It reads like the biblical story of Paul and Silas but it’s not – it’s the story of Mumure, a gentle pastor living in a small village of Papua New Guinea. Mumure Ttopoqogo began working with linguist Ernie Richert because he wanted to learn English.
Soon he added Hebrew and Greek to his language repertoire as together the two men translated the New Testament into the Guhu Samane language. News of their work spread throughout the area.
By the time they finished the translation, the Guhu Samane people were so anxious for God’s word that the initial printing of 1200 New Testaments sold out almost immediately and a second printing of 1600 copies sold out in just two weeks. Even
those who didn’t read purchased a copy of the Bible to save for their children or grandchildren.
The people believed in the power of that word. And the Word didn’t disappoint them. Revival broke out. The people turned from witchcraft and previous forms of worship, burning their idols and other spiritual relics. They sang the Psalms back to God in their own language, and even learned to play the guitar to enhance their worship. They
used Scripture songs as tools for spreading God’s word among those who couldn’t read. In fact every verse of the Guhu Samane New Testament and all the Psalms were set to music. They did all this to the glory of God and the consternation of several church leaders, who condemned such practices.
The Guhu Samane people began to embrace even deeper forms of personal worship, and the church leaders became more and more displeased with this new group of believers. When this new, united body of believers began to grow exponentially, the
displeased leaders conspired with the police to arrest Mumure and six of his friends, hoping to put an end to what they considered a cult.
But prison walls cannot restrain the power of God’s word. While in prison, Mumure read aloud from an English Bible, translating the words into Guhu Samane as he read. Fellow prisoners listened to God’s word in their own language and responded from their heart. Almost immediately, twenty men in that jail gave their lives to Christ and joined Mumure and his friends in singing, praying and praising God.
After three days, a government official came and ordered Mumure and his friends to leave, saying, “You must not go back to your home. Instead, you must go around and preach in all the remote places where we cannot go.” Like the Apostle Paul, Mumure left that prison commissioned by God to preach the Good News to people everywhere; but unlike Paul, Mumure had the blessing of the local government official to do
Soon thousands of people turned to the Christ of the Guhu Samane Bible. Today, 35 years later, this body of believers has sent more than 50 pastors to preach the Good News throughout Papua New Guinea.
The revival never died out: it continues to reach a new generation. The vernacular Psalms and songs are still being sung in churches today. Youth and literacy programs promote the on-going study of the Guhu Samane Scriptures. Mumure and his son Steven have shifted from training pastors to training translators, encouraging Papua New Guineans to assist in translating the Scriptures into
other languages of that nation. Their desire is to see more and more people changed by the power of God’s word in their own language. (By Chad Owens and Dawn Kruger)
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