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West Arnhem Workshop

By Lindsay Parkhill, NRCC Resource Worker

If you fly over Western Arnhem Land, it appears to be vast areas of wilderness with little sign of human habitat. But looks are deceptive. There are many people in different language groups calling this area home, and exciting things have been happening in the church there.

Last year, at Marrkolidjban Homeland, about 80km south-west of Maningrida, 22 new Christians were baptised. I caught up with the church elders Jimmy Jalburali and Kenan Namurndja, and found them expressing a deeply felt need for God's Word in their own language, Kuninjku. Kuninjku is a strong language spoken in a number of actively Christian communites where the cross of Jesus has been raised and praise to God in Kuninjku song is heard daily. People are hungry for God's Word in their language.  However, the facility for Bible Study is limited as it has to be done in a language that is not their heart language. Doing Bible Study in English does not reach into the heart. There is some translation done in Kunwinjku, a neighbouring language, but this also has proved inadequate. So these elders asked if the Scriptures could be translated into their own language.

CSIS formed for the support of people groups just like this. So AuSIL, an organisation in partnership with CSIS, provided the computer as well as the software 'Our Word'. At the end of May, three Kuninjku people headed to Jabiru to be trained in using the software, and the translation began. It was exciting to watch the very first words of Scripture being translated into Kuninjku. Work began with the translation of Mark chapter 5, the story of the Gerasene Demoniac. It is still very early days for this project and these folk need your prayers.

Please pray that this work will continue, and that more language workers will become involved in the daily routine of translation work.