On a hot summer morning in June 2016, a group of J girls welcomed an entourage of guests to their village to the sound of beating drums and dancing. It was a day for the Christians of that village to celebrate the dedication of the New Testament now available in their mother tongue. The J language was surveyed to identify the need for Bible translation and language development almost 20 years ago, in 1996.
In my first three years in PNG, I was an unassigned linguist, helping out with various projects all over the country. This was great exposure to the different aspects of translation work, but I desired to settle in with one language community long-term. The slow and challenging process of deciding where this would be was soaked in prayer and required much patience.
During a mission trip 27 years ago, Matthew was first introduced to the need of Bible translation in his own country. At that time, there were an estimated 250 languages needing translation in this strategic South Asian country. Confronted with this enormous need, Matthew wondered, ‘If I committed my life to Bible translation, what difference would this make? It’s like a drop in the ocean.’
The Bible is full of rhetorical questions, but rhetorical questions simply don’t exist in some languages. This can present some unique challenges for Bible translation.
Stanthorpe has lost one of its finest sons. On Sunday morning of the 9th of October 2016, Andrew Sav, aged 54, completed his journey home. Andrew was born in Stanthorpe in 1962 and attended the local high school. After an apprenticeship as a sign writer Andrew joined a Christian Mission organisation called Operation Mobilisation. O.M. is an interdenominational organisation which brings aid and Christian ministry and care to developing world countries via ocean going ships equipped to bring help and hope to all.
When our colleague Andrew Sav died, we could hardly believe it. After all his work in such a difficult, hostile area of the world, we just couldn’t take it in. What was God thinking? Why now? A simple elective surgery had resulted in death. We were overwhelmed with grief.
God was at work in the remote Akwaya area of Cameroon long before we arrived in 2008. Soon after we arrived, we were asked to find someone from the area who we could send to a four-year Bible translation degree course at a regional seminary. We asked a local, Pastor Napoleon, whether he was interested in accepting this place. We discovered then how perfect God’s timing is.
Our family has been living in a village in Vanuatu since 2003, supporting local translators to translate the Scriptures into one of the many local languages. Prayer and patience have gone hand-in-hand both with our family and the project. Our four children have all grown up here, but as they get older they need to return to their passport country for schooling.
In 2015 one of our two mother-tongue translators had to step down from the team due to a moral issue. This sent shock waves through our team and significantly slowed down our progress in translation as we supported this family. Many hours were spent listening to outpourings of pain, seeking good counsel and praying with and for our friends.
Witnessing the dedication of the Bantoanon/Asi New Testament with Genesis and Exodus on 6 April 2017, was the best farewell present Heather Kilgour Crossley could have received, as her 35 years in the field came to a close. The Bantoanon/Asi language is spoken by about 80,000 people, spread across four small islands in the Central Philippines.