"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.