Sunday, December 03, 2006

Angaatiha SALT

Date and Place: November 13-24, 2006, at Langimar village, Morobe Province.

Team members: Mike Howes (leader), Badi Vila , David Gudiri, Abra Noso, and Susan Sefoyo.

Translators: Ainde Wainzo, James Namaranso (New Testament); Ainde Wainzo and Andrew Jacob (SALT course Translators).

Angaatiha man plays flute at SALT graduation celebration

The Gospel first arrived in the area when three evangelists came in 1957. Richard and Marietta Brett, Wycliffe missionaries, ministered to the Angaatiha people from 1961-63. Ken and Donna Jean Davis, Wycliffe missionaries, then came to live with the Angaatiha people from 1963-67. In 1967, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Ron and Bertha Huisman, began the New Testament Translation with Angaatiha translator, James Namaranso. In 1981, Ainde Wainzo takes over the Angaatiha New Testament translation project; and the Angaatiha New Testament was dedicated on December 4, 2004.

Marietta Brett has continued to provide prayer, mentoring, and financial support to the work in Angaatiha; this report would be remiss if her steadfast loyalty to this people were not acknowledged.

Group discussion during Angaatiha SALT course

The Gospel came to this people group less than 50 years ago. The first group of Angaatiha believers was baptized in 1960. Ainde Wainzo was among the third group who were baptized in 1963. These are first generation Christians! Currently there are two denominations in the area: ELC (Evangelical Lutheran Church) and ALC (Association of Local Churches).

Based on the 2000 Census, there are 2,100 people in the Angaatiha language group, 1,800 of them live in the valleys around Langimar. This people group is growing, although there seems to be a high mortality rate of young parents, leaving many families with only one parent.

Susan Sefoyo, our youngest Certified SALT Instructor, teaches about the Character of God

Course highlights: Some months before the SALT course, Ainde Wainzo started translating the Jesus film (based on the book of Luke) into Angaatiha, in hopes of stirring interest in the Angaatiha New Testament. After completing a significant portion of this work into the vernacular language, Ainde called a meeting to get a committee together to assist in organizing and planning this work. No one came! Ainde scheduled another, and another, and still no one showed up. Four meetings were scheduled, yet no one attended. Ainde was disappointed and confused and he abandoned the project. To Ainde’s surprise, when he proposed a SALT course, there was interest in this! Initially about 50 participants signed up for the course. But, when the course was completed, 96 had graduated.

Angaatiha men listen attentively to SALT teachings

The community was extremely positive about the course. Each day the course started at 7:30 AM with praise, worship, and a short devotion arranged by the SALT planning committee. At 8:00 the participants enthusiastically reviewed the previous day’s lessons for about 45 minutes.

Angaatiha women are thirsty for the Word of God

The Angaatiha people were so enthusiastic about outreach that all six groups did outreach Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday (some groups taught all day Saturday). In one area, a local sorcerer threatened to club the outreach leader (his nephew) if the team came to preach the Gospel. So, when this team got close to the hamlet, they stopped and prayed. The sorcerer did not harm the team; however, he did lock most of the men in the small village in his house during one of the outreach sessions so they could not hear the Gospel message. When the team left, Joshua, the leader called out to the sorcerer that they had come in the love of Jesus, that he had refused to welcome them, and they were now leaving. The sorcerer ran out of his house, broke down and cried, and asked for forgiveness!

Angaatiha SALT course was held in a local church

Approximately half of the entire people group was involved in SALT either through attending the course or the outreach sessions.

Results: Literacy appeared to be at a moderate level in the vernacular language; and, the fluency improved as the course progressed.
The Angaatiha people were extremely thankful for the course. During graduation speeches the chairman of the regional Lutheran churches even paused and asked the SALT team leader, "When will you come back to do another course?" The Translation Committee Chairman sent a letter to SIL administration requesting two more courses in 2007 and 2008.

96 participants received a SALT certificate

Many said they did not understand before, but now they understand. While it is difficult to know precisely what this referred to, it is believed most were speaking of "The Father Heart of God," "The Nature of Sin," and "The Grace of God in Salvation" lessons. In their evaluations of the SALT course, many participants said that all the lessons were helpful. Many stated that the course lessons "pierced their heart;" some said that they had recommitted their life to the Lord.

On the last day of the course, during the review of the lesson "Walking in Forgiveness" one of the participants asked another person in the class to forgive them. This was followed by another and another. Before it was finished, about eight different individuals or groups had requested reconciliation with someone else. This included one lady giving up her land rights to another; as well as two different denominational leaders reconciling with one another.

Please pray that the Angaatiha people will continue to study their vernacular Scriptures and apply the Word of God to their daily lives!

*This report was written by Mike Howes.
**Photos by Mike Howes.