Monday, November 8, 2010

PNG: Quotes from Scripture Use Conference

A Scripture Use Conference was recently held in New Ireland Province in Papua New Guinea.  There were 25 languages represented: 7 have completed New Testaments and the 18 other languages are being translated.  46 people attended and there were 5 denominations represented!

This is exciting to see different denominations coming together to declare the importance of Scripture in one's own language.

The participants wrote up this  encouraging declaration during the conference::

• A Bible in one’s own language tastes sweet on our lips and cuts more deeply into our hearts, and it is essential for a vibrant church. (2 Timothy 3:16; Heb 4:12; Ezk 3:3; Jam 2:14-26)

• Christians must be able to understand the Bible clearly in order to grow in their faith. (Acts 8:30-31)

• For many people in our communities, the language that best helps them to understand the Bible is tok ples(their own language).

• We must start in our families, in our communities and go into all the world, reaching people in the language that they understand best. (Acts 1:8)

The following are paraphrased quotes from some of the participants:

Four Square Pastor:

This conference was like a clinic. We came with all kinds of sores. Or it is like we were a car running with out oil. When this conference started, I was not moved deeply in my heart, but at the end of this conference, I am moved deeply in my heart.

My denomination has a dream to reach New Ireland for Jesus. We’ve been wondering how to do that. Now I see that using mother-tongue Scriptures is a key strategy.

CLC Pastor:

I have seen God work deeply in my life. The cry of my heart has been to see the people in my church experience the same deep touch from God. I have lived both in a remote village and in town. I have seen the power of mother-tongue. I witnessed how the Word of God in mother-tongue deeply touches people. After this conference I am convicted about doing all I can to get the mother-tongue Scriptures to all the people. I feel challenged to start in my own family, promoting our own language.

Before this conference I did not experience much cooperation between the different denominations in our area. However, now I have a desire to work closely with other churches for this purpose of getting mother-tongue Scriptures out to everyone.

Seventh Day Adventist Participant:

Thank you to all the top leaders of the other denominations. I did not know you very well before this conference. But I have come to know you better and appreciate you during this conference.

I have a blended family. My first wife passed away in 2007. After that I married a woman who is from another language area. Her previous husband was from a third language. So, in my family now my children and step-children speak three different languages. I have been convicted through this conference to support and encourage each of my children to keep and maintain their own languages.

Bishop of Catholic Church (Bishop Ambrose Kiapseni):

I feel encouraged that we can work together more closely. I had expected that there might be quarrels between us in this conference. However, we experienced the presence of God with us and we saw a great unity. Now I am convinced that we can work together, because of our experience this week. I do not want to forget what happened here this week. When we leave here and go back to our communities, let’s don’t go back to saying, “Oh, we are so different, we can’t work together”. Instead, let’s keep this spirit of unity. We have only one thing that keeps us together – that is Christ!

Second in Charge of United Church:

I have heard a saying, “There is no fast food in the Bible”. Think of a cow. There is a phrase we call “chewing the cud”. This refers to how a cow eats grass, and then just keeps on chewing on it for a long time. Someone may look at the cow doing this and say, “Oh, that is just a waste of time”. But think about what is happening. During that time that the cow is chewing the grass and gradually digesting it, over time it turns into creamy milk. That is how our time this week has been. We have to think over what we have heard this week from one another. We have to meditate about it to allow it to sink deeply into us.

Many people try to treat God’s Word like fast food or a snack. This leads to weak Christians and churches. Psalm 119:9-24 tells us how to place God’s Word at the center of our lives. As we study His Word and follow it, we will have strong Christians and healthy churches. We have to apply Scripture in our everyday lives. God’s Word is not meant to be fast food. If we approach it this way, how will it steer our lives?

Let’s all work together to see that all the people can have God’s Word. Encourage them not to see it as a snack food but to take it in deeply, meditate on it and receive strength from it.

Lamsong Parish Council Secretary (Blaise Lavenas):

We can’t just translate the Bible and not teach people how to use it. This would be like giving someone a car and not teaching them that it needs oil and water. In this case the person would just get in and drive it every day and the car would break down. In the same way, it is essential that we teach people how to use their Bibles.

Regional Catholic Leader (Father Bartholomew Marang):

When we don’t have a tok ples, it is like we don’t have roots and the wind can blow us around.

Four Square Pastor

Language is like a bridge for communication. Too often when the Scripture is in a language people do not understand well, it is like a bridge that is broken.

Wow, I was so encouraged to read this report and I thank God for what He is doing!