On Saturday March 25, 2023, the Nukuoro Bible was dedicated. This joyful event was the culmination of over 60 years of dedicated work by the Nukuoro translation team.
After a very rainy night, the sky was clear when Nukuoro people on Pohnpei gathered at the Nukuoro community center in Kolonia to celebrate the completion of the Bible in their language. The venue was abundantly decorated and a number of large tents had been set up to accommodate all the guests. In front was a large collection of boxes: the 750 copies of the Nukuoro Bible, which had arrived from the printer in Japan a few months ago.
The ceremony was led by Nukuoro pastor Johnny Rudolph. Representatives from church and government were present and played apart in the ceremony with prayers and short speeches.
Betty Amon, who has led the project for many years, recalled the long history of the project. Already in 1921, the first Nukuoro Gospels were printed in Germany – a few tattered copies remain here and there. The early generations of Nukuoro Christians were passionate about the Gospel and also took the Gospel to the neighbouring island of Kapingamarangi. In the 1950s the translation work really took off, with a team of local people (among whom Betty’s own mother). They finished the New Testament in the late 1980s, after which Betty and her team continued with the Old Testament.
Many of the former team members are no longer with us. Others have moved to the States. In fact, apart from Betty, only one member of the translation team was present at the dedication. On behalf of the team, Betty now put the Bible into the hands of the Nukuoro church. “My work is done. It’s your Bible now.”
Nob Kalau, CEO of Pacific Missionary Aviation, spoke about the importance of the Word as the way to learn to know Christ and to be his. Translation consultant Paulus Kieviet mentioned that Nukuoro is now one of about 725 languages on earth to have the complete Scriptures; Nukuoro may be one of the smallest language groups worldwide to have this privilege. Betty also read a letter of congratulations from the Seed Company, which has financially supported the Nukuoro programme over the years as part of the Isles of the Sea project.
The ceremony was followed by a lavish meal for everyone present, after which gifts were exchanged to mark this momentous occasion. The next day, a ship was due to leave for the island of Nukuoro itself, so right after the dedication, a number of boxes were taken to the port to be shipped there.
The translation is not only available in printed form, but also as a Scripture app for Android devices in the Google Play Store. At the same time, the Nukuoro songbook (which was last printed in 2005) has been published as an Android app as well.