Phil Carr, a Wycliffe Bible translator, was standing in the middle of a big logging camp upriver from his village home in Papua New Guinea (PNG). His bare feet had long since disappeared in ‘boots’ of wet sticky clay. On one side of him stood Adau, the leader of the translation team they worked with. On the other side was an old man from a village near the camp, who spoke a language unrelated to Adau’s. His earnestness made it clear that he wanted to talk to Phil about something very important, but they didn’t have a language in common.
After finding a language they both knew, Adau began to translate the old man’s message. The old man said, “I know that you live downriver there to help those people translate the Bible into their language. And I have heard that another Wycliffe couple live way up by the headwaters of our river, and are helping those people up there to translate the Bible into their language. But here in our place, we want the Bible too, and we don’t have anyone to help us do it. Can you tell your bosses to send someone to help us too?”
Before he replied, Phil turned to the two American college students who had come upriver with him. They were with Phil’s team for a month to get a taste of mission life. “Come closer and listen to what I am going to have to tell this old man,” Phil said. “I want you to remember this conversation, and when you get back home, tell the people in your church what you’ve heard.”
I want you to remember this conversation, and when you get back home, tell the people in your church what you’ve heard.
As they moved closer, Phil started to answer him, but he couldn’t help but hang his head as he did so.
“You know there are many, many languages in Papua New Guinea, and to translate the Bible into just one language takes many years of work. We would really like to send someone to help your people translate the Bible too. But we don’t have extra people available. Very few people are coming to Papua New Guinea to help in translation now, and those few have to be shared out not just in this province, but among all of the other provinces too. So I will tell my bosses about your request, but at this time we don’t have enough workers to be able to send someone to your people.” Phil thought to himself, “Truly, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”
It has been over twenty years since that conversation, and still no one has begun a translation project for the Mubami people.
The above request for a translator was from an elderly Mubami man in 1995. It has been over twenty years since that conversation, and still no one has begun a translation project for the Mubami people. By God’s grace, their wait may soon be over. As we mentioned in our February newsletter (http://eepurl.com/bND6tr), we have received an invitation to begin a language project amongst the Mubami people and several smaller nearby language groups, just up river from Phil and his team.
Sadly, the Mubami people are just one of many language groups in PNG that have such a story, so we are still prayerfully considering this invitation as we seek to learn more about the Mubami people and others who need a Bible translation of their own. Will you join us in prayer as we seek the Lord’s will concerning which people group he would have us work amongst?