Wycliffe Associates hopes to launch up to 100 new language projects in Papua New Guinea. It's the largest and most comprehensive bible translation effort in the history of the country.
Brent Ropp is a Wycliffe spokesman for the effort, which is taking place in the Sepik River Region.
“The reason this is such an important project is because these communities are primarily the ones that are still involved in ancestor worship and other issues related to spiritualism and so forth,” he says. “They're a group of people, tens of thousands, that still are literally living in darkness.”
They have immense fear and hatred of one another and of people from the outside.
“This is the kind of situation where, until just this last generation, these communities were involved in cannibalism and so forth,” Ropp says. “And so this opportunity to reach 100 new language communities with the Good News of Jesus Christ is incredibly important.”
A total of 836 living languages are spoken in the South Pacific island nation, representing about 12% of the world's languages. It currently takes about $18,000 a year to translate and develop the Bible in a new language, but thanks to modern technology and the assistance of native speakers, that number’s actually down from about a quarter million dollars a year.