We have an office!

After many months, actually years, of first discussions and then physical work, the North Fly Bible team was finally able to take occupancy of office space in the town of Kiunga. We are hosted by the Kiunga „urban church“ of the Evangelical Church of PNG. Pastor Steven Angkaki and Willie Yofu gutted and cleaned it. Then they rewired the power and built a larger shelf unit (photo, with ECPNG North Fly Area Coordinator, Pastor Mase Wodia) for inventory and storage at one end. At the other end, they built a smaller unit for immediate office use. After they then set up a table with two chairs, a couple whiteboards, and a printer, it started to look functional! Unfortunately, the church ran into some issues with its aging wiring between us and the street, so we are currently without power till that gets fixed.

A vision for a room

We’re already into the second month of the new year! The team’s focus this year is setting up a small resource centre in Kiunga, which is the only town of any size in the North Fly. This project has been made possible in part because of the gentleman in the photo, Yangtem Katie. As the church official who oversees all of the North Fly schools operated by the Evangelical Church of Papua New Guinea, he believed in the North Fly team’s vision to set up a distribution hub to supply Bibles and other ministry resources. We helped him finish his new office, and in this photo he is standing in the room he had just vacated for our use.

A little stuff

​In addition to the song leaders, this photo shows a few simple things that North Fly Bible provides to help raise the standard for rural workshops:

1. Plenty of chalk (normally very precious).

2. Handmade posters showing the „books“ of the Bible and how they are organized.

3. A rope timeline showing the chronology from Genesis to Revelation – with no dates for start and finish (!), and approximate dates for historically verified events.

4. Wood to construct a long desk with a seat (there was a second one on the other side of the room).

5. A world map (many more maps, also of places and times relevant to understanding the Bible, were placed around the room).

This small investment of materials, and the cost of flying them in with the facilitators and observers, was still much less than the cost of running the workshop at a larger center near a town – with much greater community impact.

The partnership also provided one English and one Tok Pisin Bible for each officially registered couple or single, a few school supplies, and preprinted handouts.

The Pa-language participants, and observers from the Aekyom and Ninggirum language communities, improved their literate study skills and learned a storytelling method for transferring Bible passages into their local oral languages.

Kam, yumi stori

​Centre right: Paul – elementary teacher, Pa-language Bible translator. In this photo interpreting from English and Tok Pisin into Pa.

Centre left: Steven – North Fly Bible coordinator, rubber grower. In this photo telling the „story between the stories“ in English and Tok Pisin.

Far left: Rony – intending Bible school student, workshop scribe. In this photo waiting for the next „story“; he will listen in Pa, take notes in English, and sometimes discuss with other facilitators – in English, Tok Pisin, and/or Samo.

* Story = one Bible passage in a set of Bible passages that were selected to help give an overview of the Old Testament. Each one was retold in Pa by a church-recognised pastor or Bible teacher, who then also moderated a discussion of the passage by all of the participants.

* Story between the stories = a narrative summary of the portion of the Bible that lies between the previous „story“ and the next „story“ in the selected set.

This oral process was at the heart of the recent Old Testament workshop for the Pa language community in remote Debepari. The workshop was also observed by future Aekyom and Ninggirum language mentors.

Physical food

​“Land of the Marsupials“ would be an accurate, if somewhat nerdy, description of the Papua New Guinea province of the Animal Kingdom. In the natural order of the world, humans find almost all of the fauna here good to eat – and marsupials are relatively easy to hunt! This specimen added to the variety of the protein portion of the Old Testament workshop menu, which was actually already pretty rich in fish and pig.

The workshop also provided a boost to the orality and literacy skills of the Pa-language participants and the Aekyom and Ninggirum observers.

A cross-language experience

​No snide comments from the Hebrew scholars please! The workshop participants received a handout on the original languages of the Bible. It included a display of an ancient form of the Hebrew pre-alphabet – no vowel points yet. The participants then did their best to write their names using Hebrew letters. The photo shows the handiwork of one of the Aekyom observers. The workshop took place in Debepari for the Pa language community.

Advice needed

​Taking a short break today from the Pa Language album to crowd-source the answer to a question:

Can anyone tell us the legal steps in PNG to starting a social enterprise, especially a non-profit one?

Thanks for any help!
Aerial view of Kiunga borrowed from a Google search: 

„Getting to…Rumginae Primary School near Kiunga, PNG“, ICT4D Views from the Field. WordPress, August 26, 2010.

Talking with a purpose

​As is appropriate in an oral society, guided discussion easily took up more workshop time than any other form of communication, learning, or identity building.

Each of the twenty select Old Testament texts was discussed at length – first to make sure everyone could retell the text accurately, second to allow everyone to express what they see in the text, and third to allow everyone to express what they want to „take away“ from the text.

In the second week, afternoon discussions were devoted to analyzing their communities by generations – in terms of their fears, dreams, what they can contribute to the community, how they function in their multilingual context, and their comfort with books and technology.

The goal: church leaders who understand how best to reach their communities in holistic ministry, centred around a common understanding of God’s Word.

Looking forward

Never ask, „Oh, why were things so much better in the old days?“ This is not an intelligent question. 

 – Ecclesiastes 7:10 (GNT)

Rather than continuing to bask in the glory of „the old days“ when ECPNG and SIL had many missionaries, or bemoan breakdown of infrastructure and programmes since then – North Fly Bible chooses to forge a new strategy based on life as it is today.

The heart of this new strategy is working together in partnership with the North Fly expression of the Church. And we have gone one step deeper by bringing SIL into ECPNG, because it is the leading denomination in the North Fly.

Over the coming weeks – in a number of new posts – I intend to highlight the basic components of this strategy, and then describe in more detail what each of North Fly Bible’s programs and services look like and our progress so far in achieving the vision: „The Bible For Everyone“.