Hungry Rats, Crocodile Daydreams and Bible Translation

Posted on Posted in Translation
by Diane Miller

Hungry rats, crocodile daydreams and Bible translation—how are they related? It is essentially a relationship between literacy and Bible translation, for what good is a Bible in any language if there is nobody who can read it. “Wait!” you may be thinking. “That doesn’t answer the question.” Read on. Eventually you will see the connection.

Packing Shellbooks for Gandep
Packing Shellbooks for Gandep

PBT produces not only translated Scripture, but also shellbooks* in various languages designed to help people learn to read. Our national Publications Assistant, recently spent most of one week printing copies of 100 different shellbook titles to be put in the Gandep Bible Training Center Library along with 152 other shellbooks in eight or ten different languages that were printed for that purpose earlier this year. Among these shellbooks were stories of a very hungry rat and of crocodile dreams—just two of many titles that came to mind as I began this article. Shellbooks containing simple versions of Bible stories have also been included in the Gandep library.

Checking E1 Term 1
Checking E1 Term 1

Many of these shellbooks are also translated for use in the Elementary school curriculum which is being prepared by PBT’s three national literacy supervisors. A co-worker and I recently spent time with these three in a checking session, editing the Elementary 1 term 1 curriculum. Soon the two Waran speaking literacy supervisors will begin to adapt the Pidgin version of this portion of the curriculum for use in schools in the Waran language. It will later be adapted to other languages as well.

Akukem Men Translating Shellbooks
Akukem Men Translating Shellbooks

Several times this year men from the Akukem language group have spent some time in Madang preparing shellbooks and an Alphabet Book for use in the Akukem Elementary Prep schools. It was my privilege to help print the books so they could proceed with the proofreading and make necessary corrections. More shellbooks for the Akukem schools will be prepared in 2011.

Our concern is to prepare readers both for the present and the future. If you scroll down on this web site to the article Practice makes Purpose, you will find a picture from a Scripture Use course for the Akukem language group in which both adults and children are learning to read the Akukem book of Acts. Scripture Use courses are also being conducted in other language groups and at the Gandep Training Center where future Christian leaders learn how to prepare both themselves and those they will serve to use the Scriptures which have been translated into their own languages.

Practicing Reading of Vernacular Scripture at Gandep
Practicing Reading of Vernacular Scripture at Gandep

The writer of Ecclesiastes warns that of the making of many books there is no end (Ecclesiates 12:12). Those of us in the PBT Publications Department, however, are thrilled to be a part of that endless task because we foresee as the end result of our efforts Bible readers whose lives will be changed by the powerful Word of God.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. HEB 4:12 (NIV)

* Shellbooks are books made from a template or shell with pictures and an easy-reading story which can be translated into any language.

2 thoughts on “Hungry Rats, Crocodile Daydreams and Bible Translation

  1. This has not much to do with translation. But my son is a premature baby and he is still in the hospital after 2 months. I pray everyday and ask God to keep him strong. But everyday atleast once I see a rat run past me. Is there a meaning to that or is there some story in the bible that i can put into connection with this rat?

  2. Elisha,
    I just referred to this article as I was thinking of writing another one about shellbooks and was surprised to find a comment here that is just a little over a month old. I don’t think of a Bible story or connection, but I did offer up a prayer for you and your son and family. Though I do not know how things have turned out, the Lord knows all your needs just as He knows the needs of all His creatures. Sometimes we may wonder why He made some creatures, like rats, for example, or why various problems come up in our lives, but these things can serve to remind us that though good and bad exist together on this earth, God is always good and He cares for us and wants us to trust Him in both good times and bad times. He can bring good out of any situation for those who love Him as mentioned in Romans 8.28. As we walk through a world stained with sin and corruption,He will sustain us and lift us up if we remain faithful to Him. Even our trials can draw us closer to Him as mentioned in the book of James- JAMES 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, [3] because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. [4] Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. [5] If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. [6] But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. [7] That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; [8] he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

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