Damaged airstrip creates obstacle for Bible translation

By May 30, 2012

Philippines (MNN) — A damaged airstrip in the West means an airport simply uses another one. But what if one airstrip is all there is to ensure the continuation of Bible translation?

Bible translators around the globe have a goal: get a translation of the Bible started in every language worldwide by the year 2025. With all the technology currently available to translators and the increased speed of progress, that goal might seem easily attainable, even with 2,000 languages yet to begin translations.

But Bible translation takes more than just sitting down with a native speaker and a Bible. Multiple obstacles must be hurdled. And the hurdles may look different than you think.

In the Philippines, the obstacles don't necessarily come in the form of government limitations or even in lack of willing missionaries. Sometimes challenges come in packages as simple as transportation.

Transportation is especially difficult in the island nation of the Philippines, and without proper vehicles, translation can slow way down. New Tribes Mission is currently working on translating the New Testament for the Banwaon tribe in Mindanao, and their work absolutely demands flight.

"We live in a very remote location in the middle of Mindanao, and to get in there takes about 12 hours of bus riding and then about seven hours of motorbike riding. And that's if the road is in reasonable condition," says NTM missionary Albert Castelijn. "The alternative is a 20-minute flight."

Planes transport missionaries, translators, and visitors to and fro, but they also transport supplies, medical emergency equipment, and other vital materials for translators. So when the airstrip in Mindanao was damaged, NTM had to fix it–and fix it fast.

Without an airstrip, no planes could come and go. But as the group prayed for God's hand on this damaged but crucial piece of land, answers came almost immediately.

"It was just an amazing month to see how the Lord provided so many of the tribal people available to work on the airstrip, how He provided the funds needed for the project, and just to see how it all came together in just that one month," says Castelijn.

After one month of work, the translators can get back to their efforts. They already have 40% of the New Testament translated for the 8,000-person Banwaon tribe, and their efforts have seen a great deal of fruit. Since the 1980's, the tribe has grown from zero believers to 500. With every bit of Scripture consumed by the Banwaon tribe, more people are turning to Christ.

As you pray for this tribe, thank the Lord for the speedy repair of the airstrip–a simple but vital component to this Kingdom work. Pray that translation would continue to run smoothly, and that the Banwaon church would develop and grow.

To learn more about Albert and Lynne Castelijn, click here.

Leave a Reply