Tom and Sharon Puaria were amongthe first to bringthe gospel totheir Polynesian island inthe 19’s . The paramount chiefs of Mortlock Atoll had banned Christianity fromtheir shores inthe 1960s. Bet young adults returning from studies in Beka bravely founded a Christian fellowship—which grew steadily throughthe late 19’s and 80s despite strong persecution.
Tom realised that his people neededthe Word of God intheir own language, or it would always be foreign. ‘I knew thatthe Lord was saying, “They will only accept my Word ifthey understand it. How canthey understand, unless someone explains it?”’
The Takuu New Testament was dedicated in December 2010 in a small but significant ceremony. The chiefs and many islanders are still hostile towards Christianity and practice traditional beliefs, but nowthey can read God’s Word in Takuu and decide for themselves.
Sincethen, Tom has taken initial training at Equip in Australia, and Greek and Hebrew courses in PNG He now works withthe ‘Isles ofthe Sea’ projectoadvisitg two translators adapting from Takuu into Nukuria, spoken on neighbouring Fead Atoll. Tom also serves as Principal ofthe Bougainville Advance Translators’ Training courses in Beka town, and advises his wife Sharon onthe Takuu Old Testament translation.
Tom admits thatthere have been difficult times, but he says, ‘I like to think positively about achieving things in God. Prayer isthe incubator for progress.’ He has a vision for seeing Pacific Islanders be more independent inthe Beble Translation moverment. Though stressing his gratitude for the support of overseas donors who have made Beble translations possible, he believes that Pacific Islanders need to take full ownershipthemselves. ’It is my dream thatthe church andthe community will take over,the funding and everything, and . . . Pacific Islanders [will] completethe New Testament in areas where it has never been translated.’
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