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Hearing God’s Word in the jungle

MISSION NEWS | David Hughes, Global Recordings Network Australia

Tuesday 28h August 2012

David Hughes from Global Recording Network (GRN) Australia has just returned from a visit to the Solomon Islands where he observed GRN’s audio recording ministry first-hand.

I thought I was well prepared. Equipped with my brand new mosquito net and a portable iPhone charger, I felt ready for almost anything this adventure might bring.

Our journey started in Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, where we were met by Jones Sanga, the director of GRN’s base in the Solomons.

The recordings were to be made for the Lengo, a remote language group a few hours’ drive from Honiara in the jungle. To get there we hitched a ride on a truck that took their local produce to market. Then we were told that a bridge was out and the truck would need to drop us off on the wrong side of the river!

As I gingerly crossed the river with my backpack held high, praying with every step that the current around my thighs wouldn’t get any stronger, I thought, “I’ll bring a waterproof barrel next time,” like Sybil Shaw, the veteran GRN Recordist who I accompanied, who had all her equipment all packed inside one. Around us, women from the community were carrying suitcases on their heads – no hands and, no issues with keeping the cases balanced. The suitcases just stuck on their heads.

Pretty soon we arrived at our recording destination, a beautiful community of homes beside a pristine river.

The Lengo are a community that desperately need Bible teaching that they can hear in their own language. The practical issue is that they speak Lengo, but there are very few written materials of any kind in their own language, and almost no Christian materials.  So while they speak Lengo daily, they are not comfortable with reading it. This means written Christian materials feel foreign, and there is much difficulty with changing their worldview.

The Good News series resource

Chosen for the project were two language tools: the GRN Look, Listen and Live series of 192 pictures and the Good News series of 40 pictures. Each image has a script that is translated to provide teaching from Genesis to Revelation. The goal of this GRN project is to produce accessible recordings that can be heard in any group’s heart language, which will powerfully influence their worldview.

The team we worked with in the Solomon Islands have been trained by Wycliffe Bible Translators. Hilda Kone, the team leader, was passionate about her people and their language group, and had applied everything Wycliffe had taught her towards completing this project.

I watched as Regina, the first language helper Sybil Shaw recorded with, struggled to read the translated script. I had learned that reading her heart language was rare and she had to repeat each sentence a number of times before it flowed naturally. Sybil Shaw patiently and expertly guided and encouraged Regina through the process, and the recording started taking shape.

The language helpers who read for the recordings come from a cross section of the whole Lengo community. I learned this is very important as it enables the whole community to “own” the final recordings, and not just one family. Throughout the week I got to know young, middle aged and elderly men and women as they all proudly took part in their project.

My absolute highlight was just one brief moment. Near the end of all the recording activities, a community group came to sing us some songs to thank us for our work. A language helper was listening to her own recorded voice as she checked for any errors in what she had read out. As soon as the visitors heard her voice speaking out of the box everyone froze and listened. Then they gathered around and listened to the box tell them a Bible story in their own language.

Once Sybil’s has edited the recordings into a finished program, they will be distributed to the Lengo people. The primary distribution mechanism will be GRN’s Saber, a robust hand wound mp3 player that requires no batteries or electricity. Micro SD cards will also be distributed to those with mobile phones capable of listening to the recordings.

A local Sydney church has “adopted” the Lengo people as a mission project. They sponsored Sybil’s recording trip, and later intend to send a representative team from the church to help distribute the recordings for the Lengo people to listen to.

David is producing some short videos of his trip to the Solomon Islands which will be loaded onto GRN’s YouTube channel .

Header image: flickr_globalcitizen01


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