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Vernacular Initiative in Translation and Literacy
Three times each year, SIL (Bible translation agency) draws together mother tongue translators from the different people groups in the Milne Bay province for one month of training and translation. At least once per year Sybil will be there to record Scripture portions, after consultancy checking has been done. In addition to the translated scriptures, several language groups are asking for the GRN "Good News" and "Look, Listen & Live" programs. So as the translators finish translating those scripts, Sybil records them also. To date scripture portions have been recorded in about 16 languages through the VITAL program.
With the increasing availability of recorded material, there is a need for playback devices. GRN's hand wind Saber player is proving popular. Here are some stories and feedback that Sybil has collected.
Francis (GAPAPAIWA) told of how the old recordings done by Don Richter are very special to the people. They realise their fathers and grandfathers responded to the Gospel through the first recordings, but the present generation have not followed the Christian way of their forefathers and have lived in spiritual darkness. That is until revival came after 20 years of work of the Bible translators. Francis has wonderful opportunities to share the recordings countless times. He finds the Saber is a great resource to share the gospel. When an old man was feeling sick and ready to die Francis played him the old recordings including a message he had spoken. God spoke to him and now he wants to live.
Betty (ARE) is thrilled that, after 12 years of hard work, they have the Saber player and cassettes with Luke's Gospel. She told us how her team have gospel materials for everyone with the message of the Bible. There are literacy materials for those who want to read, and audio materials for the older people and children.
Wilkinson (TOPURA) wanted to thank GRN for the Saber with Scripture readings and Bible stories in their own languages because this is a way for non-readers to hear the Gospel.
Karla (SIL Coordinator in Milne Bay) recently wrote to her supporters: "We'd like to express our heartfelt thanks to those of you who got excited about the Saber when we showed it to you and have contributed to VITAL's Saber project. "For those of you who didn't get to see one, the Saber is a hand wind MP3 player. By winding the handle on the front of the unit you power a rechargeable battery. With this endless power supply and the large internal speaker, village crowds of hundreds can listen to Scripture portions that we've recorded in VITAL - in their heart language. "Hearing their translation has proven to be a great checking tool for the translators; but more important, the recorded Word is a huge blessing to those who may never learn to read." We have also heard that some of the recordings have been broadcast on the local radio stations in the area.
Rufus, a Minafia speaker from the Bible storytelling course, told me how for 30 years he had preached the Gospel to his people with little response. God laid on Rufus' heart to tell his nephew a Bible story he had crafted at the course. At the time there seemed to be little response. Later in the night the nephew woke up Rufus so he could hear the story again. The nephew said he wanted to gather all his friends to hear the story. Rufus was amazed to see 69 people turn up who had turned their face from the church. The story made such an impact on these peoples' lives that they have started to come back to church.
Sybil had the privilege of recording 4 stories with Rufus. He said that Bible storytelling in the mother tongue is far more effective in communicating the Gospel than preaching.
It is a privilege to have the opportunity to record these stories in 9 languages. They can be played on the Sabers so people will not forget what God is saying to them.
Papua New Guinea
The people who make up the 900+ language groups of PNG - even the highly educated ones - are predominantly oral communicators. Stories and songs are at the heart of their oral cultures. Making the gospel come alive in their own languages is GRN's goal.
Sybil Shaw has recorded in 146 languages in PNG over many years. For the last six years she has been working in close cooperation with Bible translation teams in Milne Bay province, recording portions of Scripture and GRN scripts in many languages.
On her last trip in February 2011, Sybil also recorded Bible stories that were being learned and told in a Bible storytelling workshop. Over two weeks Sybil recorded 86 stories in 9 languages.
Much more is planned for the future. The recordings will help ensure the 'reliability' of the spoken stories. They can also be listened to when there is no storyteller or the storyteller is tired!
In February 2012 Sybil will be back in PNG recording translations of Genesis in three languages, GRN material in several languages and Bible stories in another ten languages. There is a great need for dedicated young Christians who have a vision of reaching the tribes that have never heard the Gospel in their own mother tongue to train as recordists.
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