A Knight in the Desert

Kim Knight, Australian field recordist
Kim Knight, Australian field recordist

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Ken Hansen provided invaluable assistance
Action songs from the Ngukurr mob at the Katherine Christian Convention

'Some have learnt to read their own language but it is not natural or easy for them to pick up a bible and read it.'

For me it was a very different recording trip.It was the first time I had recorded an Aboriginal language and it was the first time I had been back to the North West for many years.

I was met at Newman airport by Ken and we travelled the next day to the community of Jigalong, about 180 km SE of Newman. Unfortunately, it turned out that many of the potential language helpers were going away to a carnival (football, boomerang and spear throwing, and music competition), but we managed to do some recording with one of them before they left. The rest of the reading was shared by a lady and Ken himself. This was not an ideal situation as it would have been better to have more involvement from others from the community - however, we had to do the best we could under the circumstances. The lady, who has a significant hearing problem, was nevertheless quite a good reader. She had worked with Ken in the original translation process. Also, she felt free to make suggestions about cultural matters, changes of wording etc to enhance the recording.

We had the use of the SDA church building in Jigalong and the pastor there, a Tongan man, was very supportive. This building was a reasonable distance from the centre of the community so noise interference wasn't too bad - just the occasional dog fight and a few vehicles going past.

Time was against us, so we had to keep the pressure on a bit to get the work done before we had to leave. Thankfully, we managed to record the sections that we most wanted. I want to thank those who prayed for us - for the Lord's protection and enabling and for His blessing on our fellowship as we worked together. I was very blessed through working with Ken who knows so much about the western desert people. I thank the Lord for the opportunity to get to know something of them and to be able to play a small part in making the Gospel available to them.

The Martu project is the first of what is hoped will be an extended program that will result in the recording of previously translated Scriptures and Bible material in about 17 Aboriginal languages. SIL, The Bible Society and GRN are major partners in this exciting venture. Please pray that as God's word is made increasingly accessible and intelligible to our indigenous people, that it will bring great blessing to them.

Martu language

Mr Ken Hansen, who knows both the language and the people well, had worked with speakers of different dialects of the language to produce a translation that would be acceptable to members of the whole language group. The Bible Society of SA and NT is now planning to reprint this Bible, which is called 'Mamamili Wangka', meaning 'Father's Word' or 'Father's Talk'. It should be available later this year. The Bible Society also wants to provide audio versions (CD and MP3) of key sections of Mamamili Wangka and so GRN was approached to help out.

One of the big obstacles to the Gospel with the Martu people, and many other groups, is that they are not readers. Some have learnt to read their own language, but it is not natural or easy for them to pick up a Bible and read it. They prefer to gather or pass on information orally. There are also very few people who can teach God's word using the Martu language, so what the people hear is usually in English, making it difficult for them to learn much of significance. It is exciting that at least some part of God's word will soon be available for these folk in audio form along with the printed word. This is the beauty of partnerships. It is hoped that this partnership of GRN and the Bible Society will help maximise the impact of God's word for the Martu people.

Katherine Christian Convention

Christians from all over the Northern Territory, Northern Western Australia and even Queensland, including a large number of Aboriginal Christians, attended the Katherine Christian Convention at the beginning of May. GRN Staff David & Katrina Miller were there displaying GRN Resources, including the Saber MP3 player. David attended the Indigenous Leaders meeting to explain how to use GRN's materials. Each evening was a cultural celebration, including action songs from the Ngukurr mob.

After the convention the Millers visited the AUSIL and Bible Society offices and the Nungalinya College in Darwin to learn about their ministries, and to provide some technical support for the Saber. They were able to present the Flying Bibleman, Phil Zamagias, with a gift of 10 Sabers, thanks to a donation by a GRN supporter. Phil has since distributed all ten Sabers in the Kimberleys.

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