Translation work on the Tongan Contemporary Old Testament began with a translators workshop in October 2014 conducted by Dr Daud Soesilo. Seventeen translators were involved. In April 2015, the project was officially launched. The translators were given the “Book of the Twelve” to begin with. By the end of 2016, the first draft of the OT had already finished. Currently, we are up to stage 2 reviewing this project while also reviewing the New Testament to be combined with the OT, as the Tongan Contemporary Bible. The work is ambitiously projected to be completed at 2023.

The Launching of the Book of the Twelve
In line with the working objectives of UBS that once some part of a translation project has been completed then it can be launched as a way of informing the church, we had aimed to do the launching of the Book of the Twelve during the Annual Conference of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga. This is because, the Free Wesleyan is the mainline denomination in Tonga.

The Conference lasted from Monday the 24th of June to Monday the 1st of July, 2019. Prior communication with the church leaders and the local Bible Translation Committee in Tonga resulted in the leaders of the Free Wesleyan Conference agreeing to launch the Book of the Twelve on the opening night of the Conference by presenting it to the King of Tonga, His Majesty King Tubou VI. This was considered a great privilege for the project. The organization of the launching was for the chairperson of the Bible Translation Committee in Tonga, Lord Matoto, to present the work to the King but he was not available. So, I was asked to present the Book of the Twelve to the King on the opening of the Conference.

BSSP had printed 500 copies of the The Book of the Twelve. We are dividing it up between the denominations that are taking part in the translation of this project – Roman Catholics, Wesleyans, Free Church of Tonga, Constitutional Church of Tonga, Tokaikolo Fellowship and the Anglicans. The aim is to get copies of this part of the project to church members to read and if possible to give us feedback for the reviewing stages 3 and 4 of the Tongan Contemporary OT.

The Director Translation BSSP Rev. Apenisa Lewatoro visited the Tongan Translation Projects from February 25th – March 2nd, 2020. Rev. Lewatoro expressed his appreciation to Mr. Viliami Falekaono for organizing the meetings and also to the Catholic Church in Tonga for the provision of their facilities for BSSP programs since the beginning of the project.

Rev. Lewatoro carried out various activities involving discussions on the status of the Tongan Contemporary OT project, the installations of Paratext 8 for a couple of translators, a one-on one Paratext Training, the checking of the Tongan Bible (West) “Word List’ and Book of Psalm spot checking. The team are currently working on the translation of the Tongan Contemporary Old Testament and the proofreading of the scanned text of the Tonga Bible (West).

The Bible Society thanked God for the support from all the Churches in Tonga and individuals who are involved in the two projects. BSSP also thanked the UBS and donors of the project.