South Pacific Passages
With my toes dug into the sand and wind whipping my hair, I squint at sun-sparkled waves. Panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean never fail to turn my thoughts to the Creator. The depth and power of this wideness beckon me to cross its waters and discover distant, idyllic islands with their myriad peoples. But such exciting voyages have only come for me through reading books, such as Kon-Tiki, Hawaii, and this month, Moby Dick.
When I first trained as a Bible translator, I dreamed of going to French-speaking Tahiti. But that island was not an option. Little did I realize that two centuries before, in 1797, the first missionaries to the Pacific Islands were sent to Tahiti by the London Missionary Society. And such Christian pioneers to the region typically learned the local languages and did Bible translation. Then local believers sailed to neighboring islands, the Truth amid their cargo. Much later, in 1956, SIL International began work in Papua New Guinea.
Today the work of SIL in the Pacific includes Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, and Timor, as well as Australia’s Indigenous people. In addition, Wycliffe-related organizations have sprung up in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu--joining with older Wycliffe organizations in Australia and New Zealand.
Of the 1,330-some Pacific languages, over 450 do not yet have access to the Word of God in their language. Over 90 percent of these remaining languages have populations of 10,000 speakers or less—small communities on numerous isles and in remote places in Papua New Guinea.
The challenge is great. But God is greater. He is working in and through men and women in the Pacific. By prayer, dedicated work, insightful courses, and the use of boats, they look forward to receiving and engaging more deeply with Scripture passages in their own South Pacific languages.
In the following collection of articles, which first appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of Rev. 7, you will read about some of the ways God is at work to bring His word into the hands and hearts of people in the South Pacific.
Riding God's Pacific Wave
Pacific Region: In unexpected, exciting ways, God is calling islanders and others to engage in Bible translation.
Prepared by Prayer
Micronesia: Prayer, over decades, results in amazing translation team and output.
Bible Translation Odysseys
Solomon Islands: Water transportation challenges don’t dampen translators’ commitment.
Could This Be That Boat?
Torres Strait Islands: Waterborne “training college”—a dream boat to promote newly translated Scriptures.
God as Business Owner
Papua New Guinea: Workshop helps people combine ministry and business—for the glory of God and his Word.
Photo: Crashing Waves
© Olga Topp | Dreamstime.com
Dancers photo courtesy of Rev. 7.