Kurt, Johanna, Kassia, Lukas and Matthias

Our family in Papua New Guinea | 2012

Ukarumpa and Aiyura Valley

Ukarumpa is SIL's center of opperations in Papua New Guinea and where we live and work.

Miniafia New Testaments from the dedication in 2010

"God is a Miniafia Man," the loincloth-clad speaker exulted! "Before He was English, and American, and Australian. But today He has become Miniafia!"

Doini Island

Photo by Tim McIntosh (SIL PNG's boat manager in 2008) | Many of the 100's of islands in PNG can only be reached by boat.

Where do you play when you live on an island?

Children from Nubwageta village playing near the shore.

Miniafia New Testament Dedication

New Testament dedications in PNG usually include elaborate processions to welcome the Bibles.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

People are Praying for Me!

Traveling to the village by canoeWith shouts, groans, and laughter, a beautiful new canoe is hauled up from the river bank into Iowa village (say, YO-wah). For the Bamu people of Papua New Guinea (PNG), dugout canoes are a vital means of transportation, and the rivers are the highways.

World of Mud and Water

The Bamu River cuts a wide brown swath through southwestern PNG’s vast sago palm swamps. Twice each day, salty tides from the Gulf of Papua rush up the river, reversing the direction of its flow. This tidal activity floods most Bamu villages regularly.

There are no rocks; there is no dry ground. The people’s world is one of mud and water. If they can’t quite believe that God separated the land from the sea, nobody could blame them.

Bible Translation overcomes Fear

It is in a canoe, of course, that Domai Gaida and her husband, Adau Kaniwa, commute from their home to their office several days each week. Adau and Domai are Bible translators working to make the Scriptures available in their mother tongue, Bamu.Domai working on translating

The couple hopes that through their work, many Bamu people will come to experience the joy and freedom Christ offers. Today, most Bamu people live in intense fear of sorcery and evil spirits. Many burn their hair clippings and fingernail clippings, lest someone should find them and use them to work deadly magic. Others feel spirits come to them at night, pressing their bodies until they cannot breathe.

“Their base state is fear,” explain Phil and Chris Carr, New Zealanders who assist Adau and Domai in their translation work.

Though a few churches are present in the Bamu villages, the Christian message is not well understood. Scriptures are read in English, a foreign language of which most Bamu people have little or no comprehension.

As a result, very few people understand the relevance of the gospel to daily life. Instead, they rely on sorcery and prayers to manipulate the spirits that they dread.

People are praying!

Domai herself recalls a terrifying encounter with the powers of darkness. She felt an evil spirit whisk her physically away. She felt branches whipping past her face as she moved at great speed. She could hear people calling her name, but she was unable to respond.

Adau and Domai at work on the translation She could think of only one thing: “People are praying for me!”  Domai knew that Christians in Papua New Guinea were praying for her, and the Carrs had told her that Christians in New Zealand and elsewhere were also lifting her up in prayer.

Finally, the spirit left her alone in the forest, where her friends found her. She was shaken but unharmed.

Every important undertaking, whether building a canoe or translating the Bible, requires the participation of an entire team. And prayer supporters are absolutely essential to the Bible translation team.

“If people stop praying, there’s no point in us going back there,” says a translator who works in another part of PNG. “The battle is so fierce that unless you have an army of prayers and supporters behind you, you don’t stand a chance.”

The next time that Domai or anybody else cries out, “People are praying for me,” let’s make sure that somebody is.

(Story by David J. Ringer)