Thai Study Bible will be the first of its kind

Thailand Bible Society’s (TBS) soon to be published new Thai Study Bible will be the first of its kind and sought after by the Thai church.

While there are other Thai Study Bibles on the market (translated from English), this TBS edition will be unique because of its Thai perspective and impartial stance on biblical interpretation, reported Dr. Pattemore (in picture, far right).

Thailand is a country with a high standard of education, and a growing Christian population. For many years now TBS has been working to produce a high quality Thai Study Bible.

Dr. Pattemore supports a team of TBS staff and biblical scholars who are writing notes designed specifically for the Thai context – not translated from another Study Bible. This has been a long and arduous task, but it’s nearing the point where the end is in sight.

UBS’s Paratext software enables Dr. Pattemore, who is fluent in Thai, to read and interact with the notes and the team of writers from wherever he is in the world. But opportunities to meet face to face and talk through theological and social issues are important too, he said.

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The Bible treasured in Papua New Guinea

“In Papua New Guinea the Bible is a huge treasure. It’s like you’ve given them a gift from the moon.”

“They walk around carrying their Bible in a special bag, like a priceless gift. They do this even when the pages are worn and ragged around the edges and falling apart.”

This is the observation of Salvation Army Commissioner Yvonne Westrupp, who has just returned from three years serving in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Joel Peter is Bible Society of Papua New Guinea’s (BSPNG) Translations Manager. He works to support Bible translations in nine languages. In his spare time he works on the translation of the Old Testament into his own Molima language. He says having the Bible in a people’s heart language is critical.

He says the translated Word of God helps his people understand God’s message of salvation and they can respond with faith because it grabs the heart of people.

“My people are glad to have the Bible written in our words, which is the most precious treasure we have.”

Joel says there is still a huge and growing spiritual hunger for the Bible in PNG. “There are many young people giving their lives to the Lord who are without Bibles. Churches, particularly from Milne Bay, are sending numerous requests to BSPNG asking for Bibles in Tok Pisin, Dobu and, of course, English, but Bible Society is unable to meet their needs.”

Joel has a message for you.

“We are so thankful for you and your continuous support of Bible translation in PNG. We are seeing lives changing. The ministry of Bible translation is a huge responsibility in a country like PNG because it is so linguistically diverse with more than 800 languages. May God our heavenly Father bless your hearts.”

Will you partner with us and help bring the Bible to people in Papua New Guinea and other countries in a language they can read and understand?

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Urak Lawoi Bible nears completion

Ethim is one of the Urak Lawoi, a minority fishing community on Thailand’s Andaman coast, whose land tenure is under threat.

Ethim (right) and Dr Stephen Pattemore learn the new software.

Pictured above; a Bible study group in Baan Nai Rai, an Urak Lawoi village on Lanta Yai Island, Krabi province.

Ethim lives in a corrugated iron house and has four years primary education. For years he has worked tirelessly from his bed as a voluntary Bible translator, working to make the Bible available to his people in their heart language.

He was paralysed after diving for salvage and getting the bends. He recovered the use of his upper body but his lower body remains paralysed. Bible Society New Zealand Translations Director Dr. Stephen Pattemore says he now faces a new hurdle but one he will take in his stride.

Ethim, along with all United Bible Society (UBS) translators, has to learn a whole new level of computing involving an upgrade from an existing version of Paratext (special translation software) to a new version. This means migrating all his already translated Bible text to the new software, a complex process. Despite this, the Urak Lawoi Bible is nearly ready for publication after some final checking.

Dr. Pattemore, who is now working on Bible publication plans, says Urak Lawoi is a threatened language, and the communities of Christians there include those who are illiterate, as well as those literate in Thai and Urak Lawoi.

The historical section of the Old Testament will be published in three volumes as diglot* editions in Urak Lawoi and Thai. But the whole Urak Lawoi Bible will probably be an electronic edition. “Smart phones are becoming increasingly popular and widely used in Urak Lawoi villages, and already Pastor AhLin reads his Thai Bible on the YouVersion app. So this seems to be the way to go,” said Dr. Pattemore.

Will you partner with us to make the Bible a reality for those, like the Urak Lawoi, that don’t have it in their heart language?

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God’s Word spreads further in the South Pacific

Children and adults alike from Kiribati and Tuvalu in the South Pacific are delighted to have Bible comic story books in their own heart language for the very first time.

“Their reaction was one of amazement and they were so appreciative,” said Charles Cleary and Seremaia Rareba from the Bible Society of the South Pacific (BSSP). “Please thank all the generous supporters in New Zealand for making this possible,” they said.

More copies of the Bible comic story book titled, The Man Who Trusted God, The Story of Abraham, with content from Genesis 12 to 22, are currently being distributed to Kiribati and Tuvalu churches and communities in Suva, Fiji, before being shipped to the islands.

The Abraham Bible story comics are part of Bible Society’s ongoing mission to reach the people of the South Pacific with the Bible in their heart language.

The next translation project to be finalised in the South Pacific will be the Hano New Testament in Vanuatu. Here, the Hano language is spoken by more than 6,000 people in the North Pentecost area of the island with 1,000 speakers in the main centres.

The last publication of the Scriptures in the Hano language was in 1988, consisting of the four Gospels. The New Testament is nearly complete now with final checking in progress.

It’s hard to imagine that many people in some of New Zealand’s favourite Pacific holiday destinations still do not have the Bible in their own language.

Tropical getaway destinations such as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Niue and French Polynesia, many of which have multiple languages, are waiting for Bible translation projects to be completed or started.

Seremaia (left) from BSSP with Rev Kabong, a church minister from the Kiribati community, with some of the comics.

Without the Bible in their own heart language it’s much harder to connect intimately with God.

There is ongoing translation work on the Tongan Contemporary Old Testament. Text is also being prepared for Bible resources such as concordances and electronic Bibles, which will be distributed in Tuvalu, Kiribati, Niue, Tahiti and Tonga.

In Fiji, translation work continues on the Maumi and Korobubu-Ba New Testaments, with both projects due to print trial editions of completed books later in the year.

Finally, people experiencing trauma will be helped by the translation of biblical trauma healing materials into various South Pacific languages.

Apenesia Lewatoro joined BSSP because he was fascinated with translation work and had a heart to make God’s Word available in the language of his people.

He said, “Bibles were originally translated by the missionaries in the 1800s and one of the challenges now is people don’t understand the languages of the past. We’re working towards translating the Bible into today’s languages of contemporary Fijian, Kiribati, Tongan, and Samoan. Then people can understand God’s Word and make changes in their lives.”

“Thank you so much for your kind hearts in supporting Bible work in the South Pacific. God bless you all.


Bible helping save the Tokelauan language

This week is Tokelau Language week – seven days dedicated to maintaining and promoting the Tokelaun language.

A translation review team in action.

More than 7,000 Tokelauans live in New Zealand, with 50% living in Wellington as well as Tokelauan communities in Auckland, Taupō, and Rotorua. There are only 1,400 Tokelauans living on the island of Tokelau.

The 2006 Census reported that the Tokelauan language is one of the most-at-risk Pacific languages in New Zealand, along with Niuean and Cook Island Maori. Today only 34% of Tokelauans speak their heritage language.

A scene from the launch of the Tokelauan New Testament at Pahina O Tokelaua, Porirua, in 2009.

This is why our Tokelau Bible translation project is so important. Not only does it mean Tokelauans can read the Bible in their own tongue but it will also lead to the preservation of their language and, as part of that, their culture.

The completion of the Tokelauan Bible next year will be end of a 21-year project for head translator Ionae Teao. Ioane has dedicated his life to this project, which was initiated by the Tokelauan Society for the Translation of the Bible and supported by Bible Society New Zealand.

Listen to Dr Stephen Pattemore speaking on Radio New Zealand about the Tokelauan translation project (click on the logo)

The Tokelauan New Testament was launched in June in 2009 with great celebrations and accolades. Now as the finishing touches are made to the Tokelauan Old Testament next year, and publication set for early 2019, the Tokelauan community in New Zealand will again have cause for celebration.

To resource Tokelauan Language Week, we’ve made available our

popular Little Book of Hope in Tokelauan (picture right). This palm-sized booklet contains Bible verses grouped under the themes of peace, strength, unity and hope.

Ke manuia koutou i te Alofa o te Atua. Tokelauan for May you be blessed in God’s love.


More about The Little Book of Hope

Thousands of Kiwi kids will get really good news this Christmas

Bible Society is giving away 93,000 booklets and leaflets nationwide telling the Christmas story.

“Christmas is gift-giving time, and Bible Society is very happy to offer creative resources that share the good news of Christmas – the story of the birth of Jesus – to children this year. Many Kiwi kids today have never heard this message. We trust it will be blessing to them,” said Stephen Opie of Bible Society New Zealand.

The Well Good News of Christmas  is a unique booklet telling the story of the birth of Jesus and why it is such good news. It includes Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem, the shepherds and the three wise men all in child-friendly rhyming language with colourful illustrations.

More than 3,000 copies of The Well Good News of Christmas will be given away free this Christmas, equipping parents and churches to pass on the story.

Meanwhile BSNZ’s annual Christmas leaflet sent to churches throughout New Zealand is this year called Escape to Egypt. Created in partnership with the Anglican children’s and families ministry STRANDZ, this free leaflet tells the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus and then the family’s subsequent escape to Egypt. It will prompt children to think about how Jesus started his life as a refugee, and the importance of sharing kindness, joy and aroha with others. More than 90,000 copies of Escape to Egypt will be given away.

“We really pray these resources will help Kiwi kids understand the true meaning of Christmas and that parents, families and friends will engage with passing it on to the next generation,” said Stephen Opie from BSNZ.

More about Well Good Christmas More about  Escape to Egypt

New Scriptures and a translation centre for the deaf in Nigeria

“I am so happy – the Deaf can now hear God!”

These are the words of Pastor Luke Bello at the dedication of 110 Chronological Bible Stories in Nigerian Sign Language (NSL)* – the mother tongue of most of the country’s one million Deaf people.

Olugbenga Lakanmi

The dedication took place on September 30 during the official opening of the Deaf Bible Translation Centre in Ibadan, a city in south-west Nigeria.

Mr Bello, himself Deaf, is a leader in the Christian Mission for the Deaf Church in the village of Ikire, Osun State. Speaking through an interpreter, he explained how he had been concerned for a long time that there were no Scriptures available in NSL.

So glad to witness this moment!

“I wondered how Deaf people could ever truly understand God and his love for them,” he said. “But now we will use these Bible stories in our language to teach them. We have waited for so long for this, and I am so glad to witness this moment!”

Another member of the Deaf community, Olugbenga Lakanmi (pictured right), was so excited to hear about the Deaf Bible Translation Centre that he travelled 120km from his home in Lagos to attend its opening.

“I feel so great to see the wonders of God! Not only do we now have part of the Bible in our language, but this new centre has been built for our benefit. When we watched one of the Bible story videos we really liked it. It is so much easier for us to understand than trying to read it in written form.” Olugbenga Lakanmi

Just the beginning

As a visible sign of its commitment to serving the largely unreached Deaf community, the Bible Society of Nigeria opened the Deaf Bible Translation Centre on September 30, 2017.

Mr Bello and Mr Lakanmi were among more than 120 members of the Deaf community who attended the event. They were delighted when Bible Society of Nigeria General Secretary Dr Dare Ajiboye, who is passionate about reaching the Deaf and had learnt some NSL especially for the occasion, signed a greeting to them. He explained the Bible Society’s commitment to giving everyone in Nigeria access to God’s Word. He added that the 110 Chronological Bible Stories in NSL and the opening of the translation centre were just the beginning of a project to reach the country’s Deaf people. He reminded the gathering that this work will require much commitment, including ongoing funding.

Management of the project to translate the Bible into NSL was formally handed over to the Bible Society by DOOR International during the event. By 2020, the Bible Society plans to have completed 240 Bible stories or Portions in NSL, which is about 18% of the full Bible.

*The very first Scriptures in NSL – 32 Bible stories – were made available in late 2014.

Story by Benjamin Mordi, Media and Programmes Manager, Bible Society of Nigeria