Sunday, April 1, 2018

Inspired Exhibit

At the end of February I received an email from David Addington, a former boss of mine and dear friend who is also an ardent supporter of Bible translation. He informed me that he would be coming to Port Moresby in March as part of his work with an organization called Inspired Exhibit. With a stunning display of over 100 rare biblical manuscripts and collateral items, the exhibit chronicles the remarkable story of how the very words of God, written with His own finger on tablets at Mt. Sinai—were carefully copied, preserved, and through great toil and sacrifice have come to our generation, languages, and the tablets we now hold in our hands. He invited me to come to Port Moresby to be a part of the initial meetings to bring this exhibit to Papua New Guinea. So I flew down to Port Moresby to be a part of the meetings and met up with David and Dr. Scott Carroll, an expert in ancient documents who has been involved in putting together some of the largest collections of Biblical manuscripts in the world.

Dr. Scott Carroll (left) and David Addington (center) presenting to government officials at the National Parliament. (You don't see me because I am taking the picture.)
It is not uncommon for Papua New Guineans to assume that the Bible was originally written in English and that Christianity originated in English speaking cultures. Similarly, Papua New Guineans often have questions as to why they should trust the Bible. In fact, during a meeting at the Parliament building, the Clerk of Parliament shared that his own children had recently been questioning the reliability of the Bible. But the government officials were quite impressed when Dr. Carroll unrolled a three hundred year old Torah scroll written on calfskin and showed them the ten commandments written in Hebrew. And everyone was in agreement that when Papua New Guineans see even older manuscripts of the Bible and learn about how the biblical text has been transmitted through time, they will gain appreciation for the fact that the Bible is not an English book that originated in English speaking cultures, but that God is a God of all people regardless of a person's ethnic background or language. Similarly, they will see that the Bible has been faithfully preserved throughout history and is a trustworthy and reliable record of God's message for humanity.

Dr. Carroll pointing out the Ten Commandments written on a three hundred year old Torah scroll.
Not only will the Inspired Exhibit teach people about the history of the Bible and its transmission over time, it will also be an opportunity for Papua New Guineans to learn about Bible translation into their own languages today. The exhibit will include a station for people to listen to the Bible in their own languages and download Scripture text and audio in their own languages. Thus, Papua New Guineans from the more than eight hundred language groups in the country will be encouraged to become an ongoing to part of the preservation and transmission of Scripture.

Connecting with church leaders and government officials in Port Moresby.
The exhibit is tentatively scheduled for sometime between March and June 2019 in Port Moresby, Lae, and Mt. Hagen, the latter of which is just a two-hour drive from Enga. Please pray for all the many details to come together for this exhibit to take place, which will be a great boon not only to Bible translation efforts but to the Christian faith here in Papua New Guinea.