By Brian Paris
We heard our friend Motz was sick, so we went to visit him in his village outside of Madang. When we got there I was shocked by what I saw. The man whose energy saw the New Testament translated into his language with minimal support from any mission organization, was now tired, small, and very sick. He told me he was diagnosed with heart failure and needed medicine from town. Before he could get the medicine, the doctor he was seeing wanted him to go to another doctor in town to get a second opinion. Once the doctors agreed, Motz would be treated. However, the relatively simple task of visiting a doctor and picking up his medicine was currently impossible due to tensions in the area.
A few weeks before I visited Motz, a few men from another language group came into Motz’s language group. They were drunk and it was late. Someone complained and told them to quiet down. At this point the details of the story are hard to understand, but the results were clear. One of the drunken men was struck with a machete that resulted in the loss of a few fingers and the boys with the machete were put in jail. The community the drunken man was from claimed a right to compensation since blood was drawn. In order to see compensation paid, this community has blocked cars coming from Motz’s area making it impossible for Motz to go to town to see the doctor and get his medicine.
The hardest part of this story is that not only does Motz’s language group have a New Testament in their language, but just a few months ago the other language group involved in the altercation dedicated the New Testament in their language. Sometimes in Bible translation ministry it is easy to see the completion of the New Testament, or even the whole Bible, as the end. In reality it is just a piece of a much larger story that God will use to guide and direct.
Please pray for this dispute. Pray that the in this area would allow the Word of God, now easily accessed by both these groups, to change their lives and halt the cycle of retribution. Also pray for full restoration to physical health for Motz. Before his sickness he was gathering a group to begin the long process of translating the Old Testament.
Brian and Hannah Paris serve through sociolinguistics and language survey.