Our Concord friends will be able to remember nearly a year ago now when our home church decided they were going to raise the money for us to purchase a field vehicle for the translation program. This happened largely during ConcordQuest, their version of Vacation Bible School, last June. We were overwhelmed with gratitude that the children of our church family and other partners invested so heavily and blessed our ministry with this incredible gift. Since we returned to PNG last August, we’ve been trying hard to find just the right vehicle, and it wasn’t until the very day before we left for the village back in February that we actually got it purchased. We got to enjoy it for the afternoon, then left it behind in Kokopo while we flew to the village. Our colleagues in Kokopo then graciously arranged to send it on a cargo ship out to us a couple weeks later.
From the first day, when our excitement level was high and we needed to keep reminding each other that it was the Mamusi car, not the Wades’ car (we haven’t owned a vehicle since 2015), it was clear this car was going to need a good name. The Mamusi car, or “The Moose,” turned out to be everything we prayed it would be: powerful, reliable, and hard-working. It handled the rugged mountain roads and streams with grace, and the fact that it will carry at least 14 people is a nice bonus! We took it to four villages in our area to hold awareness meetings and show the JESUS Film, and we have big plans to use it even more as our translation team and its reach expands throughout the wider Mamusi-speaking area.
As we mentioned back in February, there were some circumstances while we were away on furlough that demanded the reformation of the translation team. This was a little scary to me since we had just spent several years training and working with the first team. But we know that God never wastes any time spent in His Word and in discipleship, so we have prayed in faith for Him to raise up the right people to take over the work. The smooth and quick formation of the new Translation Team was really exciting and even more confirmation for this ministry to go on. I can’t believe we didn’t get a good photo of the team together, but if you’ll go ahead and start praying for Patrick, David, and Mr. David, I promise I’ll get one next time I get out to Sivauna. In addition to the three new ‘official’ translation team members, every time we did anything we had help from 4-5 other community members who were interested in contributing to the work. These included Papa Nick, a former team member who is staying on as an advisor. These also included 2-3 members of our village family, which was incredibly encouraging.
Although they didn’t have the advantage of formal training in translation, the new team was very productive while we were there. The big project we needed to tackle, finishing the script for the JESUS Film in Mamusi, didn’t require actual Bible translation. Most of the film’s script is the gospel of Luke, which was translated last term. But translating other parts of the film did provide great opportunities to discuss translation principles we’ll need to draw on later. The script is now nearly finished, and we’re praying that circumstances will allow us to bring a recording team out later this year to do the actual dubbing.
The other major project we worked on was translating the liturgy for The Stations of the Cross, a very important Easter tradition, into Mamusi. Since most of the text is not direct Scripture quotations, the team was able to translate it adequately even with little training. What Scripture quotations were included were from Luke, so we were able to use them directly from what we had already translated! Having this document available and distributed in Mamusi was a great new way to get people really thinking about the meaning of the events surrounding Christ’s crucifixion. Interestingly, the lower Mamusi literacy skills (as opposed to more practiced skills in the national language Tok Pisin, in which the Stations of the Cross has always been read before) actually helped people gain clarity about the text. They really had to think about what they were reading, because reading their own language is still so unfamiliar, and that actually resulted in better comprehension, rather than the routine feel of using the text they’ve always used. Many people in the village gathered on multiple nights leading up to the weekly Friday afternoon observance of the Stations, and they took great pride in being able to read and understand what was going on. This was invaluable practice in and exposure to translation, without the pressure of it being the Holy Scriptures, for the new team. Who but God would orchestrate details like that?
Also during the Lent season, we made four trips in The Moose to surrounding villages. In each place we ran community meetings to raise awareness of the translation program and to remind people (we had sent out letters previously) that if they wanted to be involved, they needed to nominate two translators and a committee member to represent their village. Without fail, people were thrilled at what the Lord is doing through the program. They asked insightful questions, made helpful suggestions, and encouraged one another to work toward nominating people to participate. We were unfortunately unable to gather all the new team and committee members together before COVID struck, but we’re trusting that the Lord will continue to work and prepare people’s hearts in His timing. We closed each meeting by showing the JESUS Film in Tok Pisin, noting that next year we were aiming to come back around and show it in Mamusi. This idea of having a professional-quality movie about the life of Christ in their own language helped get folks very excited to help and support the work.
The work of Bible Translation in Mamusi is an exciting ministry that God has enabled each of us to be a part of. We know many of you pray for us daily, and we can’t tell you how much that means for us. Here are a few work-related prayer points for you to join us in.
- Please pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to work in the hearts of Mamusi people through the Word. We know what it’s like to be pierced by the Word and experience life change because of it. Pray that their church and individuals would gain fresh perspectives on who God is and who He is not.
- Please pray for the official translation team (Patrick, David, and Mr. David), as well as the handful of others who help out. Pray that they would continue to seek the presence and power of the Lord in their lives.
- Please pray for those in the surrounding villages that the Lord is raising up to join us in the work. Pray for them to have courage and peace in starting something new, that their communities would fully support them, and that they would live lives that are above reproach.
- Please pray for communication. With unreliable cell service and phones, it’s very difficult for us to talk with them, and it’s hard for them to communicate between villages, being limited to the occasional foot messenger.
- Our new waspapa, Willy, is trying to build a sort of garage for us during our absence. We would appreciate prayers over these logistics, since nothing is ever simple.
Thank you, dear ones, for walking with us on this journey. Like yours, our lives have taken a fairly radical change over the last several weeks. The matchless grace of God and the faithful prayers of His people are two of the constants that have anchored our souls as everything else seems to be constantly shifting. May God bless you and reveal Himself to you in new ways as you seek Him.