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God’s Word Comes to Soba

Celebrating a completed Bible translation

SOBA, PAPUA—A three-day celebration in a village in the highlands of Papua, Indonesia, marked an important milestone for the Hupla people: the translation of God’s Word into their native language. This process began in the 1980’s … but MAF has served this village even longer. “The story of MAF’s involvement goes back 40 years,” said David Holsten, MAF’s regional director of Indonesia. “We’ve had the privilege of serving here that entire time.”

Celebratory running / chanting in Soba.
Celebratory running / chanting in Soba.

Hundreds of people from the surrounding areas poured into the small village for this celebration that involved dancing, the roasting of 275 pigs, the baptism of 26 people, and a ceremony that represented the Bible reaching all generations. When the first box of Bibles was opened, a Bible was given to three representatives: a young man to represent the younger generation, a woman to stand for all women, and an older man to represent those who have waited a long time for the entire Bible to be translated.

MAF pilot Mike Brown holding a Hupla-language Bible. Story photos by Mark & Kelly Hewes.
MAF pilot Mike Brown holding a Hupla-language Bible. Story photos by Mark & Kelly Hewes.

“This is exciting stuff for us, because we’ve been partnering with these folks here in Soba, with the missionaries who have been working years and years on this translation,” said MAF pilot Mike Brown. “It’s been great to be able to come and join them in this celebration.” MAF staff, the missionaries, and local church leaders are excited about what this new chapter will mean for the Hupla people.

“My hope is that they’ll treasure God’s Word and that Hupla theologians will start to appear to analyze their own situation and what’s important,” said Sue Trenier a UFM Worldwide missionary who was an instrumental part of the translation team. Sue served in Soba from 1978 to 1997 and now lives in nearby Wamena.

Baptisms took place during the three-day celebration in Soba.
Baptisms took place during the three-day celebration in Soba.

The biblical author Isaiah writes that God’s Word “will not return void,” that God will accomplish what He pleases. This celebration makes it clear that the Hupla people are excited about the work God is accomplishing among them.

“Now, I’m feeling like I’ll be able to learn more deeply about God’s Word,” said Kenuel Sobolim, the son of one of the Papuan translators. “When I sit with my own people, we’ll be able to read it together.”


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