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.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Scripture Application Changes Lives

“People have to know God. He is the only answer." | Yopno Church Leader

Papua New Guinea

After more than two decades of tedious translation work, the Yopno New Testament and Psalms was printed and ready to be placed in the hands of the Yopno people. But would they know how to study it and apply God's truth to their daily lives?

That's an important question, and it's the reason Wes and Lee-Ann Reed followed the example of some other translation teams in Papua New Guinea in inviting a SALT team to come to their village following the New Testament dedication.

SALT stands for "Scripture Application and Leadership Training." Marjan Sikkema and three others formed the SALT team that went to Tapmange village to teach basic Biblical truths and how to use God's Word and apply it to daily life.


The building was full of people, so some sat around the outside listening intently to the lessons on God’s word through the thatched walls

More than 200 participants were enrolled in the course, and many of them had purchased the Yopno New Testament and Psalms at the dedication. They were eager to attend the SALT course which began two days later. In fact, so many people wanted to hear the lessons that there was not enough room for them in the building. Some sat outside, listening intently to the teaching through the thatched walls.

SALT teacher Marjan Sikkema said, "The people sat on the ground inside the building from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day for two weeks. The first several days we could hear their tongues clicking to express their wonder as they learned things that were new to them. They especially responded to the part about God's love and his holiness."

Another topic that touched their hearts was the teaching about families. They studied II Timothy 1:5, "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother, Lois, and in your mother Eunice . . . " This verse taught them that it is important for children to grow up with the example of parents who put their faith in Christ. They also studied Ephesians 5:22,25 to learn how husbands and wives should treat each other in the home. God's Word in their own Yopno language spoke clearly to them and motivated them to change the way they treat each other so they can live for God's glory.

One church leader testified, "Our village has had programs to teach us about the dangers of AIDS and how people need to change their lifestyles. Even though there has been a lot of money put into these programs, they haven't worked. But having the Scriptures will be the key for solving all our problems. People have to know God. He is the only answer."


Studying the Bible

Another man told Marjan, "Now I am sure of my faith in Christ. But I wonder how people will react. How do I go back to my village and tell them what I believe?" Marjan showed him Scriptures to help him remain strong in his faith. She assured him, "The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (I John 4:4)

Each morning of SALT, participants were given the opportunity to share what God was teaching them. Early in the second week, a young man stood before the group and told his story. He said that previously he had been involved in a life of sin, but now he wanted to follow Jesus. He pointed to the chart that showed the evil things the devil puts in our hearts: greed, envy, wrath, etc. He told the group, "I am turning away from all these things." Later one of the Christian leaders put his arm around him and said reassuringly, "God still loves you and with Christ you have the opportunity to start again." He burst into tears upon hearing this message of hope and forgiveness.

Each of the 200+ participants left the SALT course knowing how to dig out the truth in God's Word and how to apply it to their lives. They returned home to their villages armed with a two-edged sword for combating sin, fear and hopelessness. When friends and family ask questions about the Lord, they will now be able to open God's Book and read to them the message of life and hope in the language that will speak to their hearts - God's Word in Yopno!

Story by Karen Weaver and photos by Marjan Sikkema

This story can also be found on TheWordisLife.net

Ethnologue entry for Yopno | Ethnologue: Languages of the World is an encyclopedic reference work cataloging all of the world’s 6,909 known living languages.

Where do the Yopno people of Papua New Guinea live? Here’s a Map.