The story of the death of John Chau has captured the attention of a lot of people this past week, for a variety of different reasons. Some have been shocked to learn that Christian missionaries still exist at this point in world history, or that anyone might be motivated by a cause greater than self-preservation. Others have suddenly surfaced as champions of the Sentinelese people, idealizing their primitive isolation as a treasure that must be protected from theft.
I’m blown away.
Our goal was in seven days to raise the funds needed to start Bible translation projects for four language groups in some of the most remote and dangerous regions of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
And you gave—in just those seven days, the Bible translation projects for three of those languages has been funded. God’s grace through friends like you amazes me.
But there is one more language group in PNG who stands ready, prepared to start their translation projects—and there are other tribes as well who have never seen a Bible in their own heart language—more people still trapped in ancient superstitions, fear of evil spirits, rituals of black magic, revenge curses, and the list goes on . . .
I’ve been through a riptide of emotions—frustration, heartbreak, then elation, gratitude—I can hardly describe it.
I was in Manila for a Bible translation conference where I met several pastors from Papua New Guinea (PNG). As they told me what they’ve been through, tears burned my eyes.
These are struggling pastors from remote areas where the people have never had the Scriptures in their own heart language. These are dangerous places where tribes are stuck in centuries-old superstitions like ancestor worship, in bondage to witchcraft and black magic and demonic rituals, living under a cloud of confusion.
When tragedy or natural disaster strike, they often blame a rival tribe for placing them under a curse—and they go to war. These are cultures steeped in fear and blood. There’s an absolutely agonizing need for God’s Word.
Yet for their people, Bible translation has never happened.
- One of these pastors thought his language and his people were too insignificant in the world’s eyes to have a Bible translation—so they had no way to know when translation would happen.
- Another pastor had no one to help him start Bible translation in his language. He grieved as his people kept waiting.
- Yet another pastor had actually been told that his language DID NOT NEED Bible translation. In other words: IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN.
All because Bible translation used to be so difficult, time-consuming, and awkward—requiring Westerners to go into other cultures to live and learn the language, and do the Bible translation work themselves.
But no more.