Since our first involvement with New Caledonia in 1990, we have been very aware of the potential translation needs. Only three of the 28 Kanak languages have the whole Bible – and those are now in out-of-date language, having been published in the 1800s – and only two more have the New Testament. We got a great boost a couple of years ago when long-term Wycliffe members Gary and Glenys Sweetman moved into new roles with the Seed Company and were also enlisted to help with New Caledonia.
Last year, we used the Bible Storytelling techniques we had learned at workshops in New Zealand, and told a couple of stories to a Paicî congregation and a Cemuhi congregation. The listeners were riveted and responded with verbal exclamations and encouragements. After Marietta told the story of Jesus’ resurrection in French, Paicî translator Jacques told it in Paicî and asked a Cemuhi speaker to tell it in Cemuhi.
Oral learning is such a natural thing for them, they were able to translate and tell the story on the spot. Someone from a Western background would need a lot more preparation!
When Ian told a story from Acts in Paicî to a Paicî congregation, it certainly livened up the atmosphere! You could tell that people were avidly following the story. After the service, people were keen to buy the New Testament in Paicî!
The recent OBS workshop in Auckland gave us great insight into how to run a workshop in a New Caledonian context. Emphasis was on the spoken word, and those who attended not only absorbed everything being demonstrated, but added their own cultural flavour as well. Two young men, Koko and Billy, attended from New Caledonia, and very quickly took to storytelling. Pray for them as they use storytelling back in New Caledonia, and talk with their pastors about the idea of running a workshop in Noumea. With the contacts in their network, this has great potential for connecting with people from language groups around the country.