Why Translate Scripture?

Posted on Posted in Mixed Nuts

By Lori Witham

Welcome to the PBT PNG website! You might be asking, “Why are they translating the Bible for languages in Papua New Guinea?” Good question. I have an example which could help you understand.

Say someone gave you your own Bible as a gift. Thrilled, you sit down at the kitchen table to read it for your morning devotional. But you are surprised when the words are completely foreign.

God binɨb lum awl mɨdupsek kɨlop mapen lak anɨb ak tek, Ñɨne nokom ak kɨlop nen agɨl ñak agak. Ak nɨm, binɨb mɨdupsek nop gos lɨnɨgɨnɨgabal okok, pɨsnep ma kul gɨnɨgel, pel pelnep yenɨgel agak.” Jn 3.16 (Tay)

What would your reaction be? Would you be disappointed that the scripture you thought God could use to teach you was useless because it wasn’t in your language?  You want the Bible in English! You’d hand the book back and ask to send it to those who speak this language. Then you would ask for an English Bible that you could understand and benefit from.

I know this because I’ve sent New Testaments published in Papua New Guinean languages to my American supporters.  They have said,

“After looking through it a few times, we didn’t have much use for it since we couldn’t read it! … We wished it could have been in the hands of someone who could read it and draw close to God through it… It hurts to see one go unused.“

“I want my copy to be in the hands of someone local that can use it every day!!”

“Our only regret is that we cannot read it.”

Get it? This is exactly what the Christians of Papua New Guinea are saying. They’re being given English Bibles, and their reply is, “I hate to see this go unused. Please send it back to someone who can read it, and give me a Bible in my own language that I can understand and through it, draw close to God!”

Lori is the Administrator of Publications and the branch typesetter.

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