What about people that have never even heard about Jesus? They can’t believe in him, right? Somebody has to tell them about him, and then they can believe in him. – Romans 10:14, Plain English Version
For many Indigenous Australians it’s much more common to pass on stories and knowledge orally, rather than in writing, so it’s particularly valuable to have the Bible available in audio formats.
A few weeks ago, I was privileged enough to be part of a week of audio recording in Brisbane. Bible Society Australia (BSA), Wycliffe Bible Translators, and Shiloh church in Brisbane teamed up to record some of the Plain English Version (PEV) Bible, a translation designed specifically for speakers of Australian Indigenous languages.
About 70 per cent of the New Testament has been translated so far, along with half of Genesis and some of 1 & 2 Samuel. Global Recordings Network has recorded most of the epistles, and the BSA is organising the recording of the narratives, using different voices for the various characters.
I am usually in Darwin, working on the translation, and only listening to the recordings after they’ve been done; however, BSA found out that I was planning a trip to Brisbane. They had been in contact with some Indigenous people in Queensland who were willing to be readers, and a church that was willing to provide a studio and sound engineer, so they agreed to schedule some recording for a week I was going to be in Brisbane. God made everything come together, with the project coordinator coming from Adelaide and one of the readers coming from Townsville during his one week of study leave (his classes were online).
I spent the week listening to the PEV being read, checking the words and intonation. It was exhausting, but also really encouraging! Although the translation is designed for Indigenous Australians who speak English as a second (or perhaps fifth!) language, we’ve had lots of positive feedback from Indigenous Australians whose first language is English. One of the main readers said that he’s excited to go back to his church and promote the PEV, and the other said that he’s made it the default Bible translation on his phone.
The week in Brisbane was just a small part of a much bigger, ongoing endeavour, but it was exciting to be a part of it and see a snapshot of what God can do. I went along with the aim of getting a good final product, but in reality God used it to do much more. As I came together with other Christians from around Australia, and we read the Bible and heard each other’s stories, God used it to bless and encourage each one of us.
Kathy Dadd is a Bible Translator for the Plain English Version with Wycliffe Bible Translators.