Training Trainers: Part 1 ‘Church Engagement’

by mendibpng

In addition to final checking of Acts, we’ve done some new things this year: Church Engagement and Dictionary making.  Our year has been full of village stays and so writing about these events has fallen by the wayside….this is an attempt to show how our team has collaborated with and learned from the experience of others and brought it back to the Aitape West region.

Ben has taken the opportunity to visit district church leaders whenever we have passed through Aitape town on our way in and out of the village. Every time, they enthusiastically received him, particularly when he handed out complimentary copies of the newly printed Gospel of Luke in seven languages. We wanted to see the leaders involved in the promotion and use of the scriptures, so Ben began talking to them about hosting a vernacular Bible conference for them in Aitape, something that we had never attempted before.

Last November, Ben attended a similar conference at our regional center in Wewak along with four of our Papua New Guinean coworkers.  Our friends who work with the SPES project organized the conference and had invited church leaders and pastors from all over Wewak. For one of the sessions, they invited Ben to speak about new mission approaches in the Sepik. In between sessions, and at meals, he enjoyed having time to talk to the church leaders. Some of our translators also had opportunities to share their testimonies. The participants came away with the desire to partner together to further their shared goals as a group. Those of us working in Bible translation saw that dialoguing together fostered ownership and the desire to use the local scriptures.

Fast forward to August of this year….those four PNG translators who attended the workshop in Wewak helped lead a similar workshop in Aitape town, which we called “The Aitape Baibel Conference.”

At the conference, the participants started to grasp the importance of Bible translation. Ken Tobiana, who came as a guest speaker from Ukarumpa, (pictured above on the far right) used a People Chain to explain the importance of supporting Bible translation.

Here are some of the things mentioned by the pastors who attended the workshop:

“A lot of the pastors use big English words [from the English Bible] but they are only pretending. They don’t know the real meaning of the words and how it can help all people.”

“The Word of God has come and united us. So it is a big thing. Today we have gathered, and in this work, I believe we will join together, and it is probably a blessing and a question posed to us. I believe that. Let’s clap our hands to the triune God. This is like the plan of God Himself.”

“I feel like something is rattling in my spirit…”

“This conference is a big challenge. Now we come to a time of teaching [God’s talk]. Hosea 4:6 People perish for a lack of knowledge.”

“God’s Talk will change your life.”

The participants left with a desire to see God’s Talk translated into their mother tongue languages, some very emotional and determined to see Bible translation started in their own language groups. As for the Aitape West team, our Papua New Guinean translators were encouraged that the district-level church leaders recognized the value of the important work that they are doing.  It was also affirming that the leaders are now supportive of using the local language scriptures in the churches. All of the participants (particularly the church leaders) became enthusiastic about the possibility of beginning translation work in other languages in the region that have no scriptures yet.

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