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Mine eyes have seen!

Brad Venter surrounded by locals wanting to buy Bibles

Brad Venter surrounded by locals wanting to buy Bibles

 I had a great opportunity to fly with a Learning Technologies pilot, Brad Venter to sell Bibles at a remote airstrip. This trip was special because it was planned so that the team from Nampa could see bibles being sold in a remote airstrip.

Selling Bibles at remote airstrips by MAF pilots has given a great boost for one of the main facets of CRMF’s LTPNG. Survey results showed the need for Bibles in the remote places and working in close partnership with MAF PNG, a total of 4,854 Tok Pisin Bibles, 2,123 English bibles have been distributed in a period of two and half years.

What we did not plan was to land at Wonenara airstrip with its interesting approach! Skillful may be the better word to describe the approach where you dive into a narrow valley and then turn 90 degrees left for a few minutes and then turn 90 degrees left again to line up with the airstrip which is at the back of yet another hill. Once you clear that hill, the strip is in clear view.  As soon as we landed, the message that Bibles were on sale for a special price got around and very soon the aircraft was surrounded with people.

Women with their newly bought Bibles

Women with their newly bought Bibles

It was a real blessing for me because I received photos and reports from Matt Painter and other MAF pilots about Bible sales at remote airstrips from my desk and to be on site to witness the eagerness to buy bibles was so special. All I could do was to murmur a silent prayer for the partnership LTPNG has with MAF pilots. Brad sold about 50 bibles on that day and people requesting more to be brought as they were not expecting this flight.

Rebecca Lee, talking with the locals during the bible sales

Rebecca Lee, talking with the locals during the bible sales

People were still wanting to buy Bibles until an elderly man approached be to ask if we would leave as our sale of bibles was holding up people to cast their votes for a local level government representative.

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Oral Strategy Workshop

Nick making a point during small group presentation with Facilitator Brian Ward

Nick making a point during small group presentation with Facilitator Brian Ward

The Oral Strategy Workshop is a story worth telling as all who attended have benefited so much from a week of participation. The leaders training and coaching in the first two and half days went so well that by the second half of the week, the newly trained were able to use the method to run through the steps for the new people that came.The Evangelism/Church Planting method consists of five steps for storytelling and another five sets of questions related to the story. The second method learned was the Oral Bible Study which uses the first three steps of storytelling with expanded questions to stream into the bible study approach.

The neat thing about the steps was that by the end of the first day, the translation was being done to ask the questions in Tok Pisin (Pidgin English). By the end of the workshop all the participants had the steps in Tok Pisin.  Kimbi from EBC found the method so easy to use that by the second night of the workshop, he did a bible study with his family. He was very excited by the outcome of the bible study.

The participants consisted of CRMF staff, LT personnel, MAF employee, EBC and CLC Pastors and a Four Square bible school student. We also had a guest participant, Mrs Janet Otire, a member of PNG Bible Translation who was exposed to storytelling training by SIL a couple of years ago.  She said she was so blessed that she came because she now has another vital tool for ministry in assisting her husband who is a national translator with PNG BTA.

Janet and Lina with Facilitator Regina Manley

Janet and Lina with Facilitator Regina Manley

Story telling has been the way of education for the oral communities of PNG and so to use such a widely used method to evangelize, plant churches and conduct Bible study is the appropriate way to go. It is appropriate because the method is easy to teach and can be easily multiplied. Just as land boundaries, moral values, family blood lines and cultural knowledge were passed down through the centuries orally, the oral strategy method is a good catalyst for pastors and ministry workers to use.

With Learning Technologies emphasis for the oral remote communities, this workshop
conducted by the MAF LT team from NAMPA could not come at a better time when
requests are coming from churches and ministry organizations to assist with biblical
resources and training. LTPNG now has another ministry tool to offer to churches and ministry partners.

While the facilitators were away in Markham Valley with LT personnel to witness an MOU signing between CRMF and Waritsian Lutheran Renewal Church, an EBC pastor had a great response from his congregation members when he used the storytelling approach for his sermon time.

It is indeed a great ministry tool and our prayer is to train as many people as possible to address the needs of local churches in PNG.


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The Bible Bilum Box

Unite and Ignite was the theme of the Papua New Guinea Bible Translation Association’s emphasis at their 2013 biannual conference. Learning Technologies PNG was invited to attend and share the ministry with the BTA Board members, administration staff and the national translators.

The theme is timely as BTA guided by Acts 2:1-4 to engage the PNG Church to own the task of bible translation in the country. The concept of church engagement which got off to a good start a couple of years ago is now begging for the organization to work closely with the church to put bibles in every bilum (string bag). Every home for Christ has a concept to reach each individual family for Christ and BTA and SIL as leaders with other translation organizations and partners have a vision to put bibles into every bilum that a Papua New Guinean carries.

What about LTPNG? The Lord had given a vision to an MAF pilot to distribute bibles in a “Bible Box” and the Lord also opened the door for Learning Technologies to supply the bibles. It was indeed a great start with MAF pilots to bring bibles to the remote strips. To date, we have distributed a total of 4,854 Tok Pisin print bibles, 2,123 English print bibles and 800 units of audio bibles in both English and Tok Pisin via the Davar and the Megavoice players.

LTPNG and MAF pilots were already into the bible in every bilum concept and we praise God that other para church organizations like BTA has embraced this idea with both arms. We now have a great opportunity to partner with BTA to put biblical resources in the bilum.

Just like the string bag (bilum) with lots of strings, patterns and colors, it is a Melanesian symbol for sharing what one has among the 800 plus languages and cultures. Even the color of modernization has blended neatly into the making of a bilum and its purpose. I have seen small bilums for pens and mobile phones. Its purpose also encompasses the various ministries that the Lord has started in this country.

Gifts of food and traditional presents are given away in bulim loads and from where I come from, the process of bride price giving and receiving are called bilum in general terms. What really excites me is that infants are carried in the bilum; one of the greatest gift from God is a new born baby and one that is resting in the comfort of a freshly made string bag lovingly made by the mother 9 months ago! I think it is ok to imagine baby Jesus peacefully sleeping in the bilum when the wise men came to bring their presents. Those gifts in the wise men’s bilum represent Jesus’ ministry to all mankind.

LTPNG desires to be one of the main advocator to put bibles and biblical resources in the bilum and also participate in actually giving the bilum to the pastors and church leaders in the remote communities. Pray with us as people find peace and comfort from the Bible and biblical resources from the bilum and allow the Holy Spirit to open the bilum and give out the presents.