Scripture reaching more languages

Sunday, November 11, 2012
Charlie Butts (

Sleeping Coconuts is the title of a new book by missionary translators John and Bonnie Nystrom.

Nystrom, JohnThe pair had been working in Papua, New Guinea, for the last 25 years doing Bible translation.

"In 1998, we'd been working in Arop village for about ten years, when a tsunami came through and wiped out that village, killed a third of the people who lived there," John Nystrom shares.

"When we heard about it the next day, we heard from a pilot who had flown over the village and he said There's nothing left there but sleeping coconuts -- and that was kind of a hybrid English and Melanesian pigeon phrase that really meant there's nothing there but coconuts lying flat on the ground."

Nystrom and his wife had been working on an Arop translation of the Bible at that time when approached to translate two more languages -- an offer they initially had to decline because of the complexity of translating just one language. But after the tsunami, the attitudes of everyone involved changed, and they worked together to find a way to make it happen.

"Now, we're not just translating one language, but 11, and that idea has spread to other parts of the country," the missionary tells OneNewsNow. "In fact, in the future it's our primary strategy for reaching the 300 languages in Papua, New Guinea, that have no Scripture at all using cluster projects, where we have multiple translators working in multiple translations all together as one team working together."

It usually takes 15-20 years for one translation, but through using the concept born after the tsunami, 11 languages will be tackled all at the same time. That will be helpful in other areas of the world, because about 2,000 languages spoken by about 350 million people have no Scripture in their own language.

Sleeping Coconuts tells the whole story.

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