Volcanic eruptions can’t stop Bible translation

Two volcanic eruptions couldn’t stop the launch of the revised Havakinau New Testament, which is now serving an unexpected purpose.

It’s bringing hope to Havakinauspeaking Christians in Vanuatu as they begin the process of rebuilding their lives and homes on other islands following the volcanic eruptions of Monaro Voui on the island of Ambae.

Photo from Vanuatu Daily Post

The New Testament was finally launched a few weeks ago at the Annual Apostolic Women’s Conference where 200 women danced, sang and praised God for the Bible in their mother tongue. Many were tearful as the Havakinau New Testament has encouraged them to hope in the Lord for the day they can finally return to their island. About 11,000 people from Ambae have been relocated to three different islands in Vanuatu.

Some have relocated to Maewo, Port Vila and Santo. Some 2,000 of them are on Maewo but the majority of them are living with their relatives in either Port Vila or Santo. More than 200 of the refugees are actually being housed at the church where the Havakinau New Testament was launched. It is an extremely difficult time for them reported Pastor Lois Fatu, head of a church in Luganville, Santo, Vanuatu. Many have been relocated indefinitely with the women, girls and children sleeping in
the church and the men and older boys in tents pitched on the church grounds. Only last weekend they heard the volcanic ash was reaching heights of 11,000 metres above the crater and affecting gardens on neighbouring islands as well as Ambae itself.

“We pray that God’s Word in their own language will be a help and comfort to them at this stressful time,” said Pastor Lois.

The volcano Monaro Voui has exploded twice, once in September 2017 and then more recently in March this year. In fact, it was just as the consignment of 1,000 New Testaments arrived in September for the second attempted Bible launch that Manaro erupted and the islanders were urgently evacuated.

It was a stressful time for the whole community as they fled to safety, leaving their homes and animals behind, unsure of what they’d come back to afterwards.

Jack Titek, Vanuatu Branch Manager of Bible Society South Pacific (BSSP), said one of the things that kept them going was the thought of returning home and celebrating the arrival of their revised New Testament.

“They felt the launch would be an historic occasion for their people and therefore people really wanted it to take place in their home in the west of Ambae,” he said.

The return home and a second eruption!

And so, as the volcanic activity decreased and more and more people returned home to rebuild their lives, the Bible Society and the churches began making preparations for the launch. But, once again, their plans were thwarted as Monaro started spewing ash and gas, blanketing the whole island. People fell ill, food and water supplies were contaminated and roofs collapsed under the weight of the ash. In April 2018, the Government announced the urgent and permanent evacuation of
the whole island.

Finally – the launch!

So it was with great celebration and fanfare that the Havakinau New Testament was finally launched at the end of August in Luganville on the island of Espiritu Santo. To mark the occasion, 200 women marched around the school grounds singing and dancing with the New Testament in their hands. Then worship, prayers and speeches were made before the New Testament was officially handed over to the people of Ambae.


Te Paipera Tapu (Holy Bible in Māori) celebrates 150 years

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Te Paipera Tapu (The Holy Bible in Māori).

While the first ever Scriptures in Te Reo Māori were published in Sydney in 1827 by the New South Wales Bible Society, this was the first ever full Māori Bible.

A sneak peak at the upcoming Paipera Tapu app, to be released early in 2019.

But the journey of the Bible in Te Reo Māori didn’t stop there.

This edition was followed by three further versions in 1889, 1925 and 1952, as well as a reformatted edition of the 1952 text which was published in 2012.

Then there was Tāku Paipera, the only Māori Children’s Bible storybook available, launched at the end of 2016.

Now, that very first edition of Te Paipera Tapu, first published in 1868, has just been digitised.  And this digitised version will be one of the many tools used to help produce a brand new translation, in more contemporary language for today’s Te Reo Māori speakers.

“Translation of any significance takes time, and anecdotal evidence suggests that contemporary Māori usage is already considerably different from the language of the current Māori Bible.  So we need to be pro-active,” commented Dr Stephen Pattemore, Bible Society’s Translations Director.

A new mobile Māori Bible app is also currently in development and will feature the current Māori Bible text (2012) as well as English Bible translations for people who want to read Te Reo Māori alongside an English text such as the Good News Bible. The new app will be launched in early 2019.

For more about the story of how the Bible was translated into Māori, watch our Ngā Timatanga video.


Sophie Gray; baking for Bibles for China

Nationally-known cook, author, Destitute Gourmet founder and Food Director of Bauer Media, Sophie Gray says Bake for Bibles is a great project for kids, friends and the whole family. And very importantly, the cookies are delicious!

Bake for Bibles is our newest fundraising initiative where volunteers bake Noah’s Ark animal cookies, ice them and sell them to friends and family. Participants are given a free Bake for Bibles pack which contains cookie cutters, a Noah’s Ark presentation box, cookie packets, a booklet (including the recipe), a poster and a colouring-in sheet.

Sophie says, “I think it’s a really fun and accessible way to get the kids involved in a baking project. The animal theme is very relatable and Noah’s Ark is a familiar and popular story, whether you’ve grown up in a household of faith or not.

“So you can invite the neighbours’ kids in to help bake the cookies and tell the Noah’s Ark story and talk about what’s going to happen to the money being raised.”

Sophie also believes Bake for Bibles is a great inter-generational activity for grandparents, aunts and uncles, and Godparents who may have more patience than parents when icing gets sloshed around the kitchen by little children. “Instead they will just enjoy the moment and the connection,” she said.

“Selling baking for money is a time-honoured tradition in the Western World from bake-sales to cake-stalls.”

A Christian since primary school, Sophie likes the idea of getting the Bible to people who need it. “I feel the Bible is almost a symbol of freedom. And the freedom to know God and explore faith isn’t something that’s accessible to everyone in the world.

“So what this project does is put the freedom I have into the hands of others who wouldn’t otherwise have it by giving them a Bible,” she says.

Take part in Bake for Bibles