Leaders of the Pacific Wa’a Partnership — a joint effort of 10 ministries including YWAM Ships — held its most recent meeting at Port YWAM Kona last month. The partnership is dedicated to ensuring every language group in the region has its own Bible translation within the next five years. Representatives said Youth With A Mission and YWAM Ships have greatly helped advance the goals of Pacific Wa’a.
“YWAM Ships is playing a key role because it’s helping take teams to places that need translation,” said David Hamilton, vice president for Strategic Innovation at the University of the Nations in Kailua-Kona.
Jill Thornton, a cartographer for YWAM’s 4K Mapping project, said the cooperation among ministries is a potent force for the advancement of the Gospel message.
“The organizational partnerships within the Pacific Wa’a represent a whole new level of unity and collaboration that we’ve not seen since the early church,” Thornton said. “If these relationships can get the issue of Bible poverty resolved for this one region (the Pacific), imagine what could be done in all the other regions of the world.”
Papua New Guinea was the recurring topic at the Pacific Wa’a gathering. Brett Curtis outlined how a newly-acquired YWAM Ships vessel will be deployed in the nation.
“We have made a five year commitment to the outer islands of the north in Papua New Guinea with the ship m/v PACIFIC LINK and are eager to see how our itinerary might work in with SIL and The JESUS Film project,” Curtis, director of YWAM Ships Kona, said.
Mark Taber is area director for the Pacific at SIL, an organization dedicated to linguistics in the areas of translation, research and publications. He said YWAM Ships’ commitment to send the PACIFIC LINK to Papua New Guinea was one of the most encouraging developments of the meeting.
“The Bible translation project in Nukumanu was basically on hold for nine months because the translator out there was not able to get in because there was no shipping. The ship was in disrepair so this translation was cancelled. The translator was stranded on his island unable to come in for additional training necessary,” Taber said. “The PACIFIC LINK is really going to help speed up the translation process simply by providing access between islands.”
One of the most significant developments within that nation is the work of UniSkript, a University of the Nations project. UniSkript works to develop new writing systems and teaching methods with the goal of fighting illiteracy and providing a means for people to read the Bible. Taber said UniSkript has been a success in Papua New Guinea, and has attracted the attention of scientists from major universities such as Stanford.
“These scientists want to go to Papua New Guinea with their brain neurological equipment and actually test the brain waves of people as they are using UniSkript to see what is it about UniSkript that’s actually impacting the brain that would speed up learning,” Taber said.
Member ministries in Pacific Wa’a are The JESUS Film Project, Faith Comes By Hearing, YWAM, YWAM Ships Kona, YWM Ships Australia, University of the Nations Kona, Wycliffe Global Alliance, The Seed Company, Papua New Guinea Bible Translation Association, SIL and Island Breeze. Taber said even YWAM discipleship school outreach teams have helped the work of Pacific Wa’a. He said a YWAM outreach team did a language survey in Palau to find out if the Sonsorol and Tobi languages needed their own Bible translations.
“Turns out that the team went there, not only did the survey but found out that those people have been waiting for someone to come there and help them and now as a result of our partnership, Bible translation programs are going on in the Sonsorol and Tobi languages in Palau and Micronesia,” Taber said. “That’s something we could never have imagined but that’s what God did and that’s what’s exciting about being with this partnership.”
Thornton said data-sharing is one of the key aspects of the partnership. She said the collective knowledge of each ministry is helping 4K Mapping create a pinpoint profile of the region.
“Together, by sharing information and combining all our separate data into one centralized map, we get the clearest picture of the needs in the Pacific than we’ve ever had before in history.”