The Waima New Testament hasn’t been collecting dust since its dedication in July 2003. A community FM radio broadcast, multiple showings of the “Gospel of Luke” video, and Scripture Application and Literacy Training (SALT) courses have all encouraged the use of the Waima scriptures over the past decade. But as the tenth anniversary of the dedication approached, the translation team and village leaders decided a celebration was needed to remember the momentous occasion.
On 28 July 2013, thousands from the surrounding area gathered in the central village of Ereére. The United Church Circuit minister started the celebration with a worship service, followed by hymns and dramatic presentations. Later, various groups held competitions in scripture reading and memorization.
Taita Baeha is over 70 years old. When her turn came to compete in the scripture reading, she stood up and clearly read the passage given to her. It was a challenging chapter from 1 Corinthians, but she never stumbled or made a mistake. For her perfect performance she was given the title, “Tuabi tuabi babiéna!” --a Reading Lady!
During the scripture memorization competition, each participant was only expected to recite the portion requested by the judge. Uni, however, was very eager to share the words of God so she recited the whole passage of Matthew 7:1-29. The audience listened attentively to Uni’s energetic voice as she repeated Jesus’ promise that “the door will be opened to the one who knocks.”
After watching a video of the 2003 dedication, the head village chief declared, “Our God became a Waima man and He speaks our language to us. We should listen to what He says and obey what He told us!” The audience responded, “Yes, that’s true!”
The Waima Circuit United Church has grown steadily since receiving the Waima New Testament in 2003. They have since established their own circuit called “Pou Namona” (Good News), and decided that July 19 should be annually celebrated as “Waima Bible Day”. The Waima people have also embraced the responsibility to carry on translation of the Old Testament. It is their desire that God “continue to speak clearly” to the Waima people.
*Missy wrote this and other stories for “The PNG Experience”. Visit this blog for more amazing stories and stunning photos of Bible translation and language development in PNG.
**Photo by N&D Kim