Ioane 1:1 I vai na te Parau i te matamua ra, i te Atua ra hoi te Parau, e o te Atua hoi te Parau.
So begins our translation of the Gospel of John. For the first time in 170 years an updated translation of the Bible is coming to Tahitians (except one from the Jehovah’s Witnesses). Since 1850, the date of completion for the Bible that Tahitians use, the Tahitian vocabulary has changed by over 60%. At the Bible studies we attend, we typically see folks with their Tahitian and French Bibles open side by side, hoping to get some benefit from reading their Bibles in their native language. By sometime in 2023, we hope to present to them the Gospel of John in modern Tahitian. More than this, we have been blessed with friends from other island groups who can help us take our new Tahitian Bible into Marqesan, Paumotuan, Mangarevan, and a few of the languages in the Austral archipelago. Although the Marquesas have a Bible in their language from the Roman Catholics, it is a biased work that depends on French and ultimately the Latin Vulgate.
To summarize, we are embarked on a historic work that can impact many future generations of the people of French Polynesia.
Last week I took some time to review the history of the Tahitian Bible. The first effort began shortly after 1800, accomplished entirely by John Davies, an Englishman of the London Missionary Society. He did this work in Papara, the very town in which we reside and conduct our own translation work. Chills immediately went down my spine as I realized God’s hand in our history here. He truly has prepared this work beforehand! Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
We constantly encounter profound biblical ignorance here, even in a nation that is classified as having over 95% of its population as professing Christians. A big part of that solution is to put a useful Bible in their hands. Beyond that, training in Bible study methods is the next essential step.
Toward that end, we had another big “win” recently when I was invited to teach a Wednesday night Bible study. I decided on Haggai, which may surprise many of you. However, it was a great success and I was invited back two nights later, Again, the reception could not have been better. As a result, I have become the regular teacher on Friday nights, a position I hope creates more and more desire for the Word. This has also connected me to the Protestant church in Pirae, on the urban side of Tahiti, where I will preach on a Sunday morning in January.
Meanwhile, our first Operation Christmas Child campaign is wrapping up ten days from now, on Saturday, December 18th Please pray that the children would like to continue with a regular Bible club or the like so that we can continue to be a part of their lives and begin to have an impact with their parents and families as well.
We continue to participate in the visitation of the sick and shut-ins in our local church, along with Bible studies and preaching there. God continues to open doors.
Please pray for more and more Tahitians to desire a hunger for the Word, and for us to be wise to walk in all that God has prepared for us.
In the footsteps of John Davies.
Mark and Rene’ Perkins