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Siawi Bible dedication a triumph of God's faithfulness

Missionaries Linda Krieg and Jason Swanson share their perspectives on a long-anticipated event.

The Siawi Bible dedication was a celebration of God’s triumphant grace; a beautiful illustration of Christ building and nurturing His church. And missionaries Linda Krieg and Jason Swanson were there, along with many others, to be awed by God’s masterful work in all the details.

Often the mornings in the Siawi village are cloudy, making it impossible for a plane to land. “But the morning of the Bible dedication,” Jason says, “as I walked up to the village from the airstrip at 6:15 a.m., I was so thankful to see the mountain ranges all around us and the cloud layer way up in the sky about 2,000 feet.”

Linda adds, “The Lord provided good weather, allowing the NTM Aviation and MAF planes to safely make many trips in and out, bringing people and the precious cargo of Bibles. The usual heavy tropical rains held off and high clouds gave some relief from the glaring sun.”

The first arrivals were some of the many missionaries who have ministered to the Siawi people through the years.

Every planeload received a joyous welcome from the Siawi people, complete with flowers and head decorations.

“It was hard to recognize everyone,” says Jason, “because most of the Siawis had painted themselves up and wore costumes … some were more traditional consisting of red or brown mud, black ash and grass skirts.” The celebration attire also included many women wearing headbands made of flowers while some men wore headdresses made from flowers, skins and feathers.

By God’s grace, Jason says, “Everything happened just as planned and at about 11:30 the airplane landed with the last guests and the Bibles.”

“It was the arrival of the Bibles that got the biggest crowd response,” Linda adds. “With a swirl of shouting and dancing, the people circled the plane, carrying the decorated racks for the totes that contained the Bibles.”

Then, with great pomp and ceremony, and accompanied by four Siawi men playing guitars, the Siawi people carried the Bibles to a gathering area. The program for the dedication service had been planned entirely by the Siawi elders and church.

“One of the first things was to give out the Siawi New Testaments, one at a time, to every person who spoke Siawi and could read,” Linda shares. “They had decided to include both believers and unbelievers. Each Bible was solemnly passed from hand to hand, down the line of missionaries who had served the Siawis, including the Swanson children.”

“The Siawi believers thought that maybe the Lord would use His Word to grip the hearts of unbelievers and cause them to repent,” adds Jason.

And while this hand-to-hand presentation was a great visual representation of the handing off of God’s Word to the Siawi people through the missionaries, Linda continues, “It was emphasized over and over that, while the missionaries were involved, it was God and God alone, Who made it possible for the Siawis to hear of His plan of salvation.”

The program also included a powerful skit illustrating the hope that arrived in their village when God’s Word was brought to the Siawi people and the transformation that the gospel had made in their lives and culture.

Of course everyone knows a celebration must include a feast. Linda shares, “All the cooking pots of greens cooked in coconut milk with ramen noodles, squash, sweet potatoes and dried fish or smoked pig were set out on a bed of banana leaves for the big feast. The ladies had worked all morning, getting this ready ahead of time, so that they could attend the ceremony, too.”

With big pots of rice added in, there was plenty of food to feed all the people in attendance, including visitors from six other language groups.

The project of translating the Siawi New Testament has spanned decades. There have been great challenges, many discouragements, and frequent, long delays. But God’s faithfulness and grace have persevered and have triumphed. And more than anything, the celebration was about this great faithfulness of God and about His grace triumphing over all attempts to sidetrack or stop the process of Siawi Bible translation.

Linda, who has spent many years ministering to the Siawi people and working on Bible translation in their midst, says, “It was hard to say goodbye the next day, knowing that this was very likely my last time in the Siawi village.” And yet she departs with joy and thankfulness, knowing that “the Siawis are just as conscious as I am … that the Lord has blessed and upheld us!”

Jason adds, “The celebration was a good picture of what Heaven will be like. I can’t help but praise God for His faithfulness; His faithfulness to see His Word translated into the Siawi language despite all the struggles; … His faithfulness to work in Siawi lives. … He is still at work maturing the Siawi church and gathering more Siawi people into His fold. Thank you so much for standing together with us as we see Christ’s church being built.”

Tags: Asia-Pacific, Mission News, Prayer, Papua New Guinea Siawi People,
POSTED ON Aug 22, 2013 by Cathy Drobnick