Indonesian people group gets New Testament after 200 years

By June 29, 2012

Indonesia (MNN) — The Helong people of Timor, Indonesia were introduced to Christianity about 200 years ago, but in all that time, they have never had a translation of Scripture in their language.

When the Good News first came to the Helong, the king and many of his subjects were baptized. But since then, the Bible has usually been taught in the national language of Indonesian.

The problem is: the national language does not communicate clearly to the people. So pastors usually translate the Scriptures into Helong on the spot during services.

Not having a translation of the Scriptures written in the heart language of a people can cause all sorts of doctrinal issues. Even for people like the Helong who might understand Indonesian, it does not have the same effect as the Word being accurately translated and written in Helong.

The Seed Company reports that to remedy this centuries-old problem, a large group of people came together to create a written translation of the Bible for the Helong. Mother-tongue translators, farmers, university professors and pastors all came together to help in the translation process. An added benefit of the pastors' participation was that the pastors were able to use the translated materials immediately in their ministry to Helong speakers.

Now everyone can use the translated materials because the New Testament translation is finally complete. The goal was to translate the New Testament and Genesis, and it has been met.

More than just meeting the goal, the dedication of the translation last month allowed the team an opportunity to share Christ right away. Prior to the dedication, team members visited the vice governor of the Timor province — who is also a Helong speaker — in his Kupang office and delivered an advance copy of the New Testament for him. He was excited and agreed to assist in promoting the event.

There are a lot of exciting opportunities ahead of the Helong now. Pray that many more Helong speakers would come to understand what Christ has done for them now that they know He speaks their language.

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