by Tas Walker
The Word of God has a way of transforming people’s lives because it connects us with the reality of the God who created us and who acts in history, and with Jesus Christ our Saviour. One dramatic story of a people being transformed through Scripture concerns a small tribe of people in Papua New Guinea. It was the Binumarien tribe, and the change agents were Des and Jenny Oatridge, a young couple with Wycliffe Bible Translators, who went to live in a village among the people, with their baby daughter.
It was some ten years later, around 1970, that I met Des and Jenny. They had been busy learning the unwritten language of the people, committing it to writing, and translating the Bible so they could read the Word of God in their mother tongue.
When Des and Jenny moved in, the tribe faced certain extinction. It was probably one of the smallest language groups in the whole of PNG. The Binumariens had been decimated by warfare and expulsion from their tribal land. From an estimated 3,000 people they were only 111 when Des and Jenny arrived, with 10-month-old Ruth. When their other three children were born they too lived in the village over the course of the translation project.
Des and Jenny had purposely chosen the smallest language group they could find because they wanted to demonstrate that God also cared for the weak and insignificant. That was the way the surrounding tribes thought of the Binumarien people….
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