This Is It!

By Rachel Greco

What kind of gift would you give friends you hadn’t seen in years? Robin Rempel chose to give her friends a gift that will keep on giving long after she’s gone.

Robin recently returned from Papua New Guinea (PNG), where she spent two months field-testing the Story Producer App. This recently developed app enables local language teams to translate simple Bible stories into their language and share them with friends and family in a video format that they can view on their mobile phones.

Robin had served in PNG for about twelve years, so she was excited to see old friends. “Before I went,” Robin shares, “I asked the Lord to open doors so I could go to all corners of the country because it’s extremely diverse, especially in regards to the languages spoken.” And God answered this prayer! He took her to every corner that she could reach in a reasonable amount of time, from the rugged jungles on Manus Island in the north to the glass-clear waters of Alotau in the south.

At Wewak, a town in the northwest of the country, Robin trained a Papua New Guinean couple, Ken and Rosa, to use the Story Producer App. For about 30 years, the pair, from two different language groups, have been translating the Bible into Manambu, the language that Ken grew up speaking.  A generation ago, Robin had helped them develop literacy materials and train teachers in their village on the Sepik River, which is heavily infested with mosquitoes and crocodiles.

Robin and Rosa

Later, after Robin had left PNG for an assignment in East Africa, Rosa and Ken moved from their village into Wewak for health reasons. Ken is now only about two years away from finishing and typesetting the Manambu New Testament. He told Robin during the training, “I’ve been worried sick because we’re about to print the Scriptures, but literacy rates are still very low.” And because Ken’s been working remotely, he hasn’t been able to help his people engage much with the Scripture they already have.

Robin trained Ken, Rosa, and two other people from Ken’s language group in how to use the Story Producer App to create Bible story videos.

As he was completing his training, Ken said, “This is it! This is my Scripture engagement strategy!” The people can easily share these videos via Bluetooth with anybody who has a phone. And they don’t even need to know how to read, since the Bible story videos are both audio and visual. According to Robin, “Ken was so relieved to finally have something that he could share with his people in a format they could access and digest.”

Ken’s wife, Rosa, is from a language group called latmul-Palimbe, some miles downriver from Manambu. These people have no materials in their language other than an outdated, poorly translated New Testament from another dialect they can’t understand. Rosa has done some literacy work for her language, but they need Bible materials.

The Iatmul-Palimbe team recording their voices for Bible story videos.

Before the App training for the Manambu language, Rosa just “happened” to bump into Pastor Alphonze at the market while buying food for Ken’s team. With a spur-of-the-moment request, Alphonze agreed to drop everything and help produce Bible story videos in their latmul-Palimbe language. He even called a pastor friend, Tonny, and asked him to come a day’s travel into Wewak from the village. Just like that, the Lord orchestrated another event so that Rosa and other latmul-Palimbe speakers could also learn to use the Story Producer App. These Bible-story videos are the first published Bible stories that their people will receive in their language!

The Manambu team translating on the Story Producer App

In the Sepik region where Ken and Rosa live, some of the minority languages are suffering and being taken over by Tok Pisin, a widely spoken trade language. Ken, Rosa, and Robin are hoping that these videos will help strengthen and revitalize their languages, and even help the younger generation learn some words in a context that they can hold onto with visuals.

Thinking back to Ken and Rosa, Robin says, “I wanted to bring my friends a gift that would continue to be fruitful.” What greater gift is there than God’s transformative Word, especially when it comes in a package you can easily open and understand?

 Join us in praying for those who receive Bible stories via the Story Producer App, that God would use the stories to deepen their hunger for him and transform their lives.