Sunday, December 1, 2013

Eternity Matters

Recently I (Adam) traveled to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, to meet with Engans who live there. While most Engans live off of the land in bush houses far away from the capital, a select few have the opportunity to live in Port Moresby. Often the Engans in Port Moresby are the ones who have the best education and who work in a business or government setting. Their knowledge of English is quite good, and they will even speak English to one another at times when discussing business matters.

When I met with a small group of recent college graduates, I told them, "Even though you are fluent in English, the Bible doesn't have the same power as it does when you hear it or read it in your own language." Rocklcon Rolan, one of the young men from that group, recently emailed me and said,

"I was so encouraged with what you have said in the meeting. We can read but we don’t understand the content and the scope of the Word itself. That is true and I say amen to that. Thank you for committing your life, risking your family, leaving your comfort zone, leaving behind your races of people, coming into my country, getting right into my province. God Almighty will richly bless you for what you are doing. This is a perfect investment on a proper soil for eternity matters. I love you from the pinnacle of my heart and our Heavenly Father will protect your family while you are [in Enga]."

Rocklcon's email just goes to show that even the Engans who are most fluent in English see a strong need for the Bible in their own language, not to mention those who don't understand any English at all.

The day after I met Rocklcon, I visited a church in Port Moresby attended by about two hundred people (95% of whom are Engans). The pastor asked me to share at the end of the service, and I began by saying, "Nambe Enga piyame latoo kaya," which means, "Let me speak in Enga." As soon as I said that, the church erupted with applause, once again confirming that there is something special about your own language. It is not just the words that you speak but it is who you are. I played a sample of our recently completed draft of the story of Abraham in Enga, and people were already asking when they could get a copy. Again, these are Engans who have a high degree of fluency in English, yet they have an incredible hunger for God's Word in their own language.

Sometimes when people consider the enormity of translating the Bible into another language, they are tempted to say, "Why not just teach people English so they can read the Bible in English?" But the longer I am here, the more convinced I am that everyone deserves the chance to hear the Word of God in their own language. It truly is the only language that will speak to their hearts!

Friday, November 1, 2013

What Does It Really Mean?

While Engans are experts at speaking their own language, sometimes it is a challenge for them to provide clear explanations in English of what individual words actually mean.

“What does ‘endaki pete tombapae’ mean?” I ask one of the Enga translators. “It means ‘well’,” he replies. “OK, so I know that ‘endaki’ means ‘water’ and ‘tombapae’ means something like ‘dug out’, but what does ‘pete’ mean?” I ask. “The whole thing just means ‘well’,” he says again. “Yes, but I need to tell our consultant exactly what each word means in English so that he can check our translation. Doesn’t ‘endaki pete’ mean ‘lake’ when it doesn’t have the word ‘tombapae’ at the end?” I ask. “Yes, that’s right,” the translator replies. “So if ‘endaki’ means ‘water’ then what does ‘pete’ mean in that case?” I ask again. “The two words ‘endaki pete’ just mean lake,” he says. “So ‘endaki pete tombapae’ means ‘dug out lake’?” I ask. “No, it just means ‘well’,” he says.

Welcome to the world of back translation! In order to ensure a good translation that is accurate and faithful to the meaning of the original text of the Bible, one of my (Adam’s) duties as the Enga Bible translation advisor is to write an extremely literal word-for-word translation of our Enga Bible translation back into English. A translation consultant then reads our back translation and compares it with the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible to make sure that we haven’t inadvertently changed the meaning of the text. It is a painstaking process, but it is worth it to ensure that the Word of God is accurately and faithfully communicated to the Enga people.

By the way, if you have any idea of what ‘pete’ might mean, please let us know. Our best guess at this point is ‘hole’, which would mean that a ‘well’ in Enga is literally a ‘dug out water hole’.

The Abraham Story
During our five weeks in Wabag in August and September, we completed a draft of the Abraham story (Genesis 11:27–25:11). After returning to Ukarumpa, Adam and William Walewale, one of the Enga translators (whose daughter is pictured below), recorded the translation and loaded it onto solar-powered MP3 players for testing in Enga villages to ensure that the translation is natural and clear. While the Enga translators tested the translation in villages, Adam prepared the back translation of the story into English for consultant checking. By the end of this month village and consultant checking should be complete, and we will then finalize the story, record the final version, and publish it. In the meantime, we are currently in Wabag for another five weeks working on a draft of the book of Mark, which we hope to complete in early 2014!

Morning in Prayer
While the demands of being a full-time mom have made it difficult for Martha to be actively engaged in the work of language learning and translation at this point in her life, she has felt the Lord directing her to take a leadership role in Ukarumpa’s monthly Morning in Prayer service. Living together with other missionaries during our time in Ukarumpa, we are acutely aware of the need for prayer. As this community steps out in faith to do what God has called us to do, we often feel the spiritual oppression that seeks to oppose everything we do. Martha has seen the effectiveness of prayer in her own life and is convicted by the positive influence of people like her Aunt Ruth Summers who faithfully prays for others every day. As a result, Martha has taken the initiative to ensure that prayer is at the forefront of what we as a missionary community in Papua New Guinea are doing as part of our overall ministry of Bible translation. Please pray for Martha as she continues in this leadership role.

Lives Forever Changed Video
Newbreak Church has completed the first of three videos about our translation work among the Enga people here in Papua New Guinea. Go to to watch the video online. Thank you to Luke Shearer for coming to Papua New Guinea and capturing the heart of what we do!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Anatomy of a Tribal Fight

During our time in Enga Province, eleven houses were burned down in the village of Sakarip, which is where two of the Enga Bible translators live. We took the time to find out the cause of the fighting, and we wanted to share what we discovered with people here in Ukarumpa.

In order to understand the causes of this particular tribal fight, it is first necessary to understand the tribal structure of those involved. The tribal system in Enga is hierarchical. There are roughly 100 large tribes in Enga that are then broken down into sub-tribes, clans, sub-clans, and family lines. The particular tribal fight that was happening during our time in Enga took place within the Potealini tribe. The Potealini tribe can be broken down into the following hierarchy (only lines that are relevant to this fight are shown).

Potealini Tribe
   Komboto Sub-Tribe
      Wambyen Clan
      Pepetae Clan
   Langape Sub-Tribe
      Mupa Clan

During the summer of 2012, Papua New Guinea held its national elections. One of the candidates for the Wabag Open Seat was Paul Pandan, who belongs to the Wambyen clan. Nikolas Mangen, an Engan accountant in Port Moresby, who is a member of the Pepetae clan did not vote for him, even though it is usually expected that a person will support any candidate from his own sub-tribe. A few weeks later, Nikolas Mangen got into an altercation with two men from the Wambyen clan, who killed Nikolas by chopping his head with an axe. The cause of the fight was the fact that Nikolas did not vote for Paul Pandan, who was the Komboto candidate. At least some of the men were drinking, which contributed to the fight.

In accordance with Engan custom, the members of the Wambyen clan began to pay compensation to the Pepetae clan because of the murder of Nikolas Mangen. This willingness to pay compensation paved the way for peace between the two clans for a year. After a year, however, some Wambyen men, who had been drinking, went into Pepetae territory and stirred up trouble by saying things to provoke the Pepetae sub-clan to fight. When the Wambyen men left, the Pepetae were so enraged that they pursued the Wambyen men and killed one of them.

At that point, the Wambyen declared war on the Pepetae, and all of the people from each clan fled into neighboring sub-tribes to seek refuge, particularly the women and children. Some of the Pepetae sought refuge among the Langape sub-tribe, who live immediately to the east. The village right on the border of the Pepetae territory, is Sakarip, which is where two of the Enga Bible translators live. In particular, Sakarip is where people of the Mupa clan live.

As the war between the Pepetae and Wambyen went on, the Pepetae proved themselves to be superior fighters. killing 6 Wambyen men. It appeared that the Pepetae had won and the Wambyen had lost, and so there was a period of peace. After a couple of weeks, however, a Pepetae man was killed when he was alone in a field and the fight erupted again.

The Wambyen later discovered that two young men from the Mupa clan were assisting the Pepetae in the war. As a result, the Wambyen came into Sakarip and burned down the houses of the closest relatives of the two young men. In all, eleven houses in Sakarip were burned down, and at least seven pigs (which are highly valuable pieces of property in Enga) were stolen. As a result all of the women and children left Sakarip and sought refuge with neighboring clans in other areas.

Now at the same time a man of influence who sympathized with the Wambyen has supplied ammunition, machine guns, and mercenaries who are skilled in operating machine guns. The Pepetae see that they are now outmatched, and they have fled even farther away. However, the mercernaries are still roaming through Sakarip with machine guns, especially at night, looking for enemies from the Pepetae clan. This was the state of affairs when we left on September 10.

When we visited Sakarip after the houses had been burned, it was clear that people did not have much time to flee. As we looked through the charred remains, we found charred school books, lanterns, cooking utensils, and even a metal bed frame. Other signs of the war were evident. Just across the Lai River in Pepetae territory we could see dozens of trees that had no bark at the base. The Wambyen had removed the bark to kills the trees, which is another tactic of tribal warfare. By killing the trees, the Wambyen make it difficult for the Pepetae to have a supply of wood for fires or for building new homes.

On the day when the houses in Sakarip were burned down, Maniosa Yakasa, one of the Enga Bible translators, was driving from Wabag town, where we work, back to Sakarip (a 20-minute drive) to drop off his family. He was stopped by a police officer, who told him that there was fighting going on in Sakarip and that he could not continue. Maniosa came back to Wabag town, and he continued working on the translation without a break. Ruben Yonasa, the other translator from Sakarip, although visibly shaken, also continued in the translation work. Both of their homes were spared although seven of Maniosa's pigs were killed and two bush material houses on his property were burned down. Maniosa and Ruben are still sleeping in Sakarip, but their families have fled and are now also living as refugees in other villages.

Unfortunately this scenario is not an isolated incident in Enga Province. This sort of fighting happens all over the province all of the time. This is one of the reasons why the Enga people so desperately need the Bible in their own language. They are stuck in a cycle of violence, and they don't realize that there is another way based on love and forgiveness.

Please pray for the fighting to cease and for God to speed our translation work so that people can be exposed to another way of living that doesn't involve fighting. The message is not getting through in English and Tok Pisin.

Please note that we were not living in the area where this fighting was happening. We were living in the town of Wabag, which was safely removed from the fighting.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Translation Has Begun

"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go the land I will show you." These are the words that the Lord spoke to Abraham in Genesis 12:1, the very first verse we translated after coming here to Enga Province. As I (Adam) consider this verse, I realize that it is not only Abraham's story, but also our own. Just as God called Abraham, God called us to leave our country, friends, and family, and go to a place that He would show us. That was nearly four years ago. Now, that vision and dream has become a reality, and we are making steady progress on translating the story of Abraham into Enga. In fact, by the time we head back to Ukarumpa on September 10, we should have the story of Abraham just about ready for the translation team to test in their villages. God is good!

As I read Genesis 12:1 in Enga, I am surprised at how clear it sounds to me now, especially when I consider the literal back translation into English, which reads,

Lord Abram telling, "You of tribe and land and those leaving, I you land a show I will do that to go."

Enga sounded so backwards and foreign at first, but now a sentence Genesis 12:1 sounds quite natural. We are so thankful that God has given us all the tools and resources we have needed to get to this point, and we rest confident that He will continue to do so. We give him praise on this momentous occasion of actually beginning the work that we have spent so much time and energy preparing for.

Enga Cultural Show
The day after our arrival here in Enga, we had an opportunity to take the kids to the annual Enga Cultural Show. There were various groups from all over Enga Province who dressed in traditional clothing as they performed traditional songs and dances. People also did demonstrations of traditional ways of life including building houses and bridges from bush materials, making traditional wigs out of human hair, making stone axes, and even shouting messages just like they did long ago. In fact at one point, when one of the demonstrators say me, he started yelling out in Enga, "Kone epelyamo-ooo. Kone epelyamo-ooo. Ip-ooo. Ip-ooo." What he said was, "A white man is coming! A white man is coming! Come and see! Come and see!" This is exactly what people would yell out when foreigners with white skin first started coming to Enga Province. (In fact even today I often hear people saying the same sort of thing when I walk around town although they don't yell it out for all to hear like they did in times past.) Overall the show was quite an experience for the kids, who were often just as much of a spectacle as the performers since people almost never see foreign children in Enga Province.

Thank You
As we celebrate the beginning of our translation work, we want to take a moment to thank all of our faithful supporters. We could not do this without your prayers and support. You are a wonderful part of this great work that God is doing here among the Enga people of Papua New Guinea. Thank you!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The God Sacrifice

Papua New Guineans often talk about how God was in Papua New Guinea before any missionaries came. Enga is no exception, and God was literally in Enga for generations before the first contact with Christian missionaries.

When the Apostle Paul visited Athens, he found an altar with an inscription that said, “To An Unknown God” (Acts 17:23). Generations before the first missionaries came to Enga, the people of Enga also offered sacrifices to an unknown god.

In traditional Engan culture, most spirits were considered evil. However, during difficult times such as a draught or famine, some Engans would perform a ceremony called gote pingi, which literally means “doing god” or “doing the god sacrifice”. Men would go to a mountaintop and divide up a small piece of ground into sections. Each man would then steam-cook food in his section of ground using heated stones and leaves. While the food was cooking the men would go away.

Aipinimanda, the mountaintop where Engan
men did the god sacrifice (gote pingi).
By cooking the food on top of the mountain, the men attempted to please an unknown spirit or god with the aroma of the food. Their hope was that this unknown god would in turn bless them and help them through whatever challenges they were facing. When the men returned, they would look for signs in their section of ground to see if this unknown god had answered. If a man found a centipede, for example, it meant that he would have many children. If he found a snake, however, it meant that he would die soon.

When missionaries first came to Enga and spoke about God, the people of Enga were able to make a connection between the unknown spirit to whom they had been offering sacrifices and the God of the Bible. Over time, they began to learn that it wasn’t the aroma of their food, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that paved the way for God’s blessings.

Bible Translation Work Has Begun
In May, the Enga translation team completed five weeks of training. This culminated in a large parade and celebration in Wabag town to launch the Enga Bible translation project. The Enga Bible translation team is now busy drafting a translation of Genesis, chapters 12 through 21. This portion of the Bible is their assigned homework from the translation training they received, and it will give them a good opportunity to apply the skills that they have learned. Next week we are planning on returning to Enga for an extended stay to check and revise the translation draft of Genesis 12-21 and begin work on translating the book of Mark. After nearly four years of planning and preparation, it is exciting that the translation work is underway! Our hope is to finish the book of Mark in 2014 and distribute it in print and audio format to raise awareness for the project.

Adam's family visiting the people of Sakarip
in Enga Province.
Boyd Family Visit
We were wonderfully blessed to have Adam’s father, mother, sister, and niece visit for a few weeks in June and July. The highlight of the trip was visiting Enga Province, which required a ten-hour bumpy ride over the Highlands Highway with nine of us squeezed into a Land Cruiser. Adam’s family was amazed at the friendliness and hospitality of the Enga people. They had the opportunity to experience a mumu, which is a traditional way of steam-cooking food by placing heated stones in the ground, covering them with leaves, placing the food on the leaves, covering the food with more leaves, and then putting dirt on top to keep the heat inside. The Enga people were incredibly touched that Adam’s family would travel so far to visit them. Adam’s father was asked to speak at three different gatherings, and each time he shared with the people about God’s love. He told them that even though we live so far away and come from such different cultures that we are all part of God’s family.

InFocus Newsletter
A story from one of our previous updates about our time in the village of Immi was published in June in Wycliffe USA’s bimonthly newsletter InFocus. This newsletter is sent to the financial partners of Wycliffe. Click here to read more about it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Enga Bible Translation Launch

"Rata tat tat…rata tat tat…rata tat tat…" We heard the drumming as the boys marched down the street to escort us to the launching of the Enga Bible Translation Project. I (Adam) along with two representatives from Newbreak Church in San Diego and two other expats watched in silent awe as the boys marched down the alley to the guest house where we were staying. A now growing crowd watched as they performed for us and then led us into the streets of Wabag town. As we turned a corner to enter the main part of town, we saw a line of ladies in ceremonial dress singing and dancing while rhythmically beating kundu drums.

As we waited for the parade to continue, church leaders from all of the denominations in Enga Province started falling in line behind us until there were more than a hundred people in the parade. After all of the churches arrived and took their place, we began marching through the heart of Wabag town with literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people looking on. As we walked I heard one of the pastors telling everyone in the crowds that all of the churches were partnering together to translate the Bible into Enga.

The parade led to a field in the center of town to a large stage that looked like an open house built on stilts. About fifty of us went on to the stage including the translation team and pastors from the various churches. After a time of worship, I was asked to get up and speak. I began telling the crowd a little bit about our story…in Enga. "We came to Papua New Guinea last year," I began only to be interrupted by thunderous applause. "Then we went to Madang to learn Tok Pisin" (more thunderous applause). The people were so excited to hear a foreigner speaking in Enga that they could barely contain their applause with each sentence I spoke. I kept it short and sweet (which was all that I could handle in Enga) and made a few remarks in Tok Pisin to introduce our visitors from Newbreak Church who had traveled all the way from America to take part in this celebration.

After some more speeches, I had the opportunity to play an audio recording of the story of when God tested Abraham (Gen 22:1-19). This was the story that we had translated during the five weeks of translator training that I had just completed along with a team of nine Enga speakers. It was the first time anybody had ever heard this story in Enga. I watched as people in the crowds nodded their heads up and down with a look of excited anticipation. The Word of God was so clear to them as they heard it in their own language. It was like they were sitting around the fire at night and hearing a story.

After the celebration, the church leaders gathered for a meal. One of the leaders stood up and said that the Enga people themselves needed to support this work financially, and he pledged 500 kina ($250) from his own church. Six or seven others stood up to make pledges, and by the time all was said and done, 2,700 kina ($1,350) had been pledged. That is equal to one person's average annual income here in Papua New Guinea. The overall cost of the work is far greater than what was pledged, but the desire of the churches to be involved financially shows just how much they value having the Word of God in their own language.

When the Enga Bible Translation Board told me that they were planning a celebration to launch the Enga Bible translation project, I was expecting a small gathering of fifty people. I was blown away by the parade through town that infinitely exceeded my expectations. I realized that this project is much bigger than the Boyd family or even the translation team. The Bible in Enga is something that God is very clearly orchestrating, and we are blessed that God has allowed us to be a part of what He is doing.

We would like to extend a special thanks to Dan Lamborn and Luke Shearer from Newbreak Church in San Diego for coming to Papua New Guinea to be a part of the Enga Bible translation launch. We also extend our heartfelt thanks to all of the folks at Newbreak Church who funded the five-week Translators' Training Course.

If you would like to listen to the story of when God tested Abraham in Enga, please click here.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Translator Training

Greetings from the town of Wabag, where just yesterday we officially launched the Enga Bible translation project (more about that next month)!

Over the past five weeks, we have been working with nine Enga speakers from five different denominations to learn about translation methods and principles. In practice work, we encountered challenges like how to translate 'the sea was rough' and 'he paddled a canoe'. These are foreign concepts since the Enga people live nowhere near the ocean and rarely ever see a canoe. After long discussions, we settled on 'the sea flopped around' (the same verb is used to describe what a fish out of water does) and 'he drove (literally: rope held) a ship'. The latter translation is based on the Engan practice of tying a rope to a fallen tree to drag (or drive) it to another location. The person holding the rope is the one who is 'driving' or 'steering' the tree. Enga people use the borrowed word 'ship' for any form of water transportation.

The Engan trainees enjoyed discovering their own language. While they are masters of speaking their own language, they have never really studied it before to determine what all of the little bits and pieces of their language mean. As they began considering the literal English translations of their language, they would laugh. They never realized just how different Enga is from English. Consider for example, the Enga translation of Genesis 22:2. The NIV Bible reads:

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

The literal word-for-word Enga translation reads:

That after God speaking sitting, "Your son one only, Isaac, you love feeling that one taking Moriah land the to go. Having gone he sacrifice becoming burning let him be consumed by fire saying mountain a I show will do the on cook," said.

Or to put it in standard English grammar (which still sounds awkward):

After that, God while (literally: sitting) speaking said, "Taking your one [and] only son Isaac, that one, go to the land [of] Moriah. Having gone, [on] a mountain I will show [you], at that [place], cook [him] saying, 'burning [and] becoming [a] sacrifice, let him be consumed by fire."

As you can see, translation work is not easy! Please pray for us as we begin work on the Enga New Testament over the coming months, and praise God that the Enga Bible translation project is now officially underway!

To view a video of some highlights of the five-week Translators' Training Course, please click here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Can Anything Good Come From Immi?

In the book of John, when Nathanael heard where Jesus was from he asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” The Lord laid a similar question on our hearts during our time in the village of Immi.

"Can anything good come from Immi?” That is the question the Lord laid on my (Adam’s) heart one Sunday afternoon during our time in the village. Nathanael had asked a similar question when he heard where Jesus was from. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” he asked. Surely the Messiah should come from a better place than that!

Immi is considered to be one of the worst villages in Enga Province, and the Engan people are one of the most feared and disliked people groups in all of Papua New Guinea. So there is not much of an expectation that anything good would ever come out of Immi. In Tok Pisin they would call it a ‘rubis ples’, which means ‘rubbish place’.

Yet the Lord gave me an opportunity to speak in the Immi Assembly of God Church on two occasions and share what He had laid on my heart to encourage them. I told the people that, just like Immi, Nazareth was considered a ‘rubbish place’, where nothing good ever happened. Yet just as God brought up the Savior of the world from Nazareth, God wants to bring up pastors and Christian leaders from Immi. I told the people that God wants to change Immi from a place where nothing good ever happens to a model village, where people live lives of love and forgiveness based on God’s Word.

On the occasions I had to preach in Immi and in Wabag town, we saw seven people respond to an invitation to give their lives to Christ, and I believe many more felt the tug of the Holy Spirit upon their hearts. And when the people have access to God’s Word in Enga, I know that God is going to continue to transform Immi, and all of Enga, into a place where good things happen!

A look at what we have been doing since our time in the village of Immi...

Language Learning
During our time in the village of Immi, we didn’t have any formal language learning sessions, yet we were learning all the time. In particular, a man named Sai came almost everyday to just sit and talk with us, and he almost always spoke to us in Enga. By the end of our five weeks, I (Adam) could understand most of what Sai said because he very patiently spoke slowly and clearly for me. Since returning to Ukarumpa, I have been able to build upon my informal learning from the village and make substantial progress toward understanding how Enga verbs are conjugated and how the syntax (or sentence structure) works.

Lae Regional Center Managers
Because we are new members of Wycliffe/SIL in Papua New Guinea, we were not able to vote at the biannual conference held in March. Instead, we managed the regional center in the coastal city of Lae for three weeks during the conference. As temporary managers we did not have a lot of duties, and so most of Adam’s time was spent on language learning. We enjoyed being in a bigger city where we could actually go to a sit-down restaurant and buy all sorts of western items at the grocery store! Yet on the trip back home, one of our greatest fears was realized when the Lae center pickup truck that we were driving back to Ukarumpa broke down in the middle of nowhere. We were stranded on the side of the road for three and a half hours before missionaries from the Ukarumpa Auto Shop came to rescue us. Praise God that a local man who sold diesel in a little roadside hut took care of us and even provided us some fresh coconuts so that we could stay hydrated in a very hot place!

Translators’ Training Course
We are now in the second week of the five-week long Translators’ Training Course (TTC). We have a team of nine Enga speakers participating in this training, where they are acquiring the basic tools and skills they need to translate the Bible. It is one of the largest groups ever to complete TTC. Adam is mentoring half of the group while Martha and Maniosa Yakasa (the lead Enga translator) are mentoring the other half. Please pray that the the trainees will be well-equipped to translate the Word of God into the Enga language.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Choosing Forgiveness

"I was just a little boy when they killed my father," Max told me during our five-week stay in the village of Immi. When I asked Max how old he was when his father was killed, he said that he wasn't sure. He doesn't know the date of his birth. All he knows is that he was about the age of our oldest son Jacob (who is seven) when his father was killed in 2000 during tribal fighting. That would mean that Max is now about 20 years old. According to traditional customs, Max now has the "right" to exact revenge upon the tribe who killed his father, and because he is such a big, strong, young man, those people are very much afraid of him.

Max, however, is a Christian. And as a Christian, he has forfeited his "right" to get revenge upon the people who killed his father. Instead, when he has seen people from that tribe out in the marketplace he has given them food as a way to let them know that he is not going to pay them back for what they did to his father. In Papua New Guinea, and especially among the Engan people, payback killings are a way of life, and so it is extremely rare for a person to forgive rather than to get revenge. But Max understands that revenge is not a "right" but a sin, and that it is his duty as a Christian to love and pray for his enemies.

Max became one of our closest friends during our five weeks in Immi. We saw him nearly every day, and we shared life together eating sweet potato, learning Enga, going on walks, and even going spear fishing. Max felt personally responsible for ensuring that we were safe during our time in Immi and would sometimes sleep outside of our house at night to make sure nothing happened.

Max is one of the few people in Immi who has had the opportunity to go to school and learn English. He dreams of one day becoming a pastor, and is trusting God to provide finances for him to finish his education. And so on our last Sunday in Immi, we were able to honor Max in front of the Immi Assembly of God Church and present him with an English Bible. It will be a challenge for him to understand it well because English is not his first language, but it is a start. I look forward to the day when I can present him with the Enga New Testament!

If you would like to hear Max sing an Enga worship song that he wrote, please click here. It is called Jisasa Epea, which means Jesus Came.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Warrior Turned Preacher

During our five weeks in the village of Immi, we met a man whose story helped us understand just how desperately the people of Enga need the Word of God in their own language. (For a lighter video of our five weeks in Immi, please click here.

I liked Joseph (not his real name) as soon as I met him. He came across as kind, quiet, gentle, respectful, and polite. Anytime we needed anything, he was always ready to help us. He quickly became one of our friends, and he always spoke to us in Enga. Yet he spoke slowly so that we could understand, and he always patiently listened and helped me (Adam) as I responded to him in my broken Enga.

Because of Joseph's personality, I was a bit shocked one day as we rode a bus into town and he pointed out to me villages in neighboring tribes that he had burned to the ground. From 1972 until 2005, Immi had been plagued by tribal fighting, and we came to discover that Joseph was their best warrior who had killed many people among their enemies. In Engan terms, he was "a cassowary" who always went to the "teeth of the fight" (or a hero who always fought on the front lines). He was even hired out across the province as a mercenary to fight battles for other tribes. Somehow during all of those years of fighting, Joseph was one of the few men from Immi who was not killed.

Then three years ago, when Darren Terros came to pastor the Assembly of God Church in Immi, Joseph began turning his life over to Christ. Pastor Darren is a well-educated man who could have chosen many more desirable church locations to become a pastor. But he felt the Lord leading him to Immi. On his first Sunday as pastor, there was only a small handful of people in attendance and the total offering was just eight toea (forty cents). Nevertheless, Pastor Darren served where he felt the Lord was calling him and began reaching out to people like Joseph. Now Joseph is one of the leaders of the Immi Assembly of God Church and is currently serving as the Assistant Pastor.

On our last Sunday in Immi, I had the privilege of presenting gifts to three of the men who had helped us, looked out for us, and become our good friends. Joseph was one of the three. I presented each one of them an axe or machete and a Bible. First I asked them to hold up the axe or machete. Then I addressed the entire congregation and said, "Before, your lives were based on weapons like these and you used them to kill and destroy." Then I had the three men hold up their Bibles and I said to the congregation, "Now your lives are based on the Word of God, and these axes and machetes that you used to use to kill and destroy will now be used to build new houses and build a new life based on the Word of God."

Joseph had never owned a Bible before. Because there is no Enga Bible yet, I gave him a Tok Pisin Bible instead. He can barely read it. He reads one word at a time with a long pause between each word as he tries to make out the next word. What he really needs is an audio recording of the Bible in Enga, which of course does not exist yet. Nevertheless, after the presentation he went to the pulpit to say a few words. As he tried to speak, tears came streaming down his face as he clutched his Bible and kept staring down at it. He had difficulty speaking because of the emotion he felt. It was evident that God was truly at work in his life. I felt incredibly privileged to be able to encourage him and to witness this moment in his life.

On the last day of our five weeks in Immi, Joseph accompanied us to the Wapenamanda airstrip to say goodbye. As we were riding in the car, he and some of the other men pointed out places along the road where fighting had happened and where people had been killed. Then as we passed a prominent Christian international school, Joseph told us that he had once burned down the school's administrative offices and had also at that time been planning on killing a couple of American students at the school.

I turned my head away and pretended not to understand what I was hearing. I felt anger welling up inside of me. It's one thing to burn down the houses of your enemies, but why in the world would you burn down the office complex of one of the best schools in the province and try to kill innocent children. I had heard on our previous trip to Enga about the school's offices being burned down. It was a very big deal when it happened. I couldn't believe that the man who did it was sitting in the car with me and had become one of my good friends. I wanted to lash out and say, "What did that school ever do to you that made you want to burn it down?" but I held my tongue and sought wisdom from the Lord as to how to respond.

Before long Pastor Darren, who was also in the car (and who was also very angry to learn about this), tried to help me understand the mindset of people like Joseph before he knew Christ. They knew nothing about God, and they had been around fighting all of their lives. They viewed tribal fighting much in the same way that Americans view war. In a war, you destroy any resources of the enemy that provide aid to the enemy. The school provided jobs for the neighboring tribe, including income that could be used to buy guns and bullets. Plus the school brought prestige to the tribe and the possibility of other development projects in the future. So in the pre-Christian Enga mindset, the obvious thing to do if you are at war is to burn down that resource so that it can no longer aid the enemy.

It was easy for me to overlook Joseph's past wrongs when I thought he was just burning down the bush houses of his enemies, but now I was truly conflicted in my spirit about how I should respond. But I slowly realized that when Christ died on the cross, he died for ALL of our sins, even the most heinous crimes, and that I too must forgive Joseph and embrace him as the brother in Christ that he had now become. So as we said our final goodbyes, I gave Joseph a hug as a way to let him (and myself) know that I cared for him and accepted him despite anything he had done in his past.

But Joseph is just one man among the more than 300,000 people in Enga province. How many more are out there who still know nothing about God and who continue to fight because it is the only way they know? How many more like Joseph struggle to read and understand God's Word in Tok Pisin? How many more lives would be changed if everyone had access to an audio recording of the Word of God in Enga? The need for the Word of God in Enga cannot be understated!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Seven Ways to Say 'Is'

The Enga language is very challenging for English speakers to learn. One of the biggest challenges is figuring out which of the seven words for ‘is’ to use in any given situation.

Greetings from the village of Immi in Enga Province, Papua New Guinea! We are nearing the end of our five-week stay here, and we have enjoyed the opportunity to really dive in to learning the language and culture of Enga.

One of the most challenging aspects of the Enga language to master has been the word ‘is’. You would think such a basic word would be easy, but we have discovered that there are seven ways to say ‘is’, which is based on how Engan people perceive different beings and things.

For example, if you want to say, “A man is outside,” you must say, “A man standsoutside.” But if you want to say, “A woman is outside,” you must say, “A woman sitsoutside.” That is because in Engan culture men are usually standing and women are usually sitting. If you want to say, “A baby is outside,” you must say, “A baby liesoutside.” Of course babies are usually lying down.

If you want to say, “There is a river,” you must say, “A river comes.” To say, “There are mushrooms in the forest,” you would say, “Mushrooms hang in the forest.” To say, “There are clouds in the sky,” you use the same Enga word that means ‘to hear’. (I haven’t figured that one out yet!) Finally, to describe the existence of body parts, you use the word that means ‘to carry’.

Now to make matters worse, if you want to say, “There is a woman,” and you see that she is actually standing and not sitting, then you can’t say, “A woman sits.” You must say, “A woman stands.”

It is clear that the Engan people perceive the world differently than we do, but we rejoice that God can use those differences to make His Word become alive for all!

I have encountered similar reactions all over town whenever I speak in Enga. When I stop to speak with someone in town, I soon have a crowd of people around me who are fascinated to hear a ‘kone’ speaking Enga! People have literally squealed with joy at hearing me speak Enga!

The reactions are not the same when we speak in Tok Pisin, which is the main trade language of Papua New Guinea. Many foreigners can speak Tok Pisin. But there are few foreigners that take the time to learn Enga!

Now, if people get that excited to hear a ‘kone’ speaking a few words of broken Enga, imagine how excited they will be to hear the very word of God in Enga! Learning someone’s language tells them that you value them, and I believe that when people hear the Word of God in their own language, they will experience the love of God in a unique and powerful way!

A look at some other ways in which the Enga language differs significantly from English...

I (Adam) was sitting with Ruben, my language guide, one day when I heard pigs squealing. So I said, “Mena dupa kaa lelyamino” (The pigs are squealing). I was surprised when he corrected me and said, “Mena dupa kaa lalumino” (I sense that the pigs are squealing). Because I could not actually see the pigs, I could not plainly state that pigs were squealing. Rather, I had to use a form of the verb indicating that I sensed (in this case by hearing) that pigs were squealing. Engan culture must value the difference between eye-witness testimony and hearsay!

There is no single word in Enga for the English word ‘want’. In order to say, “I want to go home,” you would say, “Namba andaka patoo lao masilyo,” which literally means, “I am thinking, saying, ‘Let me go home.’” Now if you want to say, “He wants to go home,” you would not say, “He is thinking, saying, ‘Let him go home.’” Instead you would say, “He is thinking, saying, ‘Let me go home.’” So it is like you are describing the thoughts that he is saying to himself in his mind.

We commonly think of the English language as having three tenses: past, present, and future. Enga has six tenses: far past, near past, immediate past, present, immediate future, and far future. So if you wanted to say, “I went home,” the verb form you would use would depend on whether you went home earlier that same day, the day before, or two days before. Similarly, if you wanted to say, “I will go home,” the verb form you would use would depend on whether you were going home that same day or the next day.

What's next?
We return to Ukarumpa in the Eastern Highlands Province on February 12. After three weeks in Ukarumpa, we will spend three weeks in Lae fulfilling a group service requirement. After returning to Ukarumpa again in April, we will mentor a team of Engans who will spend five weeks completing the annual Translators’ Training Course (thanks to a generous donation from Newbreak Church in San Diego). Following this training, we will begin translating the New Testament into the central dialect of Enga, beginning (most likely) with the book of Mark!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Year in Papua New Guinea

"We just have to make it through the first year, and then everything will be better," I kept telling myself and Martha throughout this past year. Despite all of the excitement of traveling to a distant land, discovering new cultures, and being right in the center of God's will for our lives, there have been many times when we have struggled with culture shock and the reality of being so far away from our friends and family. I (Adam) remember, shortly after arriving in Ukarumpa in May, having a severe panic attack as the reality of a long-term commitment thousands of miles from home finally began to sink in. There were a few days when it was hard to even get out of bed. The reality hit Martha earlier while we were still in Madang completing our training. She was devastated by the fact that she had missed seeing the birth of her niece by just a few weeks. During that time, all she could do was think about when we could leave Papua New Guinea and escape on a family vacation somewhere else. Sometimes it felt as if we had died and would never see or talk to anyone back home ever again.

At my lowest point, I (Adam) had to go to a graduation ceremony for the translation training I was helping with at the time. The emotional pain I felt at that time was so severe that I could barely hold in my tears as I was sitting through the ceremony. But then a man began leading worship in Tok Pisin. We sang simple songs of praise, and God allowed the tears to flow. They were good tears, and God reminded me of why I was in Papua New Guinea to begin with. From that point forward, God slowly brought healing to my heart and helped me overcome the emotional challenges of leaving everything we had and everything we knew and coming to a completely foreign country and culture.

But God has not worked alone, He has used all of you. We have been amazed at the outpouring of love and encouragement from our friends and family! Knowing that we are not alone and that there are people back home praying for us every day, sending us notes of encouragement, putting together care packages, sending pictures, and supporting our work has made all of the difference in the world! God has used and continues to use all of you to help us, especially when we go through times of difficulty.

It is easy to praise God for the many exciting and wonderful things that have happened over the past year. It is more difficult to be thankful in the midst of the loss and suffering we have felt at times. But God has proven faithful. He has seen us through our first year in Papua New Guinea, and we are overjoyed about the bright prospects that lie ahead for helping people receive the Word of God in Enga. We are committed to this work. In fact, knowing we are committed for the long-term is what makes it so hard sometimes because we know we can't just back out if things are difficult or if we are feeling homesick.

After a year in Papua New Guinea, we are actually doing quite well. We miss our friends and family in America, but we are also beginning to feel like this is our home too. We dream about going home on furlough one day, but we appreciate many things here that we don't have in America. In short, we are adjusting to and accepting life here, realizing that there are many things we enjoy about Papua New Guinea even while there are things we miss from home. And that is OK!

"So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
- 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)

To view a short video of pictures from our first year in Papua New Guinea please click here.