Celebrating the Launch of the Gospel

Celebrating the Launch of the Gospel of Mark & the book of Obadiah in the Ahamb language, Vanuatu.

Ahamb (the language name is alternatively spelled Axamb, Akhamb or Akamb and pronounced with a velar fricative) is an Oceanic language and as such, a part of the Austronesian language family. It is spoken by approximately 800 people primarily on the small low-lying Ahamb island (covering only 0.3 sq km) off the south coast of Malekula, the second largest island in the Republic of Vanuatu in the Southwest Pacific. Malekula, with its population of just 23,000, is one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world with more than 30 vernacular languages spoken today. Ahamb, together with a few other languages including Unua, Lamap, Uluveu (Maskelynes) and Avok, form the Southeast Malekula linkage. Ahamb shares many cognates and structures with these languages but their mutual intelligibility is not sufficient to consider them dialects of the same language.

Sociolinguistic factors

Virtually all speakers of Ahamb are bilingual in Ahamb and Bislama (a dialect of Melanesian Creole), the national language of Vanuatu. Some Ahamb speakers also speak English. French is not commonly spoken. Bislama is the more prestigious language and the language of choice for trade and communication with the authorities and people from other language areas. It is also the more common language for church services. Bislama and English are used in teaching at the local primary and secondary schools. Ahamb is mostly used at home and for everyday purposes and sometimes for custom ceremonies. Ahamb borrows heavily from Bislama and code switching is common.

Ahamb is a predominantly spoken language with very few written sources, including a handful of songs and a short Bible comic story published recently. There is no established standardised orthography for Ahamb yet.

Although it is passed to virtually all children living on Ahamb island, the language is considered endangered due to Bislama being the dominant and more prestigious language and the limited domains, in which Ahamb is used. Other socioeconomic factors that contribute to Ahamb’s endangerment status include migration due to climate change (more frequent and severe storms and cyclones and the resulting erosion), overpopulation and the general effects of globalisation.

Translation Background:
For Apenisa’s input

Travelling to the Launch
Pastor Bernard the Mission Coordinator and Elder Jack Rueben Manager of the Bible Society of the South Pacific Vanuatu Mission travelled to Ahamb for the launching on the Thursday 22 November 2018 on Air Vanuatu flight from Port Vila to Lamap transit from Luganville in.  Landing at Lamap they then travelled by boat to Ahamb and arrived at 3pm in the afternoon.  We were advised that there was a dead in the village and we went shared our sympathy with the family and Pastor Bernard offered a prayer for the families.



Launching of Ahamb Language Gospel of Mark and Obadiah

The launching of Ahamb language gospel of Mark and Obadiah was part of the  program of  the Church Service to close the church program of the year 2018.  There were about  500 people in the church during the church service in the morning and Pastor Paul Morris led commissioning of 15 young communicant members and closing of the Sunday school program for 2018. The Church was filled with children.  Church Elders were holding a copy each of the printed Gospel and marched in to the church for dedication by the Inter-Moderator of Ahamb.

In his speech Elder Jack Reuben congratulated the community and acknowledged those who have contributed.  Elder Tomansel and Marian and 2 boys who have helped with review and corrections before the printing. The occasion marks an important history of the island.  Elder Reuben reminds the people that this is the beginning of more work yet to be done with other books of the New Testament yet to be translated. With the assistance of more translators to join the translation work the translation will be completed soon. A list of all the New Testament books was been given out on the day and many volunteers gave their names showing interest in the Bible translation work.


The church leader response expressed their appreciation to the work of the Bible Society in producing this gospel for the very first time they can read God’s Word in their own language 

Marian above one of our proof readers, with a pen and paper collecting names of new translators. 


Elder Reuben thanked the Bible Society and for all those who supported Bible work in the Pacific for funding the first part of the work of Ahamb Translation and funding the costs of the printing the Gospel of Mark and Obadiah and for the distribution to the community as first achievement of translation of Ahamb New Testament. 

He reported having identifed more translators to help with the work of translation of the New Testament which they hope to achieve in the next 4-5 years.


To some elderly and young people of today this is the first time they have ever had a copy of a piece of scripture in their own mother tongue.  They are happy now they can read the Bible in their own mother tongue for the very first time.

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Scripture Distribution

5.6 billion people now have the full Bible in their language

Here is the good news: about 5.6 billion people have access to the full Bible in their language.

But here is the not-so-good news: More than half of the world’s languages still have no Scripture at all. This is the encouraging and challenging overview of the Bible translation landscape at the start of 2019.

Of the 7,350 languages in the world, the full Bible is now available in 692 languages used by 5.6 billion people. That means around 1.5 billion people do not have the full Bible in their language. However, 1,547 languages used by 805 million people have the New Testament, and shorter portions of Scripture are available in a further 1,123 languages used by 411 million people. That leaves 3,988 languages used by 246 million people without any Scripture.

Nine1 of the languages which received full Bible translations for the first time in 2018 were completed by United Bible Societies (UBS), which places high value on the translation of the full Bible. Together, the nearly 150 Bible Societies which make up UBS have provided just under three quarters of the world’s full Bible translations.
1One of these Bibles involved support to a partnership project.

Translations launched by Bible Societies in 2018

In 2018, working closely with churches and partner organisations, Bible Societies continued to make a significant contribution to the global Bible translation landscape, completing Scripture translations in 66 languages used by 440 million people.

44 of those languages, used by over 77 million people, received ‘first’ translations: 9 communities welcomed their first full Bible and 15 got their first New Testament. 20 language groups received their first, or additional, portions of Scripture.

The dedication of the revised Havakinau New Testament in Vanuatu was an emotional moment for a community facing a very challenging time. Volcanic eruptions on their home island of Ambae last year led to their urgent evacuation to other islands, and delayed the launch and distribution of the long-awaited New Testament. Many may not ever be able to return home because the volcano could remain active for the foreseeable future.

People wept as they listened to the new Scripture being read out loud, and they sang and danced as they held their New Testaments and prayed for their future. The revision will help people engage more deeply with the Scripture text, which will help their faith to grow, noted Kathleen Lingi, one of the translators.

Increasing Scripture access for Deaf and visually impaired people

Among the 20 languages which received first or additional portions of Scripture were five sign languages used by more than a million Deaf people in Hungary, Lithuania, Japan, Thailand and Guatemala. Helping the world’s 70 million Deaf people get access to Scripture in their language is a growing focus for Bible Societies and their partners. Currently, only around 10% of the world’s estimated 400 sign languages have any Scripture, and no sign language has the full Bible.

“This translation is indispensable for the Deaf community,” said József Kéri, a member of the Hungarian Bible Society’s sign language translation team. “Even though I grew up in a Christian family I only really understood the Gospel when I met someone who was Deaf, like me, and who signed the message of the Gospel to me.”
József was delighted to help make Mark’s Gospel available to the Deaf community in Hungary last year.
Braille continues to be the most popular and effective way for people with visual disabilities to engage with the Bible, so Bible Societies continued to expand the number of Braille Scripture editions available to them. In 2018, Luganda – a language spoken in Uganda – became the 45th language to have a full Braille Bible, and visually impaired communities in seven other countries also received first or new Scriptures in Braille.

Transcribing and printing Braille Scripture translations is a significant undertaking, with a full Braille Bible consisting of more than 40 bulky volumes and costing around US$600 to print.

Celebrating the launch of the Luganda Braille Bible.

József Kéri (right) with the rest of the Hungarian Sign
Language translation team and Hungarian Bible Society
General Secretary Ottó Pecsuk (left).

Incredible growth of the Digital Bible Library®

The incredible growth of the Digital Bible Library® (DBL) is the result of closer collaboration in recent years between Bible agencies and donors. Set up in 2011, in partnership with the Every Tribe Every Nation alliance (ETEN), it is a repository of digitised Scripture translations by UBS and other Bible translation agencies, which enables standardised storage and more efficient sharing of Scripture. This enables hundreds of millions of people to access the Bible in their own language, no matter where in the world they live, through websites and apps such as Global.Bible and YouVersion.

By the end of 2018, it securely hosted 2,120 texts in 1,430 languages used by 5.5 billion people, including 799 full Bibles in 440 languages. Over 75% of the full Bible texts in DBL are provided by UBS.

The number of audio Scriptures grew to 1,125 in 752 languages spoken by 5.4 billion people. The very first video translation was also uploaded – Mark’s Gospel in Thai Sign Language – and this is an area that is expected to grow in coming years.

‘Extraordinary moment for Bible translation’

The increasing collaboration that led to the development of the DBL has also created unprecedented momentum in Bible translation. Shared processes, resources and digital tools mean that Bible translation today is happening more quickly and effectively than ever before. All of this means that millions more people can access Scripture in their language.

“We are living in a time when the Bible’s message of mercy, reconciliation, justice, peace and love is sorely needed,” notes UBS Executive Director of Bible Ministry Alexander M. Schweitzer. “That’s why it’s essential to make sure that no matter what language a person speaks, they are able to access Scripture for themselves.

“By God’s grace, this is an extraordinary moment for Bible translation: Bible agencies and donors are partnering more effectively than ever before, and developments in technology are creating unprecedented opportunities.”

A bold 20-year journey

To steward this momentum in Bible translation, in 2018 UBS embarked on a bold 20-year journey that aims to provide around 600 million people with new access to Scripture in their heart language. If Bible Societies receive the funding that they need, this will involve the completion of 1,200 translation projects by 2038.

“Our 20-year vision and mission strategy builds on a legacy of sacrifice and generosity passed down by generations of faithful servants,” says UBS Director General Michael Perreau. “Now we continue that mission with fresh momentum by working more closely than ever before with partners around the world, including modern day Bible heroes living lives of sacrifice and dedication so that we all might have access to the life-giving word of God.”

The Bible Society of the South Pacific is a member of the United Bible Societies. United Bible Societies is a fellowship of around 150 Bible Societies working in 240 countries and territories. Together, they are the world’s biggest translator, publisher and distributor of the Bible. Bible Societies are also active in areas such as HIV/AIDS prevention, trauma healing and literacy. Bible Societies work with all Christian Churches and many international non-governmental organisations.

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It’s About Life

It’s About Life

Receiving Life…Giving Life…Sharing Life…Living Life”

In the opening verses of Ecclesiastes, Solomon the Wise King declares, in sincere exasperation:

Nothing makes sense! Everything is nonsense. I have seen it all—nothing makes sense! What is there to show for all of our hard work here on this earth? People come, and people go, but still the world never changes. The sun comes up, the sun goes down; it hurries right back to where it started from. The wind blows south, the wind blows north; round and round it blows over and over again. All rivers empty into the sea, but it never spills over; one by one the rivers return to their source. All of life is far more boring than words could ever say. Our eyes and our ears are never satisfied with what we see and hear.  Everything that happens has happened before; nothing is new, nothing under the sun. Someone might say, “Here is something new!” But it happened before, long before we were born. No one who lived in the past is remembered anymore, and everyone yet to be born will be forgotten too. (Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 CEV)

It’s jarring how accurately our contemporary world echoes his ancient words as a prophetic culmination of his existential crisis. What is life all about? Who is this God and where is He in the midst of the chaos that threatens to overwhelm? Where is He in our personal suffering and why do we even bother if all this ends in nothing? How can life be, in the same instant, both frenetic and boring? Even with all the progress the world has made since Solomon’s time, why are we left so unfulfilled? Are there answers to these questions?

Yes, there are. The Bible is relevant in today’s culture and has always been. This website will share with you personal testimonies, Scripture resources, and information about events that we hope will encourage you in your spiritual journey, inspiring and challenging you to actively and intentionally engage with the Word of God.

Jesus – the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Jesus Christ is the Living Word, the Word made Flesh (John 1). He declared of Himself that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14). There is an abundant life to be had in Jesus, life to the fullest (John 10). The Canadian Bible Society (CBS) aims to engage our communities with Scripture and encourage individuals to in turn engage with the Word. There is life in these words.

In the closing chapter of the same book, Solomon concludes:

I was a wise teacher with much understanding, and I collected a number of proverbs that I had carefully studied. Then I tried to explain these things in the best and most accurate way. Words of wisdom are like the stick a farmer uses to make animals move. These sayings come from God, our only shepherd, and they are like nails that fasten things together.  My child, I warn you to stay away from any teachings except these.There is no end to books, and too much study will wear you out. Everything you were taught can be put into a few words: Respect and obey God! This is what life is all about. God will judge everything we do, even what is done in secret, whether good or bad. (Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 CEV)

The Bible is about Life.

The Word. For Life.

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