It’s a big job — learning someone else’s language and culture so that we can speak to them clearly. Where does anyone begin? In NTM we know where to begin because we have consultants, and training, and helps in English. But what about the local churches whom we are assisting here in PNG, where do they start? Let me tell you a story which started this summer . . . .
Recently a group of three Mouk Bible Teachers and their families moved to our village to help our partners with future outreaches to the Lusi. They need to learn Lusi in order to do that effectively. So on Saturdays and our “free time” from translation, we pulled together some materials for them. Remembering how we started, and what were rough spots, and making pictures available to them — we started an impromptu “How to learn another language class” and put the materials into a booklet (which is still in the process).
After a couple of weeks, Selu showed up. He is a Mouk elder who wants to learn Anem, a neighboring language which is completely unrelated to Mouk. He wanted to know if we could make one of those language learning booklets for him? Sure, but we’ll take out the Lusi and leave the directions in Melanesian Pidgin (the trade language).
The next week at language learning class Selu was back. Could he have two more copies for two more guys who wanted to learn Anem too? Sure, we’d be glad to do that too.
The following week, some Mouk elders came and shared great news about how they had gone through the Phase 1 teaching with the Headmaster of the community school who was from the Kove language group. And he and his family had become believers. The Headmaster wanted his family to hear what he had heard.
The next week, they were back. Realizing that an outreach to the Kove would probably happen in the future, three guys wanted to start learning Kove, so that they could talk to people about Jesus in their own heart language. Could we make three more language learning books for them? Sure, we’re happy to do that!
So we find we are multiplying ourselves as we teach people from the local Mouk church how to learn a language and a culture. We could never reach all those people groups on our own. But we can assist others to reach out to them. Isn’t God good! This didn’t catch Him by surprise at all!