Click here to read Part 1: Nawuri
On March 14, Wycliffe USA staff gathered in Orlando to celebrate sixteen recent Scripture translations. Three staff members shared stories about some of the translations featured. We have been posting the scripts for each of these stories on our blog. Here is the second story, by Melissa Chesnut, who works in Wycliffe USA’s human resources department:
The Alune New Testament, Indonesia
It has been a long journey for the Alune people to receive the Word of God in their heart language. The Alune people live in Indonesia on an island that is part of the Maluku archipelago. There are around twenty thousand people in this language group. Once known as fierce warriors, a powerful Alune leader came to know Christ in 1920 and influenced many of his people to do the same. However, it wasn’t until 1986, when two Alune men sought help from foreign linguists, that the translation work of the New Testament was started.
During those twenty-six years, the translators faced many hardships. And in 1999, they had to evacuate to Australia due to civil unrest. Two full-time mother-tongue translators continued to receive further training and carry on the work, despite many hardships that they encountered along the way—bombs, life threatening experiences, illness within their families, helping others to deal with trauma, and countless more.
Moi was one of the mother-tongue translators for the Alune project. His journey towards working as a translator was also filled with obstacles, both personally and professionally. After years of perseverance, the translation work was finally completed—the Alune people were to receive God’s Word in their heart language for the very first time. But it wasn’t without its difficulties. Moi was working on transporting the New Testaments to two places for the dedication. On the day he had arranged for a truck to come to the office, he waited the entire day, but the truck never came. Frustrated that the day was not going as planned, Moi’s stress was heightened by the rain that was pouring down, seemingly heedless to his ardent prayers for good weather. The team had spent a lot of time putting the boxes filled with New Testaments into plastic bags, but it was rainy season and the rain just kept coming down. Moi prayed that the rain would stop, but the more he prayed the harder it rained. “Lord, why are you not answering my prayer?” he asked. “You want this to go forward, right? Why is this happening?” Moi was upset because it seemed that God was ignoring his prayers, heedless to the difficulties that they faced with the packing and transporting of the books during the bad weather.
Finally, after hours and hours of waiting, the truck arrived. The team managed to load about 200 boxes filled with 4,300 Alune New Testaments, and Moi left with the truck to the island of Seram. When the truck got off the ferry at Seram, Moi received a text from his wife, Mey, saying, “Do not come to the bridge, because earlier today a big truck broke the bridge and you can’t pass on it. Come on another road.” Immediately, Moi knew that God had been protecting the New Testaments by sending the rain and delaying the truck. “It could have been our truck that broke the bridge, and all the books could have been wet,” Moi said. “Oh, Lord, now I know You had a purpose for delaying the truck. I am sorry that I was upset and didn’t keep trusting you in all circumstances. Thank you, Lord.”
That wasn’t the only difficulty that Moi faced with distribution of the Scriptures. Last August, the translation office was flooded during a storm, bringing mud and water into the rooms until it was waist-deep. The storage room where the Scriptures were kept was also flooded, and thousands of New Testaments were soaked. But even this God used for His good purpose, as people in the neighborhood heard about the Scripture portions and came to the office asking for them. Every last one of the Alune New Testaments that was damaged that day was given away to Alune speakers who took them and laid them out to dry. Praise be to God, who sovereignly fulfills His promise to use all things for the good of those who love Him.
James 1:2–4 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (NLT).
After twenty-six years of trials and perseverance, the Alune people are finally able to hold the finished work of their perseverance—God’s Word in the language of their heart.
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