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.
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.
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.
“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.
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“.
Why maps? (And I promise this is the last map photo for a while!)
Because our vision is „The Bible for Everyone“! And maps are a good first step in helping us to see where ‚everyone‘ is – their dialects, and what churches (if any) are already trying to reach them.
This step in the participatory research part of the workshop series was a new addition, so one of the facilitators from ECPNG’s Honinabi District decided to do one of the Samo language community as well.
Can you see one mistake? (Which the mapmaker Biago Husi graciously accepted when Pastor Soli Ondiae pointed it out to him!)
Each local church made a map of the places where speakers of the Pa language live. Churches of all denominations and dialects were also shown. The clarity of the map pictured below stood out among the others.
The North Fly Bible workshops always include research, planning, and evaluation – using participatory methods. This process strengthens the partnership among the churches and organizations represented, and helps us all to keep community impact as our aim.
For two weeks – Monday through Friday – the workshop mess crew fed about 70 participants, about 10 facilitators, and presumably themselves. We were served 3 meals a day on schedule. The church district charged a K15 fee from each participant to cover local costs – from food to photocopying to use of solar power. The official cooks received K10 each as a very small token of appreciation, which they undoubtedly shared with others who helped them!
(About US$5 and US$3 respectively.)
This week the North Fly Bible team all returned to our respective homes after a very encouraging Old Testament workshop in partnership with the Pa-speaking Debepari district of the Evangelical Church of PNG. We’re still sorting through memories and photos, but I’ll try to start posting the best photos with their corresponding memories tomorrow.
Likely they will come out one a day in no particular order over the course of the next month :).
Representing SIL at the Evangelical Church of PNG’s biennial national conference. We are scheduled to make our presentation on Wednesday afternoon.