A Sweet Celebration of Reading

As the excitement grows about progress on the Enga New Testament (PNG), the local churches are taking the initiative to hold literacy classes to teach people to read in their own language. In this way the people are prepared to read the Scripture portions as each book is translated into Enga.

Volunteer literacy teachers from the church write letters and words on the chalkboard, and murmurings can be heard around the room as people bravely repeat the sound for each syllable and form them into words. Slowly the words are mastered and put together to make sentences. Smiles light their faces as they become fluent enough to read short stories and then longer passages from the Bible.

During a recent graduation ceremony, more than 40 individuals, representing three churches, gathered to celebrate the completion of the literacy course. Many of the graduates were middle-aged or older and had not had the opportunity to learn to read when they were children. Being able to articulate the words on the printed page for the first time in their lives was certainly a reason for celebration!

Translator Adam Boyd stood before the group and read aloud Psalm 119:103, which in Enga reads, “The sweetness that happens when I read your word surpasses the sweetness that happens when I taste honey.” Next, each graduate came forward to taste a spoonful of honey. They smiled at the delicious taste, and rejoiced to know God’s Word is even sweeter than this!

As they left the ceremony, each graduate held a brand new copy of the Gospel of Matthew printed in the Enga language. With no mother tongue libraries and very limited access to Enga books, this Gospel will be a treasure to each of them and a means for all of the graduates to continue improving their reading skills.


New Life

New life
My prior ways
Have been
Slaughtered and torn
My future awaits me
In joy and celebration
For my happenings
Are built around
The firm
Physique of my faith
I found my Soulmate
This means I’ll be
Seen and loved
And believed in
By the One Who
Conceived the world
Yet perceives me
As being worth more than
Every ruby on this earth
Has been resurrected
And we’ve gained
An awesome Savior
My Father suffered
The pains of labor
And the excruciations
Of my delivery
Are eased
Through the medication
Of salvation
He’s brought forth life
New young
Newly sprung
And His pains
He saves
Just to see a smile
On my face
Is the Lion
Of blinding lightning
That delights
In feeding His cub
With love
And nurtures me
With wisdom
Till I inherit
His kingdom
I’m never prepared
To be weaned off
His Spirit
And I’ll keep immature
Till He rears a warrior
He is Brother
Seeing me as a child
And like wild in the west
He uses His immense
As a defence
Against my enemies
And all negative things
He is Husband
I submit my life to Him
And in return
He gives me gifts
To keep me lifted
And His every breath
Shelters me
From the life-like death
Of meaninglessness
No other name
Do I whisper at night
And no other name
Spoken from the smallest
Of voices
Creates choices to
Send astray our darkest days
Change our load
To the lightest weight
And be reshaded
By the brightest of rays
What other name
Can make me feel inside this
No other name creates
A yearning so strong
I will offer myself
As a living sacrifice
Produce choirs of delight
Then close my eyes
In fear of His might
What other name
Can produce so much love
I will throw a life of sin
Back at the devil
And revel in what
With the name of
I find real strength
And the truest meaning
Of this thing called life
Nowhere else
For He walks before me
At a pace I can just about
Comprehend and
He is the Lion
The Brother
The Friend
He is
The Lion
The Brother
The Friend
Watch my new life
As His soul transcends
See this rebirth
As His Light descends
Renewed and newborn
I am born again

Copyright laws and the Bible

In 1901, the American Standard Version was copyrighted and printed by Thomas Nelson & Sons. It was the first Bible translation to be copyrighted in the United States. Now, it is also the version that Wycliffe Associates (WA) is using for a copyright-free version of the Bible for global translation.

The bulk of the Church around the world cannot access the resources they need to translate for themselves, explained Tim Jore, WA’s director of translation services. Copyright law worldwide reserves the right of translation for the owner of the content. This means the global Church is in a dilemma unless each one of them is given a custom contract from the owner of the Bible translation they want to use.

Copyright issues are one of the greatest remaining challenges we have, said Greg Pruett, president of Pioneer Bible Translators (PBT). Many of the minority languages are related to nearby major languages, which leads to questions of whether minority translations are derivatives of someone else’s intellectual property. In a number of ways, copyright issues limit our ability to distribute remaining translations, he said.

WA’s solution is called open sourcing or open licensing. WA translators have created an updated English version of the American Standard Version, whose copyright expired in 1957. The translators are collaborating with Christians worldwide to translate it into 50 gateway languages. These versions are free for anyone anywhere to use, as long as they attribute the original source, and as long as they release translations they make from it under the same license.

It sounds like it’s new, but it’s actually the oldest, most established approach to Bible translation distribution through the history of the church, Jore said. What’s new is the concept of restricting access to the Bible using copyright. For the first 19 centuries of the Bible’s existence, restrictions were never applied to it.

Blaine Smith, associate publisher of Bibles at Tyndale House Publishers, disagrees with Jore’s assessment. (Tyndale holds the copyright for the New Living Translation and the Living Bible.) Christians have been protecting the gospel since it was codified, he said. The official translations of the Roman Catholic Church were protected by the imprimatur. The KJV was protected by the King of England himself.

The headaches of open sourcing range from irritating to heresy, Smith said. The KJV, for example, is copyrighted only in England. In the United States, it has been updated hundreds of times under the same name, so one person’s KJV might not match another’s.

Worse, a small change can lead to a doctrinal divide, Smith said. After all, Luther’s reinterpretation of “do penance” as “repentance” helped to ignite a reformation. And the KJV translation used by Jehovah’s Witnesses mutes Jesus’ divinity.

Copyrighting the Bible isn’t about staking claim to the words God has written, said Carl Moeller, CEO of Biblica. Moeller’s group holds 85 copyrights for Bible translations around the world—including the New International Version. It’s to ensure that the Word of God is transmitted faithfully over time and over distant lands.

Imagine if Coke was sold by dozens of different companies that used different labels and slightly different recipes, Smith said. Open sourcing is like that. No one’s minding the store.

WA sees it differently: it says everyone is minding the store.

Any time a technology is created that enables more people to publish, average quality initially drops, Jore said. When Guttenberg invented the printing press, the ease of printing meant large amounts of new content, much of it of poor quality. But eventually, the cream rises to the top, he said.

The worst-case scenario has already played out, he said. After Luther changed “do penance” to “repentance,” a Catholic scholar switched it back.

Luther’s translation is still with us today, Jore said. The other translation was discarded centuries ago.

To cling to copyright as a way to preserve biblical integrity is a red herring, he said. The real issue is identity. As long as readers know where a translation originates, they can judge whether it’s trustworthy.

But choosing a Bible isn’t like choosing between a Honda and a Toyota, Moeller said. It shouldn’t be seen like, Do I trust this publisher or this text? Those kinds of things are very dangerous. People don’t know who to trust. They look to the Word of God to be the authority. I don’t feel comfortable exposing cultures to translations that one day will sort themselves out.

Next to protection, the biggest reason for copyright is finances.

The Bible says that a worker should be paid his wages (1 Tim. 5:18), and Bible translation projects can take multiple years and cost millions. But those wages don’t have to come from sales or fees, Jore said. WA uses alternatives like donations or business partnerships to finance its translation work.

That model doesn’t work for everyone, Pruett said. Groups that rely on donations can afford to be less restrictive with their content, but those that rely on revenue have to be more locked-down.

It’s not that they’re trying to enrich themselves with Scripture, he said. If they gave it away, they’d cease to exist, and there would be no more Scriptures developed and distributed in the languages they’re working in.

Besides protection and revenue, copyrights give organizations ownership, which PBT uses to give away content. You can’t give away what you don’t own, Pruett said.

Tyndale uses copyright profits to support Bible translation work in languages that could never afford a translation from a commercial standpoint. There is a tremendous amount of good that comes out of Bible revenues from ministry-minded publishing houses, Smith said. But we have to have a profit side to help fund our not-for-profit side.

In the midst of the debate, others are feeling out a third way.

Creative Commons licensing allows a publisher to walk a middle ground, with three switches you can throw whichever way you want, Pruett said. Organizations or individuals can allow others to use their work, choosing one of three conditions: that any use is attributed, that it isn’t used for commercial gain, or that it isn’t used for a derivative project.

Everybody is charting this course the best they know how, he said. It’s good that somebody is experimenting with each of these.



(1) The name is first mentioned in Ge 4:18-24. Here Lamech, the son of Methushael, is named as the last of the descendants of Cain. He was the father of Jabel, Jubal, Tubal-cain, and Naamah. As the husband of two wives, namely, Adah and Zillah, he furnishes the first recorded instance of polygamy. It is very instructive to note that this “father of polygamy” at once becomes the first blustering tyrant and a braggadocio; we are fully permitted to draw this conclusion from his so-called “swordlay” (Ge 4:23 f). He does not put his trust in God, but in the weapons and implements invented by his sons, or rather these instruments, enhancing the physical and material powers of man, are his God. He glories in them and misconstrues the Divine kindness which insured to Cain freedom from the revenge of his fellow-men.

(2) Another Lamech. is mentioned in Ge 5:25,28 (compare 1Ch 1:3; Lu 3:36), the son of Methuselah and the father of Noah. His words (Ge 5:29) show the great difference between this descendant of Seth and the descendant of Cain. While the one is stimulated to a song of defiance by the worldly inventions of his sons, the other, in prophetical mood, expresses his sure belief in the coming of better times, and calmly and prayerfully awaits the period of comfort and rest which he expected to be ushered in by his firstborn son Noah. He was 182 years old at the birth of Noah, and survived that event 595 years, making his total age 777.

Early Christians Were Called Atheists

One of the accusations against early Christians was atheism. Monotheism was not the norm in antiquity. It was an anomaly. In the ancient Mediterranean world virtually everyone agreed that there were many gods and that each home, association, city, ethnic group, or empire might have its own deities. Few were concerned with denying the legitimacy of other gods. The Christian focus on one God seemed the equivalent of denying the gods altogether. Christians refused to worship the traditional gods and also, judged by Roman-era criteria, they didn’t seem to practice even a recognizable form of religion. In the first couple of centuries Christians had no shrines, temples, altars, images, sacrificial rites or priesthood. Therefore early Christians were called atheists.

Names of Christians

Names Of Christians in early ages, are manifold, besides those found in the N.T. Thus the Church fathers used various appellations in describing Christians: Catholics, for while the Church remained one and undivided, it was properly called Catholic; Ecclesiastics, men of the Church; Dogmatics, men of the doctrine; Gnostics, men of knowledge. The names of reproach and derision heaped upon Christians were almost endless. The following are of importance in illustrating the condition of the primitive Church: Jews, for at first they were regarded merely as a Jewish sect; Nazarenes, always used in a bad sense; Galikeans, a name used by Julian the Apostate, who died with these words on his lips, “Vicisti, O Galilaee;” Greeks, for by the ancient Romans this was a term expressive of suspicion and contempt; Magicians, Sibyllists, from their being charged with corrupting the Sibylline books; Sarmentitii, from the fagots with which fires were kindled around martyrs at the stake; Senaxii, from the stake to which they were bound; Parabolani, from their being exposed to wild beasts; Βιαθάνατοι, self-murderers, because of their fearlessness of death; ῎Αθεοι, atheists; Νεώτεροι, new lights; , Σταυρολάτραι, worshippers of the cross; Plautinae prosapiae homines, pistores, men of the race of Plautus, bakers (Plautus is said to have hired himself to a baker to grind in his mill); Asinarii, worshippers of an ass; Abjecti, Creduli, Fatui, Hebetes, Idiotce, Imperiti, Lucifugae, Simplices, Stulti, Stupidi, etc.

The Divine Equipment

Wait for the promise of the Father. The great Head of the Church addressing its leaders. The Son of God speaking to those who themselves should receive power to become the sons of God, and to lift up the world into a Divine household. In the infancy of the Church all depended on simple obedience to orders. Immense evil from not waiting for God’s time and preparation. Here are the two guiding lights – the promise unfolding the prospect, the commandment marking out the way.


1. The extent of it. “The Father’s promise;” infinite as His love. Though faith was demanded, because sight of the future withheld, still the voice was the voice of infinite assurance.

2. The nature of the expectation. “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” The gift already tasted, known by experience. We cannot be without “the earnest of the Spirit” if Christ’s. We yet must look for a fuller baptism, especially as meeting responsibilities and trials, anticipating work and fruits.


1. With the word of promise in mind, expecting the fulfillment, “not many days from now.”

2. In fellowship with one another and in prayer, that the heart may be open to the gifts, that they may be poured out upon all.

3. At Jerusalem, where the two dispensations meet, where the main action against the kingdom of darkness can best commence, where the facts of the gospel have already preceded you, and you can build on the foundation laid in Zion.

4. In self-renunciation and faithfulness, not in slothful indifference or depression. While we make the best of present opportunities, the larger open to us. Do the work of the day in the day, and so wait for the Promise of the Father. Individually, here is encouragement – grain of mustard seed will grow. Our Father must desire growth in us. Collectively, many applications – prospects of the Church and of the world. The true method of gathering in the masses, not by departing from Jerusalem before the time, but waiting till we are able to send out into the unconverted world the energy bestowed upon us.

Waiting for the Promise

It may be asked whether we are to expect that in all ages, a sufficient number of men will be raised up, bearing the primitive marks of a call from God, and of gifts from God; and our reply would be simply, “Remember the ten days.” There we see men whose commission had come from the lips of the Lord Jesus, whose training has been under His own eye, who have forsaken houses, and lands, and all that could bind them to secular avocations, who are ready to set forth upon the work of calling and warning a world that is “lying in the wicked one”; and yet day after day the inhibition lies upon them, that they are to wait until they are endued with power from on high. As we look at that spectacle — sinners dying, time rolling on, the Master looking down from His newly-ascended throne on the world which He has redeemed, seeing death bear away its thousands while His servants keep silence — there is in that silence a tone which booms through all the future, warning us that never, never, under the dispensation of the Spirit, are men to set out upon the embassy to Christ, be their qualifications or credentials what they may, until first they have been endued with power from on high, been baptized with tongues of fire. Better let the Church wait ever so long — better let the ordinances of God’s house be without perfunctory actors, and all, feeling sore need, be forced to cry with special urgency for fresh outpourings and baptisms of the Holy Ghost, to raise up holy ministers, than that, by any manner of factitious supply, substitutes should be furnished-substitutes no more ministers of God, than coals arranged in a grate are a fire; or than a golden candlestick with a wax taper, never kindled, is a light.

I have decided to follow Jesus – Sundar Singh (1889-1929)

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, no turning back.

– Sundar Singh (1889-1929)