Yunu hung his head in his hands. When was help going to come? His beloved wife had recently died, leaving him utterly grief-stricken. He struggled to stay strong for his children, but life looked bleak.
Matters only got worse when lightning struck, destroying his solar-power system and computer. Even if he had money, he could not replace the equipment that was critical for his role as the Rawa literacy coordinator in Tauta, a mountain village of Papua New Guinea that lacks electricity, roads, and stores.
Word of Yunu’s troubles reached Don and Norma Toland, Wycliffe missionaries who had lived in Papua New Guinea for thirty years and served in Tauta during that time.
Don and Norma Toland with the first printed Rawa New Testament. Photo by Dave Smith.
While living among the Rawa people in Tauta, Don and Norma developed a writing system that allowed them to translate the New Testament into Rawa, and eventually also adapedt the translation into Karo, a language related to Rawa. They also developed a school curriculum, taught literacy classes, trained teachers, and produced books. During a one-year return visit in 2007, Don and Norma translated a government book on HIV/AIDS prevention into Rawa, and recorded the translated Scriptures onto solar-powered audio Bibles
When Don heard about Yunu’s losses and hardships, he prayed. His friend was deeply discouraged. Don knew that the Rawa children’s studies would be hampered without new reading material. So Don made the trip, halfway around the world, in September 2012 to help. When Yunu saw his friend, he wept a long time and thanked God for his return.
With the help of others, Don installed equipment that included new solar panels, a computer, and a printer. Yunu was greatly encouraged by this kind and unexpected assistance. The new equipment would help him continue to make a difference in the lives of many Rawa people.
Having Scripture in the Rawa language has brought evident changes in the community. Don says, “People are having a spiritual life change. They no longer live in fear of evil spirits. The church and schools have been revitalized. Families often read Scripture and pray together. Their Bibles and song books are well-worn from use.”
Don is quick to point out that it wasn’t his family alone that made the difference through the translated Scripture and literacy materials provided for the Rawa people. “When God leads one to serve Him, He may also lead many others, from all over the world, to use their backgrounds and talents. It’s like a concert—a symphony of service! God prepares each person, gets them into position, and orchestrates their lives to serve.”
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