Between 80 to 90 percent of the residents of the Vanuatu (approx. 234,000 people) belong to the Christian faith, but many do not have Scriptures in their own language and many find it hard to read other languages. The literacy rate ranges between 30-60% in some districts or provinces within an island nation, with some slight variations on the literacy rate depending on location of the people as well as the infrastructure in place. Research and proven testimonies from various island communities have confirmed that the reading of Scriptures in one’s own dialect or language during church worship and gatherings really contributes immensely to people’s understanding of the Scriptures.
Although English, French and local trade languages provide a measure of mutual intelligibility, they are not fully adequate for many people’s spiritual and worship experiences. The Bible Society translation projects, therefore, supports translations of the New Testament, the Old Testament, and Scripture Comic translation and printing in a variety of indigenous languages, for use both in church and for personal devotional reading.
The need to communicate God’s Word through the various languages/dialects of Vanuatu is great although the number of speakers of each language may be relatively small. This is the heart of mission of the Bible Society: to reach every community with God’s Word and it is always effective when helping people read the Scriptures in their mother tongues.
The team in Vanuatu is focusing their efforts in mission in the two main arrears;
1. Church relation
2. Bible Engagement & Bible Advocacy.
More efforts was done in the past through Bible availability and accessibility and not enough on relevance of Bible in our community
2018 Bible translation work;
The Vanuatu translation are working on the following translations;
1. Hano NT
2. Ngunese Bible Revision,
3. Ahamb Gospel of Mark,
4. and Mele NT
SCRIPTURE COMICS; The Bible Society also supports the translation and production of Bible comic story books into a variety of languages in Vanuatu. The value of these brightly-coloured and illustrated comic books is their attractiveness to all; adult’s, youths and children, which encourages them all to read and to learn the message of God’s love in a fun-filled way.
For some of these languages, these comic books may be the only Scripture they have ever had. In addition, the process of translating the comic books provide valuable experience to new and developing translators, as well as producing a quick, encouraging result for the work done.
Vanuatu languages : Bislama, Axamb (Akamb), Hano, West Ambae, East Ambae, Tanna Nth, Uripiv, Aulua, Tisman, Wala, Melken (Nebotkete), Vava, Nganiang, Lingarak, Big Nambas, Unua, Uleveu, Hokai, and Pago.
The Bible Society addresses the spiritual need of the communities in Vanuatu. Majority of the people in Vanuatu are reading the scriptures in their own languages for the first time as there very limited written materials available in their language.
The people will have better understanding of God’s Word when it is in their own mother tongue. There is ease of reading it on their own and when worshipping together. The scriptures are also the only way the languages of the people are preserved for the future.
Other Translation works;
Havakinau New Testament 1,000 copies have arrived and waiting for launching. Most people on the West of Ambae have been evacuated by the government from the island in August 2017 due to recent increased volcano activity to Level 4.
Recording of the Old Testament continues in partnership with FCBH.
Jesus Film Script training continues by Jesus Film in partnership with Bible Society & SIL. Some projects are currently going through the recording of Jesus Film that have completed translated script of the gospel of Luke to assist churches in as a tool to evangelism. During this process we hope to encourage language groups which do not have translations to start with this project and move toward having a Bible Translation Project in future.