“It’s just so clear!”
After decades of hearing Matthew’s Gospel only in another language, the Mum people of Papua New Guinea can now hear the words of Jesus in the language of their hearts. What a difference that is making!
The Mum are a small people group with few resources. Their villages are tucked away in the tropical rainforest, so difficult to reach that they are easily overlooked in favor of larger groups with easier access.
They heartily embraced the Good News when it came to their area many decades ago. Yet the rhythms of their lives continued to be controlled by animistic traditions deeply embedded in their culture. They still practiced sorcery. They still appeased the spirits. They still exacted brutal vengeance when wronged. They still lived in constant fear. They didn’t realize that Jesus had called them to lives of freedom and forgiveness because the only Bible they had was written in another language—one that did not communicate the message they so desperately needed to hear.
Many of the Mum people developed a fervent hope of having God’s Word in their own language. So they began to pray.
They began to see God’s answer when missionaries from Pioneer Bible Translators chose to work among them. After the missionaries had to leave, Mum translators continued drafting Scripture on their own. When they needed access to the resources at the translation office in the town of Madang, they traveled at least three days on jungle trails, rivers, and treacherous roads to get there. Sometimes they spent several weeks working in Madang, away from their families and the work of tending the gardens that were their primary sources of food. They served sacrificially. And the Mum people continued praying.
God is answering in ways that astonish them. Once again missionaries are living in their midst, accelerating the progress of their translation work and facilitating literacy so that more Mum will be able to read their Scriptures. People are gathering to listen to the portions of God’s Word they now have. A group sat down one evening to read and discuss Matthew’s Gospel. They couldn’t find a good place to stop so they kept going … and going … until the sun rose the next morning.
And they are embracing these words of Jesus, even those that confront centuries-old patterns. A divorced couple read Matthew together and were convicted to forgive, reconcile, and remarry.
Armed with God’s powerful Word in their heart language, the Mum people are learning for themselves what it means to follow Jesus. It is giving them new eyes to see their beliefs and behaviors. It is allowing them to draw closer to God. All this because, “It’s just so clear!”
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