God’s word in their heart language

Bible translations for the Kodi and Mori

New work and revised versions for Indonesian communities

Distracted when they don’t understand

Imagine what it’s like for a pastor to preach in a dialect different to the one spoken by his congregation. People in Indonesia’s Southwest Sumba region speak Kodi and one church leader can actually see his people tune out when they don’t understand.

“When I preach in Indonesian or the closest dialect, the congregation mostly keep chewing betel leaf and areca nut (a local habit),” shares this Kodian pastor. But there’s an opposite reaction when, instead of using the liturgical language, he speaks in their heart language. “It is a different story if I preach in Kodian; they are seriously listening to my preaching.”

It’s easy to understand then what it will be like for the Kodi people to read and hear God’s word in their own language. They have long prayed for this precious gift. While the two major local languages in Sumba already have some translated Scripture, Kodi does not.

Thanks to the generosity of supporters, Bible Society Australia has helped the Indonesian Bible Society (IBS) start work this year on the first ever Kodi Scripture translation. The New Testament in Kodi is expected to be ready by 2025.

Mori updated translation

In Central Sulawesi, Pak Josep had never imagined he would become a Bible translator. But out of his love for God’s word and his own language, the former carpenter joined the team updating the Bible in Morian.  A quiet man, Pak Josep say he is so thankful to be in the team. “I do not have any theological background, but I translate the Bible. What a privilege!” he says repeatedly.

Morian, unlike Kodi, already has a New Testament. It was first published in 1949 and contains many words which are no longer in use. In 2004, the Indonesian Bible Society began work on a contemporary version, and published an update in 2010.

The translation team enjoys working together and praying for one another and for the project. Sometimes,  workshops can become heated as they discuss the best word to use, but this debate helps with a better translation.

One man who keeps a close watch on accuracy is Pak Marto, the coordinator. He speaks Morian too, and understands the struggle when they cannot find the exact word or phrase to use. Neither does it help that there are 32 dialects in Morian. “We decided to use the Ngusumbatu dialect which is the lingua franca among the Morian.”

Despite the challenges, Pak Marto focuses upon the eternal difference that the translation team can make. “I become enthusiastic when translating the Bible. I imagine that my work with other team members will be a blessing to the Morian [Bible] which will be read by our future generations.

You too can help the Morian and Kodi translations through your support of this vital work.

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