Archive for September, 2010

An Indonesian woman reads a portion of a newly published New Testament to her son

By Bob and Marilyn Busenitz with Mary Tindall

I will praise you in the great assembly. I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship You. The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the Lord will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.

Psalm 22:25–26 (NLT)

As we listened to the congregation singing in Balantak, we remembered the day we arrived in this area of Indonesia nearly 29 years ago. Our mission then was to translate God’s Word for the Balantak people. Now, surrounded by men and women we had grown to love, we celebrated with them as the Balantak New Testament was finally dedicated.

Standing next to us was Nius, a man who had sacrificed much for the sake of translation. When we began working with him in the mid-1980s, he was a young Balantak pastor who longed for his brothers and sisters to have God’s Word in their language, so they could study it for themselves. Nius had been so dedicated to the work that he was even willing to make trips to work with us in the Philippines, where we relocated when we could no longer get a visa for Indonesia, even though it meant being away from his wife and family for several months at a time. Today Nius’ sacrifices had paid off.

Standing beside Nius were our children, Verona, Katie, and Justin. All three were born in Indonesia. Toddling around from house to house, they helped us form friendships among our neighbours in the village. Today they stood as adults praising God for the work He had so faithfully completed.

As we listened to the chorus of voices, we also remembered dear friends from our home church in Kansas, who couldn’t be there in person, but had sent a letter exhorting their brothers and sisters halfway across the world to cherish God’s Word now available in their own heart language.

Nius, our family, and our fellow church members had taken part in a work bigger than ourselves—the work of bringing Scripture to those who had never had it before in their own language.

We were also reminded of the other Balantak translation team members, who were deeply involved in this work.  Their enthusiastic participation affirmed the value of their language and culture in a nation where they are often overlooked because of their minority status.

More importantly, they encountered the truths of Scripture in a fresh way. In Luke 14:26, Jesus says, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.” After reading this verse in his mother tongue, a Balantak man said he finally understood what Jesus meant—that the relationship with Him is more important than any family relationship. Knowing the intent behind Jesus’ words made the Scripture come alive.

After the dedication, we travelled with Nius, meeting representatives of about 60 Balantak congregations and delivering more New Testaments. Within a month nearly 1,400 of the 3,000 New Testaments printed for the Balantak people had been distributed. We believe that as these Scriptures make their way into hearts and minds, God will continue the work He began so many years ago. And as we reflect on three decades of work in Bible translation, one truth stands out: God uses people like you, Nius, and us for His purposes and His glory.

Editor’s Note: Bob and Marilyn Busenitz have worked as translators for the Balantak language of Indonesia for nearly 30 years.

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Written by Carol Schatz and Bob Creson, with help from Elizabeth Wilson
After five long years of church planting in South Asia, Manaja (name changed for sensitivity reasons) was perplexed. He zealously proclaimed the Good News, but he had to admit that even when he ministered to his own people, “I could never be sure if my message really captured their hearts.”

Then he attended a year-long storytelling course that was sponsored by a major South Asian mission organization and guided by Elizabeth Wilson, a Wycliffe consultant representing OneStory—the oral storying initiative of Campus Crusade for Christ, Trans World Radio, Youth With a Mission and Wycliffe Bible Translators. The Seed Company provided funding.

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By Elizabeth Wilson

The author sharing stories in South Asia

It was about midday.  I sat on our shaded concrete porch and watched determined villagers, in worn flip flops, trek along dusty paths that crisscrossed the surrounding foothills of the majestic Himalaya mountains.  At the other end of the porch, I listened as my colleague asked our language helper for the equivalent of three pictures (a square, circle, and triangle), in the local Kahani* language. (‘Kahani’ is a pseudonym).

After taking a long look at the shapes, our language helper responded with these words:

‘Handkerchief’ for square.

‘Chapatti (or a round, tortilla type of bread) for circle.

‘Mountain’ for triangle.

It was at that moment that I realized first-hand that I was living among an oral people group tucked away in the mountains of South Asia.  Being from a predominantly oral society, our language helper connected the abstract objects she was presented with, to concrete items found in every-day life.  Had she been from a Western literate tradition or one with formal education she may have responded with a previously learned titles such as ‘square, circle and triangle.’

Clearly these simple objects may have different meanings depending on the background of the audience.  For an oral society, an abstract idea like ‘shapes’ may have more of a ‘foreign’ flavor, and be interpreted as something outside of their culture.

So, the question then becomes how might the potentially foreign sounding Truths of scripture, such as grace and forgiveness, be transformed into an understandable form for an oral society like the Kahani people group?

How can God’s truth reach these groups in a way that they can truly connect with, in this generation?

Editor’s note: Guest Blogger Elizabeth Wilson is a storying consultant with Wycliffe Bible Translators and currently resides in Orlando, Fla.

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