Twists and Turns to the Finish Line

Good news! The Mengen New Testament translation has been completed!

Rebecca Preheim, main translator for the Mengen New Testament in Papua New Guinea (PNG), reported that those final few days of translation checking were full of unexpected twists and turns.

In the Nick of Time

“Just as the plane was taking off, the fog was starting to roll in,” Rebecca said. That’s always a concern in mountainous terrain while flying in a plane with room for up to eight passengers. The pilot mentioned that if it had been 10 minutes later, the plane would have been grounded. And for the next two days, bad weather prevented any flights into or out from that airstrip.

The book of John was first on the schedule. After just two days into the translation check, one of the Mengen men came down with malaria. He missed a couple of days of the check, but he was able to recuperate over the weekend. “It was a long and strenuous week, with quite a bit of stress. Thankfully the Lord provided grace and strength, and we were able to make it to the end.” The Lord gave relief to Rebecca for the cold and cough she had been battling for a few weeks. “My voice stayed strong in spite of everything! Praise the Lord for His goodness.”

Loud Trucks and Cow Horns

Next, Rebecca and the three translation helpers traveled to the central area of PNG in order to finish the last three books of the New Testament to be checked: Matthew, Hebrews and Revelation.

One of the days was particularly difficult, Rebecca wrote, “as the three Mengen men are exhausted and are having difficulty concentrating.” She attributed that to the long hours and the noises of the nearby town that kept them from sleeping well. “The place where I am staying is [even farther from the road than where the translation helpers are staying], and even I can hear the loud crashing of trucks on the rough road at night!! … They are from a quiet jungle location where the loudest noise at night would be crickets and croaking toads!!”

God allowed the men the opportunity to see a whole herd of cows with large horns, much bigger (and more formidable) than the pigs and chickens they see in the jungle.

An Accurate Picture of Missionary Life

As I read Rebecca’s last few update letters, I was struck by the fact that the twists and turns she experienced were, in fact, normal missionary life.

Missionaries enjoy the rewards of seeing people come to faith in Christ, seeing them learn to read the Word of God in their own language, and seeing them grow in their faith to spiritual maturity.

But there are also many times that the planes can’t fly in because of weather, or missionaries and translation helpers develop malaria. And most of the time spent in translation and discipleship is month-after-month, year-after-year plain hard work.

All that to say that missionaries need your prayers, most of all for their day-to-day relationships with the Lord.

Through the ups and downs of missionary life, it is only He Who can sustain them each day. As Rebecca wrote, “Thank you so much for your prayers. The battle is the Lord’s.”