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NT community to get first ever copies of NT

Coming soon: Scripture translated into Kunwinjku

There is a buzz of anticipation in the community of Gunbalanya, about 360km from Darwin, across the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

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After three decades of work, the first copies of the New Testament in the Aboriginal Kunwinjku language are starting to appear.

“Our language has been given to us from God.” – Lois Nadjamerrek

The formal launch of the Kunwinjku Bible will take place on August 1. The 2000 fluent Kunwinjku speakers in Gunbalanya – and other parts of the Territory – then will be able to read the New Testament plus Genesis, Exodus and Ruth in their own language for the first time.

One of the first people to receive an advance copy was Lois Nadjamerrek, who worked on the translation for more than 20 years.

When Lois started out as a Bible translator – working alongside Steve and Narelle Etherington, missionaries and Bible translators from the Church Missionary Society (CMS) – she didn’t know much about the Bible. Now, she’s an ordained Anglican minister, and a Christian leader in Gunbalanya (also known as Oenpelli).

“Our language has been given to us from God, so sharing the word of God in my language so the people can hear God calling them in their heart language is very important,” Lois says.

“I keep thanking the Lord. I’m looking forward to the celebration of the Kunwinjku Bible coming to my homeland. The time has come for my people to hear a lot more about God and the love given to us through Christ.”

“What a privilege to see Lois receive the word of God in Kunwinjku.” – Matt Pearson

The Etheringtons began working on the translation in 1984 through CMS, partnering with many local translators including Lois and picking up on translation work that has been ongoing since the 1930s. Now, CMS missionaries Matt and Lisa Pearson are moving into Gunbalanya to help local people read the Bible. Matt says he already has two young men who want to read the Bible with him.

“What a privilege to see Lois receive the word of God in Kunwinjku. We have a lot to give thanks to God for – and we’re asking that this message of hope will be kept safe by reliable people, and passed on to the next generation,” says Matt.

As well as publishing the Kunwinjku Bible, Bible Society is also working on Bible engagement tools that help the community read it, including resources for kids.

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