Capacity building for PNG leaders
Wycliffe Today – June 2019 (PDF) | PHOTO BY GARY McMASTER
It’s an overcast day in Kangaroo Ground but the warm smiles that greet me at the SIL Australia campus near the Wycliffe Australia National Centre are enough to light up the room. Behind these smiles are two men from Papua New Guinea dedicating their lives to Bible translation. Stephen Moyaru and Kidu Magi are in Melbourne for one year to further their studies so they can contribute more to the work of PNG Bible Translation Association (BTA). Stephen is working as a Program Coordinator and Kidu has translated the New Testament into the Sinaugoro language and now contributes to a range of other projects as a Translation Consultant. Their schedule involves a full-time study load to complete a Diploma of Ministry with SIL Australia through Melbourne School of Theology (MST), including a couple of subjects at MST.
PNG is home to around 12 percent of the world’s languages. There are 838 living languages in PNG and 462 of those languages are still without any Scripture of their own.* The needs are great but there is currently a worldwide shortage of translation consultants and checkers to continue the work. Stephen explains that more specialised local translators are required to help keep momentum going:
Our strategy for the next three years involves strengthening nine languages and publishing six completed Bible translations. The only way we can do that is to have workers who understand the language and the culture – but they also need the right level of training. That is why we’ve come to Australia to be further trained in theological studies so that we can continue training future translation teams in PNG.
Kidu adds that there is also a need to increase the sense of ownership among the people to help move into the next phase of translation:
We not only have to increase our training – we also have to increase partnership with the communities and church leaders, as the people must own and invest in Bible translation and not think of it as white man’s work. It’s our language and we need to ensure that there will be more people to carry on the task for the future. We are praying for God to bring about this change.
Despite the long hours of study and challenges of Bible college, Stephen and Kidu are excited about what God will do through their time in Melbourne. They are trusting God to guide them but they have asked for prayer for the following:
- for the Lord to help them to focus on their studies and manage their time well
- that they will be able to communicate with their families and provide for the needs of their families while they are away
- that Kidu’s wife will soon be able to join him and that the visa paperwork and finances will soon be sorted
* Wycliffe Global Alliance statistics current as at October 2018