The Tonga Contemporary Old Testament project is progressing steadily since it started in October, 2015. It all began with a weeklong translation workshop conducted at the Toutaimana Catholic Centre in Nuku’alofa, Tonga. This project is quite unique in the sense that each workshop participant from various Christian Churches had to work with a computer as modern technology is now adopted to speed up the translation work. It is a moving away from the old practice of writing translation drafts on separate books to doing translation on the computer right away. At the end of the workshop, all the participants were encouraged to start translating a book from the Old Testament. This was led by the former Bible Society Tonga Branch Chairman, the Reverend Lopeti Taufa, and the newly elect chairman, Lord Afu’alo Matoto. A follow up workshop on Paratext (computer software used) carried out in April 2016 at the same venue was very useful to the Tongan project team. An exciting development this year is the recruitment of a key translator and Theological College lecturer, Rev. Dr. Ma’afu Palu, to serve as the Project Translation Advisor in 2017 whilst undergoing training in this field under the Bible Society’s Translation Officer training program at the same time. The LORD is to be praised for the work progress so far which also reflects the great input and commitment from the project coordinator, Bill Falekaono. In addition, big Bill had also displayed his big heart by purchasing two laptop computers recently in October, which are now used by two potential translators/reviewers on the project. On the completion of this project, it will be joined to the already published Tongan Contemporary New Testament (commonly known as the ‘Taulua’) to become the Tongan Contemporary Bible. Almost 65% of the Old Testament books have been drafted so far.
More than 300 people converged at the Nailaga Methodist Church on Sunday 4th December 2016 to witness the launching of the “Tuxutuxu Vina sa Vola xo Marixa – ena Tata vaxa-Ba” (Gospel according to Mark in the Koronubu-Ba language). Receiving the first scripture booklet in the Western-Fiji itaukei language at this historical occasion was the prominent chief of the province, the Gone Marama na Tui Ba, Adi Senimili Cagilaba. She thanked the Bible Society and everyone who worked tirelessly on this special project. It is the first of its kind and more books of the New Testament will be translated and published in the coming years. The support from the ‘vanua’ and the Churches in Nailaga Ba was tremendous. Many people showed a lot of excitement about this project especially when the gospel is written in the new writing system of the Fijian
itaukei language; for example, the adoption of ‘x’ instead of ‘k’ to specifically sound out the guttural ‘kh’ (or ‘chet’ in Hebrew). God’s Word in the Koronubu language is indeed a timely Christmas gift for the Ba community in this advent season.
A meeting with the Church leaders of Niue (EKN) about an agreed way forward for the development of Niue scriptures was carried out in Niue during the visit of the Bible Society General Secretary, Mr Solomone Duru on 9-13 August, 2016. The meeting was held at the EKN Headquarters in Alofi, the capital of Niue. The meeting discussed various concerns on the Niue Bible including the copyright, printing, e-copies, piracy, and version to be put online. The forum also discussed the way forward for the Niue Hymn book. The key church leaders present were the EKN President, the Reverend Vili Viviani and the General Secretary, the Reverend Nukanuka. The women members of the meeting had a strong voice too which was helpful. The make-up of the meeting comprised of Church executives, pastors and government officials. At the end, a positive outcome was the keenness of the church to revive the Bible Society Committee again which has not been functioning for about 20 years. The Bible Society now looks forward to working together with the Niue Church in the future by making God’s Word available in other agreed formats for the Niue community.
The Society’s Annual Donors’ Dinner was held at the Holiday Inn in Suva on the 28th of November. A little more than 100 people attended the fundraising event which was a success. The Every Home for Christ Ministry Regional Director, Pastor Manasa Kolivuso, was the Guest speaker for the evening and spoke on the theme for the evening, “God’s Word – Living Hope for All”. As a Bible Society donor himself, he challenged everyone at the Fundraiser to
support the Bible work in Fiji and the Pacific. Ongoing Bible-a-month donors were acknowledged and the invitation extended to potential donors present that evening as the Society continues to seek new donors who are willing to commit themselves to praying and giving towards the ministry. Also acknowledged were a number of long time faithful supporters of the Bible Society work who have passed on to be with the Lord.