By BosNewsLife Asia Service
PORT MORESBY, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (BosNewsLife)– A tribe in Papua New Guinea will for the first time receive the Bible’s New Testament in its own language after more than three decades of translation work amid persecution and disappointments, missionaries told BosNewsLife Sunday, October 12.
“The Waxe New Testament has gone through the final proofing stages and is off to the printers!”, said New Tribes Mission (NTM), a U.S.-based group supporting native and international missionaries around the world.
The Waxe tribe speaks one of more than 700 native tongues known in Paua New Guinea, the world’s most linguistically diverse nation. Shipments of the New Testament to the Asian country were expected as early as this month.
Yet, missionaries faced an uphill battle in the rural area, acknowledged NTM. They were initially rejected after moving into a Waxe village, forcing them to leave. Villager Kletus reportedly felt “utter disappointment” and continued to urge NTM missionaries to resume their work as they “promised to give us God’s Word.”
Though he was a teenager and was not in the tribe’s leadership at the time, Kletus played a crucial role in encouraging Christian workers to return and continue translating the Bible, NTM told BosNewsLife in a statement.
“Missionaries Peter and Freda Green agreed to [come back to] move into a smaller Waxe village. Greg and Laura Melendes joined them about a year later in 1982,” the group said.
While Greg “concentrated on translating God’s Word” into the Waxe language,”Peter taught chronologically through the Bible, culminating with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection,” added NTM. “Kletus was right there in the meetings. He listened, understood and believed, used by God,” the missionaries recalled.
“Kletus was my main translation helper,” said Greg Melendes. “He became an excellent evangelist and teacher, even helping to evangelize the bigger village. He was also an encourager. When I would become discouraged in the work, Kletus would encourage me.”
Additionally, “it wasn’t just me he encouraged,” Melendes said. “In the early days of the Bagwido [people] work [to which the Waxe tribe belongs] one of the missionaries was at the end of his rope,” he stressed.
The missionary was discouraged. However “Kletus showed up, sat him down, and put things back into perspective,” Melenses said.
“He told him that God had brought him there and he needed to keep working at it. He couldn’t quit. Kletus continues to be a blessing in the Waxe church.”
Kletus could have considered himself an “insignificant” teenager and kept quiet, NTM said. “But he didn’t. And because of his persistence, the promise of God’s Word in the Waxe language is about to become a reality.”
Yet working as devoted Christian missionaries in the country of 7.2 million people remains a challenge: Some 80 percent of Papua New Guinea’s people live in rural areas with few or no facilities of modern life.
And, Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern part of the world’s second largest island and is prey to volcanic activity, earthquakes and tidal waves
Additionally advocacy group Transparency International has ranked the nation as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. After winning the the elections in 2012, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said his government’s priority would be to crack down on corruption. (With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).
(BosNewsLife MISSION WATCH is a regular look at key mission developments and missionaries working in difficult circumstances and/or the two-thirds world).
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