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The drum beats roll out across the island. The festively-dressed people gather. Then, the local chief and bearers appear carrying a box of Bibles in a specially-prepared yam house on their shoulders. The emotion becomes immense. The crowd breaks out in singing and dancing. The Kiriwina Bible is here!
It’s been fifty years since Australian missionaries Ralph and Margaret Lawton first arrived on the island of Kiriwina, in the Trobriand Islands.
Right from the start Ralph recognised that new Scriptures were urgently needed for the Kiriwina people, to replace outdated Scriptures which had first been published in the early 1900s.
Join TV journalist Joy Reid as she shares her experience on the Trobriand Island of Kiriwina in Papua New Guinea. After more than 50 years of work, the people of Kiriwina receive their first full Bible in their heart language.
Watch the video as TV Journalist Joy Reid shares her experiences of the launch.
Q & A on the Bible translation process
|Q.||The Kiriwina Bible took fifty years to complete. Do all Bible translations take that long?|
|A.||With modern computer programmes, the average time needed to complete the translation of a full Bible is 12 years.|
|Q.||What are the features of a Proclaimer unit?|
|A.||Groups of up to 300 people can listen at a time. The recording is programmed onto a microchip. It is solar powered with a rechargeable battery. It can withstand harsh climates and is very portable.|
|Q.||How many new translations are completed every year?|
|A.||On average, 35 new translations are completed each year.|
|Q.||How does a Bible translation get started?|
|A.||Once, the work was initiated by missionaries just like the Lawtons who, in many instances, would not only learn the language but develop an orthography or a written form of the language. Today, the request for a new translation will come from the indigenous people themselves, and they receive training to become the translators.|
|Q.||What is the process to translate a Bible?|
First, the translators must study the source texts in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
"The only way people can truly understand the Christian faith is when they read it in their heart language."
- Ralph Lawton, Kiriwina Bible translator.
|Q.||What is Bible Society's role?|
|A.||At every stage of the process Bible Society provides assistance to communities who are seeking to translate God's Word, through material and financial resources, and through training, mentoring and ultimately assuring the quality of the translation. As well, it provides expert service in the fields of typesetting, publishing and distribution.|
|Q.||Why is the support of Bible Society New Zealand supporters needed?|
|A.||An enormous investment goes into every new translation. Sometimes the work has to stop because the funding has run out. As well, there are 190 translation projects this year waiting to start which are unable to, due to a lack of funding.
"The cost of Bible translation is very high – both in terms of time, and human effort and money."
- Stephen Pattemore, Translation Services Director.
Living along the banks of the Orinoco River in Venezuela are the Piaroa people. They are a subsistence hunting and fishing people, renowned for their extraordinarily peaceful and egalitarian society. They first received the New Testament in the 1970s, but with the passing of time the language has become outdated and so a new translation of the New Testament is underway.
97 percent of languages in Latin America, Africa and South-East Asia do not have the full Bible in their heart language.
Nestled in the eastern reaches of the Himalayas is India’s picturesque state of Sikkim.
Around ten languages are spoken by the 600,000 residents who live there, including Lepcha which is the language of the oldest inhabitants of the region, and which has been in decline for some years.
In days gone by translation work was carried out by missionaries, but today the work is done by indigenous translators. “Training the translators” is now a key aspect of the support that the United Bible Societies provides to indigenous groups, who want to begin a Bible translation. In the Americas, for example, there are now two translator training programmes – one in Costa Rica and one in Peru.
Two day’s drive south of Mexico City, in a small mountain village high in the remote regions of Quetzaltepec, speakers of the Mixe language wait eagerly for members of the Bible Society translation team to arrive.
For Sinat and her family, who live in Cambodia, there seemed to be no way out of the poverty that they had always known. But there was one “option” which was readily available. Skipping school, Sinat began trafficking drugs. Things seemed to be going fine, until one day Sinat was arrested and sentenced to two years in Pusat Prison, one of Cambodia’s most notorious prisons. She was only 18 years old.
Congratulations to Caitlin Finlay, 19, and Julia McIntosh, 18, who joined Bible Society’s Flying Bibleman ministry visiting remote Aboriginal communities in Australia’s Outback, in May 2012.
A love of flying and a call to bring Bibles to remote Outback communities are both vital prerequisites for Australia’s Flying Bibleman. Born of the vision of pioneer pilot, Trevor Booth, in 1966, the Flying Bibleman ministry now stretches from Broome in the west, throughout the Northern Territory, and to the northern communities of South Australia, Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait. It’s an area covering over three million square kilometres or 40 percent of Australia’s land mass.
It was 1945, and Len Harris was a lone missionary in Australia’s remote Northern Territory.
Len spent his time travelling between Aboriginal communities, encouraging the small number of Christians and baptising new converts. But Len was frustrated by the large number of Aboriginal languages, and the sheer challenge of communicating the Gospel to the Aboriginal people.
Bible translation statistics
There are 6,909 languages in the world.
The full Bible has been translated into 476 of those languages.
6,433 languages are still waiting to receive the Bible.
This year, Bible Societies around the world are involved in 500 translation projects.
Bible Society New Zealand is supporting 33 of those projects.
Please give prayerful consideration to making a gift to support translation work to help bring another group of people, like the Kiriwina, the Bible in their heart language.
Or send your gift to Bible Society, Private Bag 27901, Marion Square, Wellington 6141
Bible Society has learned with sorrow of the passing of the following friends. Gifts towards the work of the Bible cause have been made in their memory. Their work of love goes on . . .
|Mr Colin Baker, Taupo||Miss Eileen Rowe, Rongotea|
|Rev Alex Barton, Dunedin||Mr Geoffrey Swinyard, Auckland|
|Mrs Heather Campbell, Palmerston North||Mr Locky Taitoko, Piopio|
|Mrs Susan Durrant, Auckland||Mr Malcolm Taylor, Tauranga|
|Mr Wilfred Hunt, Palmerston North|
"…Yet all of us hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things God has done!"
- Acts 2.11 (Good News Bible)
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