PNG - Letter from Missionary Translators

Papua New Guinea villagers celebrating the completion of a new Bible translation
Papua New Guinea villagers celebrating the completion of a new Bible translation

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. . . some years ago . . .

A team from Gospel Recordings visited us in our camp for about two weeks. During that time we translated 13 of their three-minute Gospel messages and helped to tape them.

I found it exciting to make sure the native speakers understood each sentence and repeated it without making changes in the message. One of the most difficult sessions took four hours - just to tape a three-minute recording.

On the last night we gathered as a group and rehearsed a translation of the hymn, "A Mighty Fortress", for about two hours and we were all exhausted!

In June, when the sets of records arrived we weren't sure just what the response would be among the people. For years we had been trying to interest the schooled Wantoats in reading the Word and coaxed a few of the non-literates to learn. We had no reason to anticipate success with the recordings, but we prayed, others prayed and God answered.

We did our best "salesmanship" and were able to place players in 9 of the Wantoat villages and taught the operators to use them. Later we went to more of the plantations and remote settlements and now have 14 of the players being used, including one at a medical aid post and one at a village trade store.

Just two weeks after we took the player and recordings to one place, we came back and found that the battery supply was already gone. A man had left for a town 35 miles away to get some more.

In connection with these records, there's another story to tell that has tragedy that is touched with joy.

Katusali, our most able translation helper, consented to be the speaker on two of the recorded messages. As he struggled over the recordings and a few more parts of Scripture he helped translate, Katusali found Christ in a new way. He became a radiant testimony and shared the Gospel at every opportunity.

Shortly thereafter, he died following a brief illness, leaving a wife and infant son. Now, whenever those recordings are played, a hush comes over the listeners. Katusali, though dead, still speaks.

We thank God that these Gospel recordings are now being heard regularly by hundreds of Wantoat people, and we pray that many more hearts will be touched by these tireless little plastic messengers.

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