Let Them Hear
Would you expect somebody who has never been to school to speak multiple languages fluently? Not in our hometown in Ohio! Yet it is very common in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. If you had grown up in the Highlands, the local dialect would be your first language, but you would also learn to recognize neighboring dialects and eventually Melanesian Pidgin, which is the trade language. The official language of PNG is English, but only the fortunate few who get higher schooling speak it fluently. PNG is the most linguistically diverse country in the world. Papua New Guineans are very oral people!
Angal Enen, ‘True Talk,’ is the mother tongue of the Nembi and Wara Lai people, where the majority of our churches are located. One of our own missionaries, Ruth Tipton, researched and wrote the language script, then translated the New Testament into Angal Enen.
Recently, we were challenged to build on this translation. Why not record the translation? Good question, but we did not have a plan for that. Neither Butch nor I were 1) extremely technologically qualified, 2) we didn’t have equipment, 3) there was no recording room, and 4) we do not speak Angal Enen. This request was going to take a leap of faith on our part, trusting that God would care for the details.
Guess what? The God who created languages is the God who inspired the Bible, and it was God who broke down the logistical barriers one by one. We had a small hand-held recorder, readers from the village, a college student volunteer from America, a blanket-covered studio in the corner of an old medical building, and recent high school graduates to edit the recording on our computer.
Long story short: now we have a solar-powered audio unit that ‘speaks’ both the trade language and the local dialect. Many people who have not heard and understood the Word will now have that opportunity. However, even those who do read and speak multiple languages have a new advantage—hearing the Bible in their heart language. People like Silas, one of the young men on the editing team. Although Silas is fluent in English, he was impressed with how clearly he understood the Bible in his own language.
Thank you all for standing by us and helping provide the Word for the non-literate as well as the educated in their heart language. When God calls you to serve Him in a way that seems impossible, He is faithful to provide the resources you need.
PRAY: Pray for missionaries like Butch and Leatha Jenkins, who trust God’s plan even when the risks seem high. Ask God to bless their efforts and to help them trust Him to work out the logistics.