see real change in our lives.”
Three Yade men came and are praying that five more will join them for the next course. One Yade man wrote: “In this first course I learned about what is involved in giving something to God, and about being a true friend to my wife.”
A Baibai man at the course wrote: “I have been chosen to do church work but do not know how to preach. OBS is teaching me how to share God’s Word.” Pray that the Baibai group will find one more person to join their group. They really struggled through the course but God enabled them to finish all four stories.
Praise God for the united effort of the Baiberi people who hosted the workshop. They are already talking about the next course in February and the preparations they need to make. One of the Kwomtari participants wrote: “OBS has strengthened my faith. It has taught me how to put a story well into my thoughts and keep it there. I have learned how to tell a story with an opening and closing. I feel OBS is teaching and enabling me to do my work as a church leader.”
Almost all of the participants were lay pastors – some were relatively new believers who had been sent to start a church – they felt lost. After the two weeks they left feeling like they had something they could share and a way to do so. Many were challenged personally by the stories.
We give praise to God for the impact God’s Word is already having on lives and will continue to have in the weeks and months ahead. Will you pray for these groups to know God more deeply?
Photos by Carol Honsberger
Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar October 17 – November 17. Thank you for praying with us for the people of Papua New Guinea.
Early one morning Amos Dagun had a dream. At that time, he had graduated from school and was looking for work, anxious to build up support for his parents. In his dream, a blue car came to his village of Turubu. Driving the car was a young couple with a baby. Amos assumed in the dream that they had come to speak with his father, but the car stopped outside his own window. Amos knew immediately that the car had come for him and began to gather his things, crying as he went, deeply saddened at the thought of leaving his family but urged by a voice inside him saying, “You go, do not stay in the village.” When he awoke from the dream, his instant reaction was to look for the car outside his window, but he only saw the usual village activity.
Night after night for a week, the dream returned, along with Amos’ questions regarding it – “Will this really happen? Will this come to pass?” Several days passed before Amos heard the noise of a motor passing by his home and stopping at the church, just next door. The car was from SIL and Gary had driven it to Turubu to distribute sign up forms for an Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) workshop. Amos realized that the blue color of the car in his dream stood for the blue logo of SIL. “Whatever happens, I will go and see what happens,” Amos decided.
At the OBS, Amos was the only participant from his Wunabaag tok ples (heart language). This proved incredibly difficult as the course functions with translation and checking, designed for individuals to work together with fellow tok ples speakers and their trainers. Furthermore, Amos continued to feel pressure to find paying work in order to assist his family back in the village. He struggled to understand his tok ples to the extent necessary to translate before finding a fellow speaker to come to the course with him. Amos’ friend was not a regular church attendee, but understood and spoke Wunabaag very well.
As the course continued, Amos’ understanding and appreciation of his tok ples increased while his friend began to feel the true impact of the stories he was translating. The dual effect of Scripture within their lives inspired the entire class. Amos remembers the ability of the OBS course to dig deep into God’s word, “…dealing with me personally,” and “…covering a bigger area,” than a sermon or regular message might.
Simultaneously, the pressure to gain a paying job gradually vanished as the joy and peace of being a part of God’s work began to outweigh the anxiety. As his family witnessed the change in his life, they too began to alter their perspective on doing God’s work. “Thank you for coming, SIL,” he concluded, “we now know more of Jesus and how He changes people.” Amos has taught seven more courses since becoming a trainer and uses the training often in his village, hoping to teach more courses including some Culture Meets Scripture courses.
Written by YWAM (Youth With a Mission) staff from an interview with Amos
Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar June 2017 – July 2017. Thank you for praying with us for the people of Papua New Guinea.
For several years, a few mission organizations have been collaborating together to create some software that could be used to make oral Bible translation happen. Render is now being trialed in several parts of the world to see how the process works. Since all parts of the process are done orally – translation, team checking and revision, consultant checking, and recording, it is ideal for communities that operate predominantly in an oral realm. As the SPES project has been watching Render develop over the last couple years, we have become very excited about the possibilities that it holds for small language groups in the East Sepik and Sandaun provinces of Papua New Guinea.
However, because Bible translation has been written, rather than oral, almost exclusively for decades, this new approach presents its own challenges. Where will we find people who can come and help us run the Oral Bible Translation (OBT) workshops? Ideally, these would be people who would feel comfortable switching from a written to an oral process or have received training in oral translation. Could it be you or someone you know?
Our current staff does not have all the skill sets needed to lead the training. We continue to pray and trust that God will lead people to us that have the needed skills to help Sepik language groups get God’s Word in a way that clearly speaks to them. A few of these roles are crucial and without people to fill them, OBT cannot move forward. The team in Wewak feels strongly that this is a natural next step for language groups who have already completed their Oral Bible Storytelling workshops. Language groups continue to call and ask when they can begin the next step of translation work. It is a struggle for us to not be able to tell them when the next steps will happen.
Each morning, the Bible passage to be translated will be discussed during devotions. Someone is needed who can help give a good understanding of what is being discussed in the passage from an exegetical perspective. They would need to be able to check specific key terms and help the teams make sure they are translating those key components in an accurate and natural manner.
Another person is needed who can help the teams understand a bit of how their language works linguistically. This is not as in-depth as it would be in a written setting. Some of the details are not needed in the oral realm, like consistency of spelling and punctuation, since it is all recorded rather than written. However, understanding some of how the grammar works, so that the passage can be translated naturally, rather than word-for-word from another translation will help the teams have translation that can be easily understood.
One translation consultant is needed for each language group. In the initial pilot project, the current plan is to include three language groups. The consultants would take the scripture portions that have been translated and go through them with the team to check for consistency of key terms, making sure nothing has been introduced that is not true to the Bible and to make sure that key items have not been omitted. As they go through each passage, changes that are needed will be noted and fixed before the final recording is released for the communities to use.
Will you pray with us that God will provide the people needed to move this work forward? If you or someone you know might be interested, please contact us by email or at our Facebook page.
1 Report from the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization Issue Group “Making Disciples of Oral Learners”, page 4.
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!