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.
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.
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.
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.
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.