We were sort of surprised to hear that the Abelam people of Papua New Guinea, among whom we worked in the 1980’s and 1990’s, have a flood story. It goes something like this:
“A big flood came, so the boy and the girl climbed a very, very tall coconut tree, taking their dog with them. They had to stay up there a long time, but there were plenty of coconuts to eat. After several weeks, they threw a coconut down to see if the waters had receded. They heard a ‘plop’ so they knew there was still water surrounding them. About a week later they threw another coconut down and it went ‘thud’ so they knew it was safe to go down.”
That makes me sad, because I know that if the ability to read and write had been passed down through the centuries, they could have taken the Word of God with them wherever they roamed, and all those generations of wanderers would have been able to follow God. As it was, though, they only began to learn to read and write in the last couple of decades. Now, at last, they can read the unchanging Word and have been able to read the real flood story and all the other stories of the Bible. And they can know the God who wrote it!
Now I (Janet) get to teach missionary trainees how to teach people how to read and write their own language. It’s hard work, but it’s doable and is being done all over the world! I love seeing the students get excited about it and realize they can do it—AND realize for themselves how extremely important it is that people can read for themselves—so they can grow in the Lord and help the church multiply itself!
For more information about our NTM ministry and opportunities to partner with us, please click this link: www.ntm.org/gordon_wohlgemut