New Testament completed for Patpatar people in Papua New Guinea

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Patpatar-people1ON a tiny exotic island just off the coast of Papua New Guinea, Bible translators Ed and Debi Condra, along with their Bible translation team, completed the New Testament for the Patpatar people.

Now the Patpatar people are reading and understanding Scripture that’s in their heart language, and they want their neighbors to have God’s Word, too.

So, encouraged by Ed and Debi, the Patpatar churches created the New Ireland Translation Institute (NITI) to provide quality training to those nationals who want to become Bible translators. What God had established here was the potential for a rustic yet cutting-edge, dream-come-true translation center—where native speakers would be trained to be quality translators. A place where the nationals would also lead, coordinate, and conduct the translation of the Scriptures into their own mother-tongues. Here everyone works together on 15 language projects simultaneously—thus impacting an entire region with the power of God’s Word.

The New Ireland Translation Institute is a model of the power of partnership. The project involves the New Ireland Translation Institute, Wycliffe Associates, and others to provide the funds needed to construct the new institute and to cover the operating expenses and the ongoing needs of the national translators as they work to eventually translate Scripture in all 25 language projects in the whole province.

A Work in Progress

Wycliffe Associates partners responded to critical needs at the pioneering New Ireland Translation Institute.

  • In 2007, the kitchen of this brand-new complex burned to the ground.
  • A classroom was urgently needed to train more translators.
  • Power and other finishing construction had to be completed.
  • And, the duplex that houses translation consultants and additional shower-toilet houses for translators were built.

After the fifth training course during the summer of 2008, Ed Condra said, “Overall, tremendous progress was made in training these national translators to a higher level of excellence. At the course the translators turned the corner in developing their skills and improved in their ability to check and revise their own work.”

During the sixth training course several teams were trained to use the Adapt-It computer program. God brought the translation teams to the point where they reached amazing speeds and accuracy of translation.

Between each training course, the teams work toward testing all the translated material in their communities for clarity and naturalness. They are reading Scripture in their own language to their friends—how awesome is that!

A total of 54 mother-tongue Bible translators and literacy workers from 11 language groups came to the tenth course of the New Ireland Translation Institute. This was marked by the handing out of the first published copies of whole books from the New Testament to the translators and literacy workers to take back to their villages. At last, the people saw the first fruits of the translation teams’ years of work.

Just think: In 2007, these translation students used a computer for the first time. Then the translation teams returned to their villages with laptop computers, three of which have satellite communication terminals, and nine also have solar panels. Living in remote locations, without electricity or even an Internet connection, these national translators communicate via a satellite connection with translation consultants hundreds or even thousands of miles away in real-time—greatly reducing the need for dangerous travel.

In May 2013, all the New Ireland mother tongue translators diligently prepared for the fourteenth training. Several teams had even sent their back translations to the consultants ahead of the training.

Following the fourteenth training, Ed Condra wrote:

“I was working with Barok translators Lucy and Sonia recently on a difficult passage in one of the epistles. They hadn’t done a good enough job in their translation because they didn’t understand the passage in English. So we were trying to figure out how to fix their translation.

“Just out of the blue, Sonia exclaimed, ‘People in the village think they understand these kind of verses, but they really don’t!’ What she meant was, a few relatively more educated people who are sufficiently literate in English to read English Bible translations think they’re getting the right meaning. Actually they’re getting a wrong meaning in some cases because they don’t understand English well enough.

That’s why we work to translate God’s Word into these mother tongues—not only so people have access to God’s Word in the language they understand, but also so they won’t be led astray by reading translations they think they understand but don’t.”

Thanks to the giving of faithful supporters, the translation progress continues to move forward at a rapid pace. Some complete New Testament drafts are now in the final checking and printing stages! Wycliffe Associates

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