In the north-east of Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern Territory, work is underway to digitise the Bible in the Gumatj language.
Bändil, a senior Gumatj woman who loves the Scriptures and is passionate about God’s Word, has volunteered to compare and correct 'the digital' to 'the original' translations.
‘I need support, prayer and encouragement’
Unfortunately, however, Bändil has often felt overwhelmed by the task, as there aren’t many people in the community who can help. As she says, ‘I need support, prayer and encouragement.’
Coordinate, one of MAF’s partners in Australia, aims to encourage and facilitate the translation of the Bible and Christian materials into indigenous languages.
In November 2015 and March this year, MAF flew Coordinate members to Yirrkala, where Bändil lives. On board were Margaret Miller and Ŋändama, who are both part of the East Arnhem Scripture in Use team based at Elcho Island. They met together daily, encouraged Bändil, offered practical support and prayed for her mammoth task.
Louise MacDonald, Coordinate’s Resource Worker, explains: ‘The combination of geography and culture mean that transport is an essential part of all our Bible translation projects. Yolŋu people don’t work in isolation, they work as collaborators, and that means having to travel in order to do their work.
‘When the area they are travelling to is inundated for much of the year by monsoonal floods, and many translators live on islands, the only option available for us is aviation. MAF enables these projects by providing flexible flights with a deep commitment to Christian ministry.’
Expressing appreciation on behalf of the team, Margaret Miller says, ‘Thank you MAF for enabling this band of encouragers to join with Bändil in Yirrkala to assist with the checking required for the Gumatj New Testament digital files being prepared for Internet access.’
Many translators live on islands, the only option available for us is aviation!
Bändil, full of smiles, describes how the week in March went, ‘We got Yindi djäma (big work) done this week as we read through Mark. It was great to have Ŋändama here to encourage and support me.’
Another opportunity to get together is already planned, and the ladies are excited about continuing this important work.
For Peter Higham, from MAF Learning Technologies, ‘It’s a privilege for MAF to partner with organisations like Coordinate that have a vision to encourage and facilitate Bible translation and other resources into indigenous languages.’