BIBLE SOCIETY NEWS | Anne Lim
Thursday 18 February 2016
Fijian dockworker Faijielo Mara was delighted with the simple, clear language of the Fijian New Version Bible he received at a launch ceremony in the chiefly village of Bau two years ago.
Since then he has been trying to lead a life that honours God, attending his cell group faithfully and tithing his income to the church.
“It is very easy to read, clear to understand and just flows when we read. This Bible talks just like we talk today,” Faijielo says.
“I am reading it like the president of the Methodist Church said, to read the Bible continuously from cover to cover – covering a few chapters in a day and allowing the word to speak to me from my reading.”
The Fijian New Version, completed over a 45-year span, is one of the first fruits of a programme to produce new Scripture translations and revisions in contemporary language for about 1.5 million believers in the eastern part of the South Pacific.
The vast area takes in Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Wallis and Futuna, Tuvalu, Cook Islands and the countries of French Polynesia.
Most of these countries have Bibles in their mother tongues from the time of 19th-century missionaries, explains Apenisa Lewatorou, translation officer at the Bible Society of the South Pacific. The great need is for Bibles in accessible contemporary language.
The Marquesan New Testament and Psalms, which arrived in Papeete, Tahiti, in April was enthusiastically received with 1000 copies of the first print run of 2000 sold within two months of their arrival. The next priorities are the Kiribati New Bible (part of the 100 Bibles in 1000 Days project) and Tuvalu Revised Bible, both scheduled for launch in first quarter of 2016.
Meanwhile, comics telling the story of Abraham are providing a launch pad for the gospel in the Solomon Islands, where very few of the 70 languages are available in written form.
Comics are now being printed for eight dialects in Fiji, one in Tuvalu, one in Kiribati and seven Vanuatu languages. Other comics in the pipeline include the stories of Moses, David and Paul as well as the prophets Elijah and Jeremiah. It is hoped that having easy-to-read resources in their heart language will help people of different language groups grasp the salvation message.