Mike and Kay are teachers from the USA who are working as consultants training teachers and enriching the education at two schools in the highlands of Papua, Indonesia. He is teaching Bible to 3rd and 4th graders “to give a new teacher a break.” Mike has been using our Plain Indonesian Translation (abbreviated TSI in Indonesian) in his classes. I was thrilled to get this news from Mike:
Yesterday we handed out the Gospel of John Scripture portion during 3rd and 4th grade Bible time in the small highlands village where we help run an elementary school for local children. We showed them how to carefully prefold the pages in the book so that the binding will last longer, and after being done they began it ask enthusiastically, “Can we read it now?” I had planned to read the story with them and teach a Bible lesson, but I couldn’t resist their eager pleas, and they dove in. As I walked around, I noticed what they were reading. They read the cover. They read the page explaining the background information of translation. Some sat with a friend and read in unison. Many read fluently the opening statements of the Gospel of John with a sense of ownership and understanding that was not possible a few years ago.
Many of our students do not personally own a single book. Many of the homes have only one or two books of any kind. One of our teachers asked her students about the situation just this week. One of the students responded, “My father has a book, but I’m not allowed to touch it. It’s his book.” The message was, “Books here are so rare and valuable that children are not allowed to use them for fear that they will damage them.” To get a book, families in the village would need to take a rough three hour ride in a small pickup truck to a highlands supply town with a dozen other people. The fare one way would be the equivalent of two days’ wages. Thanks for graciously giving us copies of John for every child in the class. It means a lot the students here.
The students read eagerly for about 20 minutes and then the questions came again. “Can I write my name in this book? Can I take it home?” “No,” I responded, “we will need to keep these books here to have them to study during Bible class, but I’ll try to get you all one when I go to the coast later this week.” Instead of being disappointed, they were thrilled. I asked who wanted their own copy of the Gospel of John in this new translation and hands shot up. I snapped a photo.
The 2nd picture has a young named Aswin in the foreground. Actually he has changed his name to Daniel as a result of his conversion. He became a baptized believer on the coast about six months ago. He was a severe burn victim years ago could not extend either of his legs more than about 90 degrees so he walked in a queer sort of shuffle to school each day and didn’t play much with his classmates. Late last year he was able to go have surgery so that he could walk normally again. While waiting to return to the village on the coast, he attended a dynamic church where he had a transforming experience with Jesus Christ. He returned confident and eager to lead in prayer and singing Christian songs and with an expressed desire to become a pastor. Now he is beginning to study the Word of God in a translation that is more meaningful to him. It will be interesting to see what part his Bible reading and study here play in his future.
Just behind in the photo is Daniel is his classmate, Azhar. We are not sure where he stands spiritually. He wears his hair long to confuse the spirits about his identity as the first born son. Last year he was moved to tears during video of the life of Christ. When his teacher asked what was wrong, he responded that he was sad because of what had happened to Jesus. He is an excellent reader and devours books. I’m looking forward to putting a copy of John in his hands.
I just wanted to share a bit of the excitement with which we view the TSI. I think that it will be a powerful tool to be used to insure that people both read and understand the Word of God. We eagerly look forward to the day when we can up a TSI New Testament in the hands of every reader at our school. Press on my brothers and sisters.
Mike commented about the teacher that he is giving the break-time to:
“He’s camping out in the class and doing all the projects and memory work with the students. After hearing the story of Jesus at the Passover when he was twelve years old, he commented, “I really like being in this class. I’ve never heard some of these stories before.”