Nothing Can Deter Them
Not even a volcano eruption could stop Elias Tokau and the Ata people in Papua New Guinea from dedicating their audio New Testament.
The Ata New Testament had been recorded—on equipment provided by JAARS—by the Islands Scripture Media Ministry (SMM) team. Lauren and Connie Runia had trained this team with support from JAARS. The Ata community had wanted to dedicate their Scripture for a long time. But various obstacles kept arising: flooded bridges prevented people from traveling to the language group; church leadership changed; communication was difficult due to poor mobile phone coverage in the area; and Mt. Ulawun erupted, in a nearby language group, spewing volcanic ash.
But the Ata people would not be dissuaded. They set the dedication date for August 15, 2019. Elias Tokau, the field coordinator for the SMM team, planned to fly to the Hoskins, West New Britain airport on August 13 to deliver the much-anticipated Ata audio Scripture.
To his dismay, when he arrived at his local airport, Elias learned that a deluge of volcanic ash from Mt. Ulawun’s nearby eruption had closed the airport in Hoskins. Undeterred, Elias decided to travel to Rabaul, which is about 43 miles from the airport.
He found a ticket on a ship leaving Rabaul that afternoon. So, in a rather roundabout way, Elias was able to arrive in Uasilau village with the Ata audio Scripture. The people were ecstatic to see him carrying their New Testaments. All the churches of the Ata language community had come to celebrate this beautiful day when they could finally hear God’s Word in their own language! Various choirs came to sing hymns in their language. What a beautiful day God allowed to happen through the dedication and determination of his people!
Elias also helped organize the dubbing of the Fanamaket JESUS film. This was SMM’s first dubbing project on their own without the mentoring of Connie and Lauren.
On the 26th of August, Stanley Gereo, one of SMM’s recording technicians, left his village on a dinghy to reach Muliama village in the Fanamaket language area. On his way, he encountered strong winds and ended up traveling on the sea for five hours. From Muliama, he had to travel on the back of a truck to get to Sena village where his teammate, Bennis Tuka, met him to do the dubbing.
Both Stanley and Bennis were nervous since this was the first dubbing project they would do on their own.
They found that the Fanamaket language community had organized themselves well with good readers for all the characters in the film. Within five working days, they completed the dubbing and then spent the following three days editing the film. According to Lauren, “They did a great job! Both the recording and the final editing was done so well, which [is] a testimony to God’s enabling and blessing on the training and partnership we have with JAARS and others.” Your generous support enabled this partnership to happen. Thank you!
The night before their departure, Stanley and Bennis were encouraged to witness the Fanamaket speakers gathering at the field near the beach to watch the very first film in their own language. Many of the people expressed appreciation for the team’s dubbing of the JESUS film in their language.
Praise the Lord that neither volcanos, road conditions, nor fierce winds can deter these people’s thirst for God’s Word!