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!
On 8 February 2012, a very special event took place on the island of Kiriwina, in the Trobriand Islands, situated to the east of Papua New Guinea.
The Kiriwina people received the full Bible in their heart language of Kirivili for the first time.
Among the crowd of thousands were Ralph and Margaret Lawton, missionaries who first felt called to begin work amongst the Kiriwina people in 1961, and for whom this translation has become their life’s work. Now well past retirement age, the Lawtons never thought they’d live to see this day. Today, they’re bursting with pride and emotion and the tears flow as they recall the events which led up to this moment. But they’re adamant that this day isn’t about them. It’s about the Kiriwina people, some of whom have played a vital role in bringing this translation about.
One of these is Nelson who has spent every night for the past few decades translating the Scriptures by hand under the dim light of a kerosene lamp until the early hours of the morning.
Like the other local translators, Nelson’s made enormous sacrifices to ensure that the Kiriwina people have access to God’s Word. And already revival is taking place here. The old gods are put aside and the one true God is finding His rightful place amongst these people.
Around the world it’s only one of 500 translation projects which Bible Societies are involved in this year. And every single one of them has a story to tell!
You can become a part of the “translation story” by making a gift to support Bible translation work. Your gift, made today, will help to ensure that another group of people, like the Kiriwina, will have their “big day” when they receive the Bible in their heart language.
Thank you and God bless you!
Seventy year old Jin can’t stop smiling or singing. She’s walked for three hours in sub-zero temperatures to get to church.
The reason? Today, free Bibles are being given out to the congregation. And she’s got one.