Aruamu language

By Marsha Relyea Miles

Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth. Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

Isaiah 43:6-7

The Aruamu people live in the steamy, equatorial jungles of Papua New Guinea, created for God’s glory.

They number between 8,500 and 9,000, and are a warm and friendly people. Their jungle environment is beautiful but often hostile…not exactly a tropical paradise. They have adapted resourcefully and creatively to the harsh realities of the bush. They know the names and uses for a myriad of trees, vines, plants, animals, birds and fish. Years of trial and error have helped them perfect building techniques using jungle materials. Only in this generation have they emerged from the stone age and begun using metal tools.

They must work hard to survive in the jungle. All gardening is done by hand. Animals are hunted with spears, bows and arrows and all sorts of clever traps.

The Aruamu people were created for God’s glory, but the jungles that provided their livelihood, were also filled with evil spirits and powers of darkness which caused them to live in fear.

But God’s heart for the Aruamu remained unchanged. He wanted to bring them to Himself. In the late 1970’s some Aruamu men traveled five hours away by road to the town of Madang and heard the Gospel. They came back to their village and shared what they heard and God began establishing His church among them.

But there was no alphabet in Aruamu and no Bible. God’s words and ideas were not in their heart language, but in “atornakam”- the language of outside or foreign people. They started praying in 1979 that God would send someone to them to help translate the Scriptures into Aruamu.

They have appointed a literacy committee to help us with the translation of the Bible and with teaching the people how to read. A number of very capable Aruamu men work with us in translating the Bible. The Literacy committee is enthusiastically involved in equipping other Aruamus to read in their own language. They write books, and they print them. And they sell the books in distant villages. They go on patrols to out lying areas to teach adults to read. And they teach beginning literacy classes to children in the community prep schools. In order to help fund these various projects, they operate a second hand clothes business and a small village trade store. They understand that the translated word of God can penetrate people’s hearts and lives if it can be read and understood.

A core of Aruamu Christians continues to grow in maturity as well as numerically. Their hunger for Him combined with their growing understanding of His word in their own language continues to result in the Kingdom of God growing among the Aruamus.

In 2004, the Aruamu people received the whole New Testament in their own language. They are now translating the Old Testament.