We have been celebrating the publication of the Anmatyerr Mini-Bible in style!
This new attractive volume is the fruit of 18 years of labour by David and Ming Fang Strickland (SIL and Wycliffe Bible translators), who have been working with Finke River Mission pastors and locals at Ti Tree over that time. They have been cooperating with the FRM over many years, assisting the church as well as doing translation. In 2002 the FRM bought a house at Ti Tree for them to rent.
Four celebratory events were planned, across three Sundays in a little over a month in four different locations.
The first one held was at Nturiya Lutheran Church at Ti Tree Station on 28 March. The people showed deep appreciation for having a substantial volume of Scripture in their own language for the first time. They expressed their thanks to the Stricklands, for the first time on a public occasion. They were feeling both happy and sad at the same time, as they had recently buried their beloved Pastor Haines, and remembered other pastors who had gone to be with the Lord, who were not there to see this special day.
Those who had been involved in the translation were presented with Bibles by FRM support worker Malcolm Willcocks, who also officiated. A suitably decorated cake was brought from Alice Springs and everyone had a small meal, furnished by visitors who came from town. The church was decorated with a banner of photos illustrating the story of the translation project.
The next instalment was at the Alice Springs Lutheran Church service on 18 April, which coincided with the 500th anniversary of Luther’s famous speech at the Diet of Worms in 1521. This was certainly an apt occasion to hold the Mini-Bible launch, as an affirmation of the Sola Scriptura principle of the Reformation.
Pastor Paul Traeger took the service, and school teacher and translator Seraphina did a Bible reading in Anmatyerr for the congregation. Dr Philip Townsend, the new director of SIL Australia – Timor Group, gave a blessing. Also present was Paul Kube, representing the Bible Society, Paul Kube. A carload of folk came down from Ti Tree that morning to attend, returning again in the afternoon for a baptismal service there!
The next launch event was held on 2 May at Laramba Lutheran Church. Again it was a happy occasion, with the church filled with about 50 locals and the numbers swelled by a big contingent of visitors from Alice Springs. The sad note was that an important elder, Mr J Cook, from Mt Allan had passed away that week.
Pastor Ronnie McNamara was present to see the Anmatyerr Mini-Bible, the outcome of his original request at a Pastors Course meeting way back in 2000. Pastor Paul Traeger again officiated, as Ronnie’s eyesight was not good enough to read for the occasion. David told the story of Ronnie’s involvement and how he used to visit Laramba whenever a new draft was ready. Ronnie did his checking of the translation drafts, sometimes down at the nearby creek, or at another suitably quiet and shady spot.
The fourth and final launch was scheduled for the same afternoon at Mt Allan, but it was cancelled due to Sorry Business, the traditional mourning period. So let us pray that another suitable day can be found to hold this last launch, and that it would be a fitting occasion and lead to blessing for that community as well.
We especially ask for prayer that the translated Scriptures will be accepted by all the people there, that the launch and service will be an encouragement to them and that the new Scriptures will inspire them to follow the message contained and that new leaders will emerge.
David Strickland is a SIL Bible translator.