Bread for the World: Translating Eternal Truth
In 2014 we began the work of translating God’s Word into the Kamea language. Before then it took six years here in PNG to learn much of the language and culture in order to even begin to faithfully communicate the Word into a context far removed from that of the writers in both Testaments.
God provided two special Kamea brothers-in-Christ who are responsible for the bulk of the Kamea translation work. Pastor Ben and Yali are my friends, my fellow-Christians, and my fellow-laborers in bringing “God’s Talk” into their heart language. The progress we have made to date is more to their credit than it is to mine. I could study this beautiful language for 10 more years and still not glean all the rich words they bring to the translation desk.
We began the translation at first as a supplement to our production of a video based on “The Jesus Film.” By the end of 2014 we had produced the video, the first ever video in our tribal language, and since then it has been copied and distributed and re-distributed throughout the region (plus being available online here). At Kunai Health Centre the video plays daily as patients wait to be treated, allowing them to hear God’s Word in their heart language while seeing for themselves the geographic and historical context of Jesus’ life and times. After a vivid segment on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, the video concludes with an invitation to turn to Christ alone for salvation. It has been an effective tool in sowing the seed of the Word in literally thousands of hearts over the last four years. (See an interview here with Ben and me from a few years ago, regarding how we made the video.)
To date, Ben, Yali, and I have completed Mark, Luke, Acts, Galatians, Titus, Philemon, James, 1 Peter, and 1,2,3 John. We are nearly finished with Matthew, and at Ben and Yali’s request, we are beginning a revision of Luke before proceeding to the other books of the New Testament. You might ask, “why?” The reason is that every day we hear the video we produced from Luke’s Gospel echoing across the mission campus from the clinic. These men have gained enough experience in translation since 2014 that they themselves realize that we need to correct things in that early translation. And I agree; all of us have learned much about translating the Word since then.
Translation of the Word into English has come a long way from John Wycliffe’s work in 1380. Translation of the Word into tribal languages still has a long way to go. Thousands of languages still do not have one jot or tittle of God’s Word in their own mother tongue.
We get the privilege to see peoples’ eyes light up when they hear God’s Word in their own language for the first time. We get even more excited when we see that very Word do a work in their hearts. Thank you for your part in helping us to do it!
People need the Lord. To know the Lord, they must hear His Word. To hear His Word, someone must tell them, or they must read it themselves. And if His Word doesn’t exist in the language they understand, how shall they come to know Him?
It is not an easy task, it is not a short-term task, and it is not a task for unclean hands and an unholy heart. People are waiting to hear; what are you and I doing to get the Word to them?
All glory to Christ,
John & Lena Allen
2 Thessalonians 3:1
Here are a few photos illustrating Bible translation and printing; we look forward to adding the Kamea New Testament to this history!