“We want to get the word of God into the languages of the people as accurately as possible, but how is that possible? How accurate will we be? There are challenges in the time we are in.”
– Joel Peter, General Secretary, Bible Society Papua New Guinea
Bible translation is an urgent need in the Oceania region, and many groups and organisations are working to meet the need. One example of this need is Papua New Guinea (PNG), which has a population of 8.9 million and over 800 known languages, 300 of which have no Scripture at all.
As a part of the recently formed Oceania Alliance between Bible Society Australia, Bible Society PNG and Bible Society South Pacific, in July BSA hosted the Oceania Bible Translation Gathering. This Gathering drew together 45 delegates, representing over 20 countries in the Oceania region. The Gathering provided an opportunity to discuss how people and organisations might collaborate in the work of Bible translation in the region, and how the work might be strengthened.
Delegates at the gathering came from several different organisations, including the American Bible Society, Every Tribe Every Nation, Mission Mutual, SIL, Wycliffe and Bible Translation Association. The group heard from a wide range of participants on current translation needs, examples of agency collaboration, church participation in translation in the Northern Territory and PNG, and the ongoing impact of historic missionary Bible translation. Discussions were facilitated on data needs, resources required, collaboration across agencies with available resources, and an agreement proposed to pray together and work together for furthering Bible translation.
The three days concluded with a broad in-principle agreement to pray together, share fellowship, and work towards Scripture translation through sharing data and resources. A vote was taken for more coordination and collaboration at both the regional and national levels. Together, delegates wholeheartedly enthusiastic and the following statement has been affirmed:
“We commit to building a spiritual foundation of relationship, trust and prayer, in order to join God in reaching all people in Oceania with the word of God. This will require prayer and a coordinated partnerships at regional and local levels.”