More than 50 years ago in a Baeguu village on Malaita Island, a young boy was suffering from malaria. His father who had animistic rituals for everything in life, tried his best to appease the spirits on behalf of his son. When his son died anyway, he became angry with the spirits who had failed him and he moved the family off the mountain and down to a Christian village.
The family started to learn the ways of the Christian life, including attending church services. Erastus, one of the man’s sons, was about 10 years old at the time. He was given a Bible, the first book he had ever seen. He didn’t know how to hold it, much less make any sense of the lines of English words that filled the pages.
A woman in the church started to teach Erastus how to read the Bible in King James English, one verse at a time. It was hard work, especially since he knew no English, but slowly he began to understand how to read the words.
As he struggled to understand the text, he wondered what it would be like to have a Bible in his own Baeguu language. As he contemplated this idea, he thought that perhaps English was a ‘pure’ language suitable for God’s Word, but Baeguu was not.
Gradually, various opportunities allowed Erastus Otairobo to continue his education. He progressed through grade 3 and later he went to Onepusu Bible School where he became the top student in his class. Sometime later, when Erastus was a Bible student at CLTC (Christian Leadership and Training College) in PNG (Papua New Guinea), a guest lecturer introduced the topic of Bible translation and Erastus began to realize that God’s Word could be translated into Baeguu!
God lead Erastus to return to the Solomons where he was asked to help translate the Pijin Bible. His skills in translation lead to further training as a translation consultant and he helped other language groups in PNG and the Solomons to have God’s Word in their language. But he never forgot his desire to see the Scriptures translated into Baeguu.
In 2008, The Seed Company and Wycliffe Bible Translators asked Erastus Otairobo to head up the efforts to translate the Baeguu New Testament in partnership with SITAG (Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group).
The translation team included Pastor Fred Fono, Fr. Peter Faukona and Paul Saeni and translation consultant Pat Andrews from The Seed Company. Erastus worked on the translation from PNG and traveled back to the Solomons several times each year to work with the translation team to review and check the translation. After the translation was completed, the New Testaments were printed in Korea.
On Sunday 25 March 2018, more than 50 years after Erastus first dreamed of a translation in his own language, Baeguu speakers gathered in Aifa Village in North Malaita to celebrate the launch of the New Testament.
During the launch service, Erastus presented the first copy of the Baeguu New Testament to Irene, the woman who taught him to read the English Bible so many years ago and helped him to start his walk with Christ.
Tim and I have known Erastus and Lois since we first arrived in the Solomon Islands. Erastus was our Pijin teacher. It was an honor to attend the launch and celebrate with Erastus and his family and see the Baeguu people receive God’s Word in their own language.
Erastus’s wife Lois, daughter Delwyn and grandsons, Ethan and Ian, were proud to witness the launch. Erastus expressed his gratitude for the familiy’s strong support throughout the translation process.
The launch was held in a remote village on Malaita Island. From the provincial capital, Auki, we boarded a vehicle at 2 am and traveled 5 hours or so where we were dropped off. From there we hiked to Aifa Village, crossing the Safafa River through knee deep fast flowing waters. Rain fell Saturday afternoon and continued into Sunday.
After the lauch service there was a feast and then it was time to make our way back to the road where we were to meet the vehicle to take us back to Auki. With all the rain we’d had, our local village hosts suggested an alternative route back that only required 1 river crossing. The waters were about waist deep and our local friends helped us walk across. The bush track on the other side was muddy and slippery. At one point, my feet flew out from under me and I put my left hand out to catch my fall and broke my radius near my wrist.
One of the members in our group had a sling, Two local young women accompaying us walked on either side of me. They were strong, nimble and gracious and we made it back to where the vehicle picked us up again. A couple hours later, we stopped at a clinic where a couple of nurses managed to put a makeshift splint on my arm, and we drove on to Auki.
The next morning, I managed to get on a flight that had been fully booked and made it back to Honiara where Tim was waiting for me. We went to the hospital for x-rays and saw a doctor who advised us to come back on Tuesday for an appointment in the ortho clinic.
A few months ago, an Australian married couple who are volunteer doctors at the hospital, started renting the house next door. They are Christians and attend our church and Bible study. David is an ER doctor and has set many broken bones. His wife offered his services when he returned from a trip to Papua New Guinea on Wednesday. A friend picked him up at the airport and drove him to our house. Then we drove him down to the hospital where he sedated me and, along with another doctor, they set the arm. David’s lovely wife, Tracey assisted.
They tell me the arm is not ‘perfect’, but pretty good. Next week I will have a follow-up x-ray to check on things and make sure the bones are correctly aligned and healing well.
Bible translation ministries are getting started in 2 languages in the Solomon Islands! Double click on the link below to download our latest newsletter.
We just celebrated International Literacy Day here in the Solomon Islands. Read our newsletter to find out why this woman is smiling.
Let us know if you have any problems accessing the Pdf file.
Tim and Martha
Click here to download: September 2017 Matzke Newsletter
If you were to come for a visit, we would take you to the Honiara Central Market. You can watch this video (not produced by us) to get a feel for the market: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQqfZNfJjiE
One of the things that is sold in the market along with the fruits and veggies is ‘shell money’. My sister just sent me a link to this video which tells the story of shell money: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73WMzutKrUo
We hope you enjoy learning more about the Solomon Islands!
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Click here to download the story: Matzke Messenger – March 2017
Sarah is a member of the John Brown University Choir. Every three years, the choir travels to Ireland where they have an opportunity to sing and minister. Sarah is excited to a part of this wonderful opportunity. Attached is a letter about the trip and more information about how you can support Sarah through your prayers and financial support. Sarah’s contact info is on the letter and you can contact her directly or ourselves if you have any questions. Thank you! Click HERE to download: Sarah’s trip to Ireland
We are grateful to live in a Christian country where public meetings are opened in prayer, there is a respect for God’s Word and public leaders are not ashamed to express their support.
This week, the Seventh Day Adventist Mission invited us to the launch of the ‘Godpod’ – a small audio player loaded with the entire Pijin Bible.
The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands was in attendance and gave the following speech. In the fourth paragraph, he references SITAG – Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group which the group with which we serve.
SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER THE HONOURABLE MANASSEH D SOGAVARE MP AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE SUCCESSFUL ACHIEVEMENT OF THE GODPOD AUDIO BIBLE PRODUCTION PROJECT, AT THE MARANATHA HALL,
TUESDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2016
Distinguished Invited Guests
President of the Solomon Islands Mission of SDA
Coordinator of the God Pod Project
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to be part of this launching program to mark the successful completion of the God Pod project. Thank you very much for inviting us. We are truly delighted to be here.
It is just fitting at the outset that I take the opportunity to thank the initiators of this wonderful project through the Seventh day Adventist Church.
It would also be remiss of me at this juncture not to acknowledge the efforts of the other Christian denominations and organizations that worked tirelessly to improve the knowledge of God’s word amongst our people.
I mention specifically the work that SITAG has been doing in this country for years in getting God’s word translated to many local languages and dialects. Our people who can read the Bible can now do so in their mother tongue and more importantly understand what it says.
As a Christian Nation, we value the reading of God’s word and parents who are serious about the upbringing of their children have impressed upon them to make bible study a way of life. As a matter of fact Christianity and the different ways it is taught and emphasized to our people has done more to influence the way our people behave and conduct themselves in their work places, and how they relate to authorities.
It would therefore be true to say that Christianity is the single most important influence in the country, and Bible Study is at the center of that influence for better or for worse. This brings up a very important responsibility to people who are entrusted to positions of influence on matters relating to our relationship with God.
I am saying this because religion and denominational barriers have been some of the major courses of division and tension in many parts of the world and Solomon Islands is no exception. This brings up the question on what should be the focus of our study of the Bible.
In answering this question I can only relate what Jesus himself is saying to us in John 12: 8, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me”; or where he said “Search the Scripture for in them ye think ye have eternal life but they are they which testify of me”. It is clear therefore that our duty as expounders of God’s word is to lead people to Jesus Christ. I leave that matter there.
With your indulgence I would like to dwell on the power of God’s Word and its importance in our country in this address. I feel that I have a duty to do that.
Yes God’s word has been around in this country since it was introduced by the pioneer missionaries of our various denominations more than a century ago, amidst an environment of heathenism and all the practices associated with it. This is even before any kind of government system as we know today was introduced into the country.
The Christian Religion through the power of the written word has more to do in transforming the lives of our people from heathenism to the knowledge of the true God and all the benefits that come with that knowledge.
Indeed, civilization as we know today in our country has its beginning in the introduction of the Christian Religion through the working of the Holy Spirit that helped our people to understand the love of God as expressed in the written word.
The seed planted by our pioneers grew and turned viral. More than 90% of our population today is associated with a Christian Denomination. Talking about the transforming power of the word of God, our country stands as a testimony. The seed is still growing and producing fruits.
It is any wonder that the Apostle Peter described the word of God in 1 Peter 1:23, as incorruptible seed because it lives forever. When we have a Bible in our hands, we have something which can communicate the incorruptible seed of God’s Word into our hearts, and the hearts of others. Where this seed is planted, and watered, we can expect there is going to be a result.
My point is, the potential of the seed today is as great as it was when our pioneer Missionaries began planting it more than a century ago.
The great thing about the Seed of God’s Word is that it can be multiplied constantly. We can multiply it by printing it, typing it, speaking it or giving money so that others can do this. As a matter of fact we are gathered here this morning to witness the launching of another way of multiplying the seed- a method that will increase the readership of the Bible by breaking down the barriers created by illiteracy.
We have a Christian Duty not to let the torch of our pioneers growing deem in our love for the word of God. I am saying that because we owe the peace and happiness we enjoyed today to the transforming power of the word of God which our forefathers received with open arms. They deserve our appreciation and grateful heart.
All serious Bible students will testify to the fact that the word of God is all powerful and benefits those who love it in many ways. It certainly brings God closer to us. It reveals the Covenants and Promises of God. It has the power to give new spiritual life and produces faith in the believers. It produces spiritual cleansing and is the means by which God speaks to the hearts of his children. It provides guidance and provides reassurance in times of stress. It brings joy, converts the soul, and gives hope to the hopeless.
It heals the body, minds and emotions, and strengthens us during severe trials and persecution. It improves our society, it betters human relations, promotes personal success and defeats demonic harassments.
I may sound like a wistful thinker in my assertions and I will not blame anyone for thinking that way because these are values and outcome we accept by faith that comes by hearing and reading of God’s Word. It must be experienced for it to have any meaning to a person who seeks God diligently. That is the attitude I would like see developed in our people, and especially amongst our youth population.
This is an issue for Solomon Islands with a population that is growing younger and unless they are properly nurtured, we could be in danger of investing in disaster. We only have to see the events of year 2000 to learn this hard fact.
I want to elaborate on the last three benefits discussed earlier that come to us when we seek the will of God, and when we respect His words and allow Him to speak to us. It is interesting to observe what is happening in nations where many people are turning to the Lord and honouring the Holy Scriptures. You can just see how their society is improving – even economically. Cases in point would be South Korea and China.
It is experienced in these countries that when God’s word prospers in a nation, it eventually brings economic prosperity and blessings to the nation. The reverse is also true. A nation founded on biblical principles but later reject God and His word is in danger of experiencing the withdrawal of God’s protecting hands. My prayer for this nation is that we do not go down that path.
Yes God’s Word betters Human Relationships. It teaches us that our duty is to love the Lord Our God with all we are and have, and our neighbours as ourselves. You see the whole law of God is about treating people correctly according to the principles of justice, mercy and faithfulness. When people live and relate in this way, the way God designed them, then happiness in family and community is the result.
However when God’s word is rejected, we get a lot of human misery, marriage break ups, hurt and rejected children who grow up to hurt and reject others, dishonesty in business, and superficiality in relationships.
Once again we see the tremendous value of God’s Word in making our human relationships better. We can do this because we first receive love from God, who has revealed the message of his love in the Bible.
I have also come to learn that God’s Word Promotes Personal Success. God is not against success. As a matter of fact God does not want us to fail if we are doing what He wants us to do. Of course, success in the sense of achieving what we set out to achieve or getting what we want is not the highest value for God.
I come to learn that doing His will is far more important to God. You see, if our hearts need correcting, or we are running in a path outside of God’s perfect plan for us He may sovereignly work to frustrate us or allow us to be defeated for a season. I can testify to that fact because I personally experienced it and as a result of that experience, I am now stronger in the resolve to put God first in my life.
We can go on and talk about the many blessings that come to us when we love God and respect His Words. But today we are here to celebrate another significant milestone in the effort to place the Word of God in the hands of many people who would not have access to the word of God because they are disadvantaged by their inability to read.
The project improves the availability of and access to God’s word by breaking the barrier created by illiteracy, a perfect example of the church using the era of technology to advance the work of God; it is also a fulfilment of Bible prophecy in our little corner of the world that knowledge (including knowledge of God’s word) shall be increased. We are truly living in the last days.
Indeed, the project goes to the heart of an important aspect of the work that Churches and those entrusted to expound on God’s word are endeavouring to achieve and that is to get our people to have a full knowledge of God. This is a very important point which I would like to briefly dwell on as I bring this speech to a close.
The knowledge of God or the lack of it makes a big difference to the way Solomon Islands and Solomon Islanders for that matter conduct themselves as citizens of our country as discussed earlier; and I want to reiterate the point I made earlier again -.
…It is for this reason that expounders of God’s word have a solemn duty to ensure that the will of God for his children are correctly represented to the seekers of truth. Anything short of that will be doing injustice to our God who is Love and Justice personified. An important step in getting our people to understand God is to have them read or hear the word of God in a language that they can understand. This is where this project comes in.
Illiteracy, lack of understanding, lack of interest and boredom are some of the real challenges we are facing in this country to get our people to take serious matters seriously. Talking about serious matters, there is nothing more serious than the importance of understanding God’s word and how He wants us to live because it determines our eternal destiny. Understanding God’s Word is the key to understanding and knowing God. Knowing God and what that entails is life Eternal.
I am not making that up by the way. Jesus Himself has this to say in that regard in John 17:3… “And this is life eternal that they might know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent”. Breaking down of these barriers is therefore an effort worthy of commendation and something that we must work together to address. It is concern with an important aspect of getting our people to establish a relationship with God.
Knowing God fully appears clearly to be an important task of those who are entrusted to expound on God’s word to our people as stated earlier.
There is another point I want to make here. As a country claiming a population distribution that is predominantly Christian, we do not have to struggle with the law of the land to place the word of God in the hands of our people. We are free to hold public rallies and campaigns to expound God’s word, and organize Bible study groups to participate in deeper understanding of God’s word.
We are free to do all of that without the fear of breaking law. We have all the reasons to thank God for that.
This is a reality that we often take for granted in a country that is so peaceful and the right to worship God freely is protected by our national constitution. There are countries in the world where Christians do not have the freedom we enjoy in Solomon Islands to study the word of God and to worship God without the fear of being arrested as law breakers. I hate the day when that freedom is tampered with in this country and my prayer has always been that God will lead and guide this nation.
Finally, if you are privileged to be the owner of a Bible, you have a tremendously valuable treasure. How much you use it, how much you benefit from it, is up to you.
You see when a person is spiritually and mentally transformed by the power of God’s word, they themselves become a new source of seed to touch their world. This project has that objective in mind. If a person is a “good ground” Hearer the impact of their lives should be 30, 60 or 100 times greater than the original investment of seed planting and cultivation that went into their lives.
It is our earnest prayer that with the launching of this product the more we plant the seed, the more “good ground” hearers it will reach, and the more we become partakers in God’s eternal plan to rescue those whom He has chosen.
God Bless Solomon Islands From Shore To Shore.
This past Thursday, 8 September 2016, was the 50th Anniversary of International Literacy Day and Tim and I participated in the celebrations that were held in town. Years ago, when we first arrived in the Solomons, we helped organize some events for International Literacy Day. It’s gratifying today to see Solomon Islanders organize the event and our organization is invited by them to participate.
Throughout the day, there were different events on the stage. At one point Tim spoke to the audience about the importance of literacy in local languages and read a story from the Pijin Story Bible.
We had a display table covered with New Testaments and literacy materials produced in a variety of languages and a language map of the Solomon Islands. This year we had something new – audio recordings of Scriptures to share with people.
The young man above is a Gela speaker. He was excited to see the Gela New Testament which was dedicated on May 1st this year. Then I pulled out my computer and played an audio file of the Christmas story from Luke in the Gela. You can see that he was mesmerized to hear the story of Christ’s birth in his own language.
Recently we received some small recording devices that are loaded with the Owa New Testament. When an older Owa-speaking man came along, I started playing the ‘Proclaimer’ device and held it up so he hear it.
He began listening, but as it began to sink in that he was listening to something in his own language, his facial expression changed to one of deep concentration. The words were meaningless to me, but the impact on this man was unmistakeable. As I watched his face, I could almost see the wheels turning in his brain as he processed what he was hearing. His eye brows knit together and then his head nodded slightly. It was amazing to see the muscles in his face shift and change as he continued to listen. I was so tempted to take a photo, I didn’t want to disrupt a sacred moment between this man and God’s Word.
These young men serve with a religious order of the Anglican church and travel around the country ministering to people. Tim showed them this larger ‘Proclaimer’ with a recording of the Pijin New Testament. The young men were excited to hear about this tool and could see the potential benefit to their ministry.
A young woman came and looked at the books on the table. One that caught her eye was a Pijin Bible Story book which she wanted to buy for the Sunday School at her church. On our way home, we stopped at the market. As we were walking through the market, we saw the woman who had bought the book and a small child holding it.
While we were at the market, we started chatting with a woman who was selling tomatoes. She is a Sa’a speaker and we asked if she had a Sa’a New Testament. She said she didn’t, but was interested in purchasing one. Since we had a supply of New Testaments in the car, Tim was able to go find her a Sa’a New Testament and she happily purchased a copy.
At the end of the day, we were really tired, but satisfied as well. We had opportunities to share about Bible translations, share audio Scripture recordings and talk to people who want to see a translation in their language.
Our latest newsletter is available. You can read it online or click on the link below to download a pdf copy.
Martha and Tim