Friday, July 30, 2010

SALT: Scripture Application & Leadership Training

What is the Pacific Scripture Application & Leadership Training (S.A.L.T.) course?

"The goal of all we do is to see the Scriptures being used effectively and lives being changed; and our aim is to show the relevance of the Scriptures in all aspects of life."

Equipping Leaders:

Pacific S.A.L.T. is a Scripture Use initiative that (1) equips national pastors and leaders to effectively use the translated Scriptures in their ministries; and (2) inspires a love, wonder and understanding of God's Word in the vernacular.

Translating and distributing the Scriptures is the first step. Then, for communities and nations to be transformed by the translated Scriptures, people need to encounter God’s Word in life-changing ways.

That’s exactly what happens in a Pacific S.A.L.T. course — an intensive two-week training session designed to equip local church leaders with outreach techniques, encourage the use of the translated Scriptures, and promote an understanding of God’s Word in their own language.

Learning More About the Lord
by David Ringer

The Wuvulu Scripture Application and Leadership Training (SALT) course began on a soggy day on mid-July. The morning's heavy rains had subsided to drips and splashes as about 50 people gathered in the church building by the sea. Together, the men, women, and children read Ephesians 4:11-15 aloud from their glossy new Wuvulu New Testaments, which had become available only the day before.

Ephesians 4:11-15 speaks of both Christian leadership and the importance of maturing in Christ, two emphases of the SALT course. SALT is designed to disciple Papua New Guineans who already have the New Testament translated into their language. "The emphasis is to use the tokples [mother-tongue] Bible," says Mick Bandy, SALT project coordinator.

Shortly after the introduction, the first session of the course got underway. Titled "The Pursuit of Truth," the lesson emphasized the importance of living according to the truth that God has revealed in the Scriptures. "He's given you your Bible so you can know the truth," said Pastor Dick Gordon, who team-taught the lesson with Sherrie Hardersen.

The next morning, at least 150 people had gathered in the church for the second day of the course. On the third day, the crowd was larger still.

Topics like "The Father Heart of God," "The Grace of God in Salvation," "Overcoming the Enemy," and "Walking in Forgiveness" were presented with a variety of techniques. Object lessons, posters, dramas, games, and discussion groups involved and challenged the students, who became more and more eager to participate as the course progressed.

Course participants expressed their appreciation for the things that they learned. One man said that he had never understood the parable of the prodigal son. He thought it was just a reminder to be good parents, but by reading the story in his own language and hearing the lesson on God as Heavenly Father, he understood for the first time that the story is about God's love for His children.

"We learn more about the Lord," said another participant. "I like the way they present it."

At the graduation ceremony, course leaders presented certificates to nearly 200 people who had completed the SALT course. Many others had been able to attend at least a few of the sessions.

Pray that the people of Wuvulu will continue to study God's Word in their language and draw closer to Him as they do.

Scripture Application Changes Lives
by Karen Weaver

Papua New Guinea

After more than two decades of tedious translation work, the Yopno New Testament and Psalms was printed and ready to be placed in the hands of the Yopno people. But would they know how to study it and apply God's truth to their daily lives?

That's an important question, and it's the reason Wes and Lee-Ann Reed followed the example of some other translation teams in Papua New Guinea in inviting a SALT team to come to their village following the New Testament dedication.

SALT stands for "Scripture Application and Leadership Training." Marjan Sikkema and three others formed the SALT team that went to Tapmange village to teach basic Biblical truths and how to use God's Word and apply it to daily life.

The building was full of people, so some sat around the outside listening intently to the lessons on God’s word through the thatched walls

More than 200 participants were enrolled in the course, and many of them had purchased the Yopno New Testament and Psalms at the dedication. They were eager to attend the SALT course which began two days later. In fact, so many people wanted to hear the lessons that there was not enough room for them in the building. Some sat outside, listening intently to the teaching through the thatched walls.

SALT teacher Marjan Sikkema said, "The people sat on the ground inside the building from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day for two weeks. The first several days we could hear their tongues clicking to express their wonder as they learned things that were new to them. They especially responded to the part about God's love and his holiness."

Another topic that touched their hearts was the teaching about families. They studied II Timothy 1:5, "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother, Lois, and in your mother Eunice . . . " This verse taught them that it is important for children to grow up with the example of parents who put their faith in Christ. They also studied Ephesians 5:22,25 to learn how husbands and wives should treat each other in the home. God's Word in their own Yopno language spoke clearly to them and motivated them to change the way they treat each other so they can live for God's glory.

One church leader testified, "Our village has had programs to teach us about the dangers of AIDS and how people need to change their lifestyles. Even though there has been a lot of money put into these programs, they haven't worked. But having the Scriptures will be the key for solving all our problems. People have to know God. He is the only answer."

Another man told Marjan, "Now I am sure of my faith in Christ. But I wonder how people will react. How do I go back to my village and tell them what I believe?" Marjan showed him Scriptures to help him remain strong in his faith. She assured him, "The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (I John 4:4)

Each morning of SALT, participants were given the opportunity to share what God was teaching them. Early in the second week, a young man stood before the group and told his story. He said that previously he had been involved in a life of sin, but now he wanted to follow Jesus. He pointed to the chart that showed the evil things the devil puts in our hearts: greed, envy, wrath, etc. He told the group, "I am turning away from all these things." Later one of the Christian leaders put his arm around him and said reassuringly, "God still loves you and with Christ you have the opportunity to start again." He burst into tears upon hearing this message of hope and forgiveness.

Each of the 200+ participants left the SALT course knowing how to dig out the truth in God's Word and how to apply it to their lives. They returned home to their villages armed with a two-edged sword for combating sin, fear and hopelessness. When friends and family ask questions about the Lord, they will now be able to open God's Book and read to them the message of life and hope in the language that will speak to their hearts - God's Word in Yopno!

Photos by Marjan Sikkema

Want to be involved?  Find out more about S.A.L.T:
And read their blog:

Papua New Guinea Scriptures

Check out this website for translated Scripture in PNG.  This a new site and more languages will be added in the future.  Here's an intro to the website:

Welcome to the Papua New Guinea Scriptures site!  Papua New Guinea is linguistically the most complex nation of the world. Over 800 languages are spoken in this Pacific country. This site provides access to printed Scriptures including New Testaments and Scripture portions in the vernacular languages of Papua New Guinea. In the future, we also plan to make Scriptures available in a variety of electronic formats (e.g. sword, pdf, html, audio, etc.). You will find here Sunday school teaching materials and other helps for using Scripture, too. In most cases the materials have been previously published as print copy and are made available digitally here for the first time with permission of the copyright holders. However, some materials may also be published here for the first time. You are free to read, download, and share the Scriptures posted on this site according to our terms of use.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Church Engagement in Papua New Guinea

Tim Lithgow, the Director of PNG, shared how SIL in partnership with the PNGBTA (the PNG national Bible Translation Association) are working to engage the PNG church in Bible translation. 

The first ever Bible Translation Weekend (BTW) was held March 19-21, 21010 in Lae, the second largest city in PNG. The purpose of the BTW strategy is to saturate larger PNG cities, build relationships with denominational leaders and pastors, and encourage churches and individuals to support and get involved in the ministry of Bible translation.  Most translations are done for people who live in villages and rural areas so there is a huge need to envision those who live in the cities.

As a result, Pastors encouraged and challenged their people while individuals wanted to know how they could get involved in the work. Seeing the passion of Papua New Guineans sharing about Bible translation was exhilarating.

Last January, they invited church leaders to a Scripture Use workshop at Ukarumpa. Exciting things are happening!

Regional Conferenece:
 Praise God that the New Ireland Province Scripture Use Conference in Kavieng went very well this past week. “This was the first regional follow up to the national Scripture Use conference held at Ukarumpa in January. The Catholic leaders of New Ireland, including the bishop for the region, decided to integrate Scripture Use advocacy within their church structure. They even appointed an interim committee on the spot to get the ball rolling! All participants also endorsed a declaration stating the value of tok ples Scriptures in the church. The unity experienced among diverse denominations was extremely valued by the participants.”
     added 10/08/10

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Greetings from Buka, in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea!

From Barry and Bonnie Moeckel, SIL workers in Buka:

Today has so clearly had God’s fingerprints all over it! First, the speaker for our morning Bible sharing and prayer time finished early. Then Tom Puaria, the Takuu man who is the assistant principal for the Translators’ Training Course (TTC), stood up and began to share how he had felt at the completion of the typesetting of the Takuu New Testament last year. “I just wanted to see all those people overseas who helped make it possible, and thank them! These people have never seen us, but have given money and prayed so that we could have God’s Word! Just look at the love of God shown through them, and through these white people here who have left their homes and families to help us bring God home through the New Testament in our language. Let’s thank God!” And he proceeded to do just that, naming each one of us expatriates here right now, as well as Sue Andersen, who worked for many years with Abraham Vaelani and later Tom as well, to facilitate the translation of this New Testament.

Later in the day, unbeknownst to Tom, the first 6 copies of the Takuu New Testament arrived in the mail. Our regional directors and the president of the Bougainville Bible Translators’ Fellowship were able to surprise him, along with his wife, Sharon, and also Rev. Abraham and his wife, Gracelyn, by presenting them each with a copy! Tom was again overcome, and with tears of gratitude he marveled at how the Lord had prompted him just this morning to thank Him for those who have helped to make it possible for the Takuu people to have God’s Word in their heart language.

Designing the Vision Statement

I've traveled to the Pacific many times but this is the first time that I've experienced not sleeping well on the second night.  Having had 3 hours of sleep last night makes writing a blog (and doing much of anything) a bit challenging!  But I wanted to share a few things.

1) Mark Taber, the Director of the Pacific Area, shared the spiritual framework for the work in the Pacific based on I Chronicles 16:

Give thanks to the Lord
Call upon His Name
Make known amongst the nations what He has done.

2) Have you heard about The 2000 Walk?  2000 km. for the last 2000 languages:

3)  We examined the strengths and weaknesses of the Area as well as our opportunities and obstacles.

4) Then we worked together to design the vision statement for the Pacific Area.  We're still working on it!

It's been a full, good day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We've Arrived!

We arrived here on Mon. after a 27 hour flight!  We are 15 hours ahead of central time so it's taking some time to get adjusted to it.  Our "2 hour" nap on Mon. turned into a 4 hour one since the alarm didn't go off.  We got up just in time for dinner and were surprised that we slept fairly good that night.

We're staying at the Wycliffe/ SIL Australia office located in Kangaroo Ground, a suburb outside of Melbourne and Equip is the linguistic school.  We had morning tea with the staff and it was great to see many we served with in Papua New Guinea.

We met "Skippy" right outside our door.

We arrived a day early to adjust to jet lag and visit with our good friends and the Directors of SIL Vanuatu, Ross and Lyndal Webb.  We went out for lunch with them and then took a stroll along a river path.  We heard someone yell "Wendy, Morris"!  Can you imagine how surprised we were to look around and see Celeste, a gal from our church and a daughter of good friends, come running up to us? She is here visiting friends and we just "happened" to meet!

Now it's Wed. morning and and the meetings officially start today but we did spend some time getting to know each other last night by sharing stories of God's faithfulness.  We're happy to be here and we look forward to what the day will bring.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kangaroo Ground

Morris and I will be leaving tomorrow for the SIL Pacific Area meetings (July 28-Aug.3) at Kangaroo Ground, the SIL center outside of Melbourne.  I've been asked to attend these meetings since I've taken on an additional role as the Pacific Area Vocational Advisor.  I will be the contact person for those in the US who are interested in learning more about the work, strategies and needs in the Pacific area.  This seems like a good fit since we served in Papua New Guinea for 14 years and visited Vanuatu last November so Morris could complete a consultant check for the Gospel of Luke in the Whitesands language (

This role also fits well with my current role in Recruitment Ministries and I'm hoping that this will help people find their role and calling in the task of Bible translation in the Pacific.  Morris is coming along to present Wycliffe USA's new short term program called the Global Service Program.  It's currently only opened to teachers but it will be expanded to other vocations soon.

Since there over 200 openings in the Pacific Area (Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Micronesia,  Australia and New Zealand), there is much to be done in getting the word out about the needs and then the joy is watching the Lord meet those needs. 

Come along with me and see what God is doing!