Life in Papua New Guinea begets patience. Daily life involves cooking from scratch, washing laundry (either by hand or with a twin-tub washing machine powered by a small generator), keeping relationships alive, and growing through sharing community life. We tend to slow down when the sun is high—our house has no fans or air conditioning. Air conditioning wouldn’t help anyway as our windows are merely covered with screen—no glass. Village life lacks the creature comforts and relative ease that we in the West are accustomed to—the things that reduce the number of hours required to do life.
Ministry also begets patience. When Angela and I first moved to Uria Village in the late 1990s, the Somau Garia language was spoken, but not written. We began by learning the language from scratch, following up by developing an alphabet. We needed to develop written materials so that people could begin the arduous process of learning to read their heart language. What’s more, In order to be effective as ministers of the gospel, we had to learn the culture through a process called participant observation—which takes time and patient endurance. We were in full-on learning mode from 1997 until about 2001, when we began translating the Gospel of Mark, which was published in 2007. So, it was 10 years from moving to Papua New Guinea to publishing the first New Testament book, a span that usually marks the beginning and end of many ministries.
Jesus calls the church to “patient endurance” many times in the book of Revelation—a quality very much needed to see a translation program through to completion. It’s been 26 years since we began this work. We are now in the full production phase of translation.
If you visit our personal website (www.shakethegates.org), you will immediately encounter three words: translation, discipleship, and transformation. These are three strands in a braid of ministry that we believe will produce good fruit for Jesus’ kingdom. We are discipling and working alongside a team of about 12 Somau Garia leaders and pastors. Mark, Luke, and Acts are fully checked. By next year we anticipate having the Pastoral Epistles fully checked along with a number of other letters penned by Paul. We are diligently praying and working toward having the whole New Testament completely translated and checked by the end of 2026 or 2027–nearly 30 years in the making. It is in the Lord’s hands. We will do what we can with the understanding that we make our plans, but He directs our steps.
If you are not already doing so, please consider joining our prayer team. Through informed intercession, you can impact the future history of an entire people. If you’d like to join us, click here.
Angela and I deeply appreciate the partnership with Christ’s Church of Oronogo as we minister together towards the goal of a transformed Somau Garia church equipped with the Word of God in their heart language.
Todd & Angela Owen
Todd & Angela and their family serve with Pioneer Bible Translators. They are living in the South Pacific working to translate the entire New Testament. Currently their team is translating the four Gospels, beginning with the Gospel of Luke.