Translation and Literacy, Papua New Guinea

Rev. John and Maila Davies met while each was preparing for overseas mission service. After they married, they went to work in 1972 in the interior of Papua New Guinea. They established their home in a remote mountainous region with the Kobon people, where they raised their children, gave medical help to the people, and analyzed the sounds of the previously-unwritten Kobon language to develop an alphabet. Using this alphabet, they produced primers and other materials to teach people to read and write their own language. They established Christian schools and trained some of the graduates to be teachers, administrators and staff in new schools. In 1986, they expanded the work into a neighboring language group, the Haruai, and in 2006, into a third language group, the Minimib. The Kobon received their beautifully illustrated New Testament in 2006, the Minimib in 2009, and the Haruai in 2010. Today the Davies’ main ministry is running Christian “Living Word Schools” for the Haruai, Kobon and Minimib. Reading is taught using books of Bible stories. There are now more than 30 of these schools, with about 1,000 children now receiving a free Christian education for three years. There are also several adult literacy schools. The Davies’ goal is to reach a generation for Jesus. They plan to record the three New Testaments they have translated, and distribute solar-powered players so that people who cannot read can hear the Word of God. Their ministry brings the Gospel to people for the first time. All ministry costs, including teachers’ salaries, school supplies and books, and school building materials, come from Kobon ministry mission partners.

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