Report on the Nggem NT dedication

For over thirty years we have had the goal to translate the New Testament into the Nggem languae. Along the way, we have on occasion heard stories of New Testaments not being accepted or used by the communities for which they were translated, so we have always tried to foster a community of believers that would want and use the Scriptures.

It has been so heartening for us to see how the Nggem people were galvanised into activity when they knew that the New Testaments were being printed. On their own initiative, they raised about half of the approximately NZ$54,000 that was needed to cover the printing costs – no small feat for a small poor tribe. Then as the date for the dedication drew near, Kobakma became a hive of activity – planning, building, sorting out water supply and food for the many Nggem people coming home for the event and guests coming from neighbouring tribes, writing songs, practicing dances, organising pigs for the feasting, and making hundreds of string bags with the theme colours of red, white and black – representing coming out of darkness into the light by the blood of Jesus, and matching the colours of the New Testament.

For us too it was a busy time, as we were delegated to host the missionaries, former missionaries, donors, supporters, and our family who were coming for the event. We had to fix up our old house for people to stay (empty and slowly falling down since 2015), as well as repairs on our new house, plan menus, finances and flight schedules for all the expat guests. We were overwhelmed with generous gifts of fruit, vegetables, and a large pig to feed them!

Over the week before the dedication former Nggem translators and international guests were welcomed with song and dance, crying and speeches. These were very colourful cultural events – with feathers, body paint, spears, bows and arrows – a great occasion to dress up! 

The day of the dedication started early with preparation for the pig feast – 153 pigs to feed the 2000 or so people! More guests were flown in, along with the cartons of New Testaments. These were also welcomed with large crowds, singing, dancing and excitement. One leader commented that he had never seen the Nggem people come together in such unity before.

The church chose Revelation 5:9 as the theme for the dedication: ‘… and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation’.

Being a small fringe tribe with a troubled history many of the Nggem people have had a sense of being ‘forgotten’ and unimportant. The dedication of the New Testament was for them a symbol that God had not forgotten them, that he sees them, cares for them and values their language and culture. And they certainly celebrated their language and culture, displaying great pride in being Nggem, and thankfulness to God and us for bringing them the Scriptures. 

We have felt very humbled and encouraged by the Nggem people’s response to getting the New Testament in their language. It makes it all the years of language work, development projects, health ministry, and becoming part of their community seem worthwhile. Now we hope to see the New Testaments being read and used in homes and churches, impacting people’s lives and character.

Glory to God! Amen


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