A plump moon radiated silvery beams off the serene sea onto the sheet depicting the JESUS Film in the Siar-Lak language. A crowd on the grass watched the life and message of Jesus for the first time with attentiveness and emotion.
One person bent over and asked a member of the media team who helped produce the film, “How did those people in the movie learn our language?” The video communicated so clearly and naturally that people thought the characters had learned their language—evidence of a job well done!
The JESUS Film was one piece of fruit produced from Lauren and Connie Runia’s third and final advanced media training for the local Islands media team in Papua New Guinea, which was funded—both the travel and equipment—by generous gifts to JAARS from people like you. The Runias accompanied the team on a three-and-a-half-hour ride in a small-engine boat to Lambom Island. There, Lauren mentored the team through dubbing the JESUS Film in the Siar-Lak language.
A local team has been translating Scripture for the 2,400 Siar-Lak speakers for over 20 years. Due to many challenges, they’ve printed only the books of Luke and Mark and have struggled with discouragement. One of the media team members, Stanley, is a Siar-Lak speaker and has been assisting the translation team in addition to his media work. Stanley was extremely excited to have the JESUS Film dubbed in Siar-Lak; he anticipated it would bring awareness and support to the translation work and encourage the Bible translation team.
Many Siar-Lak people, young and old, came to observe the team’s recording, which they completed in just over a week. The team invited the locals to come inside their studios—a room in the translation building and a small room below the village pastor’s house—to watch. They especially encouraged the curious young men and boys to come and stand behind the recordist to observe what they were doing on the computer. The local people were amazed that the team had the skills to be able to do the recording.
At one point, Stanley told Lauren and the others, “You didn’t know who the people were that you were inviting to come in and watch, but many of those young men never come to church and have no interest in Christian things. But now they have been telling people in the village about what we’re doing and are eager to see the film when we’re done.”
While recording one afternoon, Mark, a Siar-Lak speaker who read the parts of Jesus, stopped. It was getting later in the day, so Lauren asked if he was tired and needed to stop for the day.
Mark said, “No, I’m not too tired. These words of Jesus just touch my heart. I’ve been trying to hold back my emotions this week as I’ve read Jesus’ words, but right now I couldn’t continue and had to stop.”
Mark later shared how he had skipped meals and stayed up late to practice and think through how best to speak Jesus’ words in his language. Mark knew how important it was to do Jesus’ part right; he felt honored and privileged to have been chosen to do the Savior’s role.
God used Mark’s and the media team’s hard work. The film filled the Siar-Lak translation team with renewed hope and encouragement. They told Stanley that as soon as he returned from the team’s last bit of training in Kokopo, they wanted to have a meeting about speeding up the Bible translation and get it finished. Lauren said, “This JESUS Film has stirred up a huge amount of excitement and interest in seeing the translation happen.”
While at Kokopo, Stanley received a call from his wife informing him that two young men had given their lives to Christ as a result of the JESUS Film and the team being there. What exciting and encouraging news!
One job—dubbing the JESUS Film into the Siar-Lak language—has been completed. Another job—finishing the translation of Scriptures into Siar-Lak—remains to be finished.