Official Papua New Guinea tongues like English and Tok Pisin, an intertribal trade language, have had Bibles for some time. But nothing matches the “fresh air” of hearing the Bible in a heart language. “He’s not just the God of the Australians,” said Badi Vila, a translator for her own coastal people. “He’s the God of the Papua New Guineans as well. He comes to us in our cultural contexts. He knows our pain and our suffering.”
The Kasua dedication wasn’t all rejoicing, though. With their role finished, the Logans are returning to the United States. At the dedication, village women sang of their departure, while others clung to Konni and wailed. In the translation office, the ever-steady Ulupele “shut and locked the door behind me, embraced me, and bawled like a baby,” Tommy Logan said.
Translators have provided New Testaments for hundreds of languages, but only one SIL-partnered tribe has the complete Bible. Tommy Logan had a closing charge to the Kasua people: If you want the Old Testament, you have to own the project. But stepping away to exhort the church to “stand up on her own” comes with conflicting feelings. Many Kasua who bought print Bibles still can’t read, and the government struggles to find qualified teachers for its cities.
“Thinking of being by myself is hard,” Ulupele said: He now leads both a village and a translation team. But translation remains his top priority, “a whole different kind of work” from other things he could do: “The truth will set you free.”
This story has been updated to clarify the number of New Testament translations available in Papua New Guinean languages.