Light shining in the darkness

by bzephyr

The Gospel of Luke was translated and published in the Malol and Sissano languages for the first time in June 2011.

For those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9.2b)

Since then Luke has been recorded on audio, distributed on solar and hand-crank Scripture audio players, and used to begin training local church leaders how to incorporate the translated Word of God into family and church life.

Now they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed. (Isaiah 6.10b)

Beth introducing Scripture audio players to Malol church leaders in September 2013

Beth introducing Scripture audio players to Malol church leaders in September 2013

This year, the Jesus Picture Story DVDs were created with Malol and Sissano audio tracks, and it’s ready to be projected almost every other night in all the Malol and Sissano communities for the next 37 days. Two days ago, our teammate Beth left the town of Wewak with seven newly arrived YWAM team members in the back of a pickup truck for the long trip over rivers and muddy roads in order to start this ministry in Malol country.

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them… I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. (Isaiah 42.10,16b)

These eight people along with the Malol and Sissano translators and literacy teachers will make up the teams who are taking the light of the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for the first time on screen and with the translated Words of God into these dark places.

I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42.6-7)

Left to right: Caleb, Ben K., Effy (leader), Ben H., Natalie, Courtney, Stephen (leader)

Left to right: Caleb, Ben K., Effy (leader), Ben H., Natalie, Courtney, Stephen (leader)

The plan was to start driving at the crack of dawn and arrive by truck at the first Malol village in the early or mid afternoon. They would meet Malol literacy teachers John and Benedict if the road was impassable, and a team of local volunteers would then help them trek through the mud to the first overnight. Little did they know that the Malol translators, Philip and Petrus, had decided to leave the translation workshop for the weekend and surprise them for their first of 10 two-day programs in the Malol language area.

Left to right: Benedict, John, Philip, Petrus

Left to right: Benedict, John, Philip, Petrus

Teammate Missy, also decided to make the trek with Philip and Petrus and help the team through their first experience of bathing in the sago swamps, locating pit toilets, setting up mosquito nets, and possibly doing this all in the dark. Why are they going through all this trouble? To provide hope to those who rely more on the light of their torches than on the light of the Lord. Consider…

Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50.10b-11)

Left to right: John and Philip listening to Luke on audio while Benedict and Missy demonstrate how to read along

Left to right: John and Philip listening to Luke on audio while Benedict and Missy read along

Here’s how that first day panned out…

  • 6:00 a.m. – Beth and the YWAM team depart Wewak by truck to Malol country
  • 12:01 p.m. – Beth texts “We are at Yakamul 3. A car is stuck in the road. We wait til they get it out. Lots of flooded rivers. Will text when we get to Aitape.”
  • 12:35 p.m. – Missy, Philip and Petrus depart translation workshop in Arop village by foot to Malol country
  • 1:37 p.m. – Beth texts, “We are in Aitape. We are heading straight to Malol. We will text as soon as we get there and find the network there.”
  • 2:30 p.m. – Beth texts, “We are at the Yalingi River now. It is flooded. We will wait to cross and then will find John. We may have to walk to Malol because of the river.”
  • 5:37 p.m. – Missy texts, “Made it to Malol. Will try to send message later.”
  • 9:28 p.m. – Missy texts, “Hi Ben, wow it’s a long way. Minus the 30 min canoe we walked almost constantly for 4.5 hours. My legs are tired but I’m doing fine. Everyone is here, beds set up, almost all washed, ready to eat and sleep. Hope the rest of ya day went well. Missy.”
  • Next day – Petrus texts that Beth and the YWAM team had arrived in Malol really late in the evening, and they were welcomed at that time. Now they will rest and start the program on Monday.

Next day – Ben texts Missy: “Was Beth totally surprised to show up after dark and see you?”

Missy: “No, she wasn’t because Philip couldn’t help himself and he had to tell John, who told her. But she was soooooooo happy!”

Isn’t that the way it is with good news? It’s so good, you can’t wait to tell someone. Even at the risk of spoiling the surprise, you just can’t hold it in. You’ve just got to tell somebody.

Will you pray with us that as this team shows the story of Jesus’  life, death and resurrection and as the people hear it in their own language that they will be sooooooo happy to hear and see the light? And that they too will feel compelled to go out and tell others?

Also, Philip and Petrus will accompany Missy back to the translation workshop within the next few days so that they can continue to be a part of the ongoing translation work with 9 other language teams as they draft Titus and Philemon together into their own languages.

Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. (Isaiah 60.20)

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2 Comments to “Light shining in the darkness”

  1. Ben and Mandy, What a legacy you and your team members are creating; the legacy of LIGHT! It’s exciting to see how the Lord has helped with the translation work , preparation of audio, written, and film versions and now the presentations.
    Certainly The Lord of The Word is present in these presentations and will call many by mercy and love to the light of His salvation. There is going to be a whole lot of NEW happening! We celebrate with you the extra helpers the Lord has sent. Truly a God-send. Blessings, (your Florida) Mom and Dad

  2. I needed to hear this. In the past month I’ve gone through 13 texts on PNG cultures and have been discouraged how much darkness I found there. I needed to hear that the light still dawns in dark places and shines. Thank you.

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