A Greatly Anticipated Day for the Malê
“Jesus Himself has come,” sang the Malê people of Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea, as they received the New Testament in their own language. The village of Yemli, which sits high on a ridge in the mountains of the Morobe Province, was the site of the three-day celebration beginning on 11 December 2010.
U.S Deputy Ambassador Paul Berg was among the special guests attending who spoke to the almost 800 people at the dedication. “This is a wonderful day—a blessed day,” Berg told the crowd. “All of you who worked on this project have my deep respect.” Of SIL Papua New Guinea Berg commented, “SIL does incredible work here. They are saving souls and saving the cultures of PNG.”
Also on hand to address the crowd on Saturday was the Governor of Morobe Province, Luther Wenge. “The Bible in your language has meaning and weight. God’s wisdom is inside it. All good things are inside it. Get a Bible and read it,” Wenge said.
Representative David Lini Siba, a Malê speaker, told the crowd, “This is a miracle for the Malê people. After 34 years we now have the Bible in our language and we can understand it.”
Sharing in the celebration were representatives from the Papua New Guinea Bible Translation Association (BTA), Steven Ttopo’ogo and Board member Dominik Sebung, who spoke to the crowd in Yamap, a dialect close to Malê.
The celebration began with a procession through the village led by singsing groups in traditional dress, singing in Malê and Tok PIsin. Besides the speeches and music, there were times of praise and worship. A worship service was led by the Rev. Don B. Muhuyupe who represented the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea. After the evening services the JESUS video, which had been dubbed into the Malê language, was shown.
SIL has supported the Malê translation from the beginning. Director of Support Services Jerry Walker presented official certificates to all the translators and encouraged the people to not let their New Testaments sit around and collect dust. “You must learn to use it. It can change your life.”
Linguist Marguerite Muzzey (USA) started working with the Malê people in 1976. Then in 1992 John and Amy Lindstrom, also from the USA and in connection with SIL, continued the project after Muzzey’s departure and in conjunction with several of the Malê translators.
One of those men was Elisa Kipuctung, who worked on the translation for most of the 34 years. He was also the main organizer of the three-day event. “Elisa has a real heart for the Malê people and is committed to ministry,” said Lindstrom.
Other key Malê men who worked on the translation were Tengeng Kali and Kelopas Kipuctung. Two other Malê men, Maluku Aindek and Silingwaga Kipuctung, also helped for many years, but sadly died before the New Testament was completed.
Nine special guests from the USA also attended the celebration. Faith Community Church of Hudson, Wisconsin, funded the printing of the New Testament and Pastor Larry Szyman said, “It was our privilege to pay for the printing. We are just so honored to be here. I love seeing what God’s done here.”
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奉獻禮上，代表美國的大使伯格（Paul Berg）是向接近八百人演講的特別嘉賓之一。伯格對群眾說：「這是個叫人驚歎又充滿祝福的日子。我要向所有參與譯經計劃的人深深致敬。」伯格對巴布亞新畿內亞的世界少數民族語文研究院（SIL International，以下簡稱SIL）*有這樣的評價：「他們在這裏做了驚人之舉，不但拯救了許多靈魂，也拯救了巴布亞新畿內亞的文化。」
馬萊族代表利尼西巴（David Lini Siba）對群眾說：「經過三十四年，我們終於有自己的母語聖經，使我們可以用自己能夠明白的語言去明白神的話語，這對我們整個馬萊族來說真是個神蹟。」
在奉獻禮上分享的還有巴布亞新畿內亞聖經翻譯會 （Papua New Guinea Bible Translation Association）的代表圖波奧（Steven Ttopo’ogo），和董事會成員西邦（Dominik Sebung）。他們用一種接近馬萊語的方語 ── 楊普語（Yamap）跟群眾分享。
奉獻禮開始，先有身穿傳統服裝的歌唱隊以列隊巡遊的方式穿越村莊，用馬萊語和托克皮辛語（Tok Plsin）唱歌。奉獻禮除了有演講與音樂的播放外，也有敬拜讚美的環節，由巴布亞新畿內亞信義會（Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea）的穆胡約牧師（Rev. Don B. Muhuyupe）主領。崇拜結束後，大會播放以馬萊語製作的《耶穌傳》影片。
1976年，美國語言學家瑪齊（Marguerite Muzzey）開始與馬萊人合作。1992年，同樣來自美國、SIL的連約翰與艾美（John and Amy Lindstrom）前來接續瑪齊離開後的工作，與幾位馬萊族母語譯經員繼續這個譯經計劃。
基普利（Elisa Kipuctung）是其中一名母語譯經員，譯經計劃歷時三十四年，他參與了大部分時間，也負責籌備是次奉獻禮。連約翰夫婦說：「基普利對馬萊人很真誠，而且積極委身於事奉。」此外，母語譯經員卡利（Tengeng Kali）和基普克（Kelopas Kipuctung）也很重要。其他人員還有參與計劃多年的兩位馬萊人助手艾德克（Maluku Aindek）和基普西（Silingwaga Kipuctung），可惜他們在馬萊語新約聖經翻譯完成前已經離世。
九名來自美國威克理夫的專家也出席奉獻禮。美國威斯康辛州的赫德森信心社區教會（Faith Community Church of Hudson, Wisconsin）資助這本聖經的印刷費，其代表西曼拉里牧師（Larry Szyman）說：「能夠支持印刷的費用是我們的恩典。身在這地，我們深感榮幸，我愛看到神在這裏的作為。」