My first Bible was a Precious Moments Bible that my parents were given when I was born. I can remember flipping through pages, looking at the simple illustrations of David as a shepherd boy and Jesus in the manger—in true Precious Moments style—when I was bored during long sermons. When I turned 13, I asked for and received a teen Bible in the cool New Living Translation. I left that one behind when I went to college and soon purchased a slim leather-bound NIV pocket Bible (with a magnetic clasp!) to go along with my new textbooks. Next, it was the Message translation, and then a Common English Bible, and at one point I even had a Bible with Spanish and English side by side. Now I have a Bible app with 42 different English translations to choose from!
A few weeks ago, I witnessed something very different as an entire community received their very first copy of God’s Word. Hundreds of people converged in the highland village of Soba in Papua, Indonesia, to attend a three-day celebration for the completion of the Hupla Bible. Of the 250+ languages in Papua, this is only the third full Bible translation. The Hupla New Testament was dedicated in 1994 after many years of tedious work and it took 20 more years for the Old Testament to be completed.
Church groups from the surrounding villages came dancing into Soba to join the celebration, wearing traditional feather headdresses and carrying spears and axes. Over 250 pigs were roasted in traditional Papuan pits, and a baptism of new believers was held in the same place that the very first baptisms took place when the Gospel arrived in the area nearly 50 years ago. On the final day of the celebration, the first box of Hupla Bibles was opened with much anticipation and each book carefully handed out to those eager to read the Word for the first time.
The next morning, I met a young man who woke up at dawn to attend a Bible study with other young people. He excitedly read a verse out of his new Bible for us, and I started to think about all of my different translations and what each of them has meant to me over the years. As many Hupla believers receive their first Bibles, I hope that their understanding of God and hunger for His Word will only grow stronger. And I pray that I will never take for granted my many books back at home or forget what it was like to read through my Bible for the first time.
In case you missed it last week, here’s a video that captures the Hupla Bible dedication events that took place.