Missionaries Mike and Faith Turner, who are serving with the international organization, Wycliffe Bible Translators, recently provided information and inspiration at the March meeting of the Edna Corley Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) at Claremore’s First Baptist Church.
More than 25 local WMU members gathered to welcome the Turners who presented a program summarizing their service as Scripture Use Workers in Papua New Guinea (PNG). This rugged and densely-forested island country of about 8 million people is located north of Australia and shares a land border with Indonesia.
“When we travel to small rural villages, many of which are relatively isolated, we enjoy developing relationships with Papua New Guineans, including leaders and members in small churches,” Mike Turner related.
“One of the ways we do this,” Faith Turner explained, “is leading Sunday School workshops to help local church volunteers learn ways to use games, memory verse activities, nature crafts, and readily-available materials to help children learn stories from the Bible.”
Simple drama activities also are encouraged, she said, to help children re-enact and remember Bible stories.
The various hands-on, creative activities are used, the Turners explained, because of the linguistic diversity of more than 800 distinct languages in the country, many of which have no written language.
At least 300 of the languages of PNG have no access to either oral or written translations of the Bible in their specific language, which creates additional challenges.
The work of the Turners in Scripture engagement with PNG villagers is a part of a larger team of the Wycliffe Bible Translators organization in the country, including pastoral care specialists, teachers, Bible translators, and linguistics and literacy specialists, among other roles.
When the translation process is completed in specific languages, the Bible—or parts of the Bible—may be distributed as an audio recording in addition to book form. The Wycliffe Bible Translators organization makes available these audio recordings on hand-held solar-powered devices which are rugged and simple to use, according to Mike Turner.
The positive reaction from many villagers when the Scriptures are translated into their language is reflected in the following statement from a Papua New Guinean magistrate: “We need to use God’s Word in our own language. Then God’s talk will bring peace within the family, peace between clans, peace in the nation.”
Wycliffe Bible Translators, USA, which is headquartered in Orlando, FL and sends workers to many countries around the world, states as its mission: “To see a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one by 2025.”
Research indicates that among the 7,000 languages in the world, 2,200 people groups do not have access to the Bible in their language.
Following the program, WMU members expressed appreciation to Mike and Faith Turner with a love offering for their missionary work.
More than 40 members carry out the First Baptist Church group’s numerous local service projects. WMU meetings are scheduled for the first Wednesday of each month in the homes of members.
“Meetings are open, and we welcome anyone who wants to be ‘on mission’ to share the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ and serve others in the community, nation, and world,” stated Sandy Lindsay, president of the local group.