Wycliffe Associates, an international organization involving people in the advancement of Bible translation, is undertaking efforts to launch at least 30 new Bible translations in the next month in Papua New Guinea despite recent civil unrest and tribal violence in some regions of the country.
“We have seen how God’s Word heals even the most ancient conflicts and brings together even the oldest enemies when people encounter the Scriptures in their own heart language,” says Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates.
The majority of the nation’s 6.9 million people reside in the Highlands and eastern coastal areas, with only one-fifth of the population living in urban areas.
Comprising the eastern half of the island of New Guinea in the South Pacific region, Papua New Guinea is home to approximately 12 percent of the world’s languages.
Savage fighting began among members of one tribe when a pastor died of cancer, and superstitious villagers blamed it on “sanguma,” or witchcraft.
“People believe in black magic, believe that witchcraft controls their lives through curses and spells and magical poisons,” says Smith. “They’re trapped in the same animistic worldview that controlled their ancestors.”
Wycliffe Associates is bringing together mother-tongue Bible translators, including some from warring clans, to begin new Bible translation projects using a collaborative, rapid Bible translation method called MAST (Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation).
“We’ve seen the Holy Spirit at work,” says Smith. “We must share the Scriptures to bring hope and healing to these people.”
Using MAST, teams of mother-tongue Bible translators can translate the entire New Testament in months rather than years.
“For generations, Christians have ached to experience God’s Word in their own heart language—and today they are still waiting,” Smith says.