Wednesday, December 16, 2009
FORMOSA, Argentina (Mennonite Mission Network) — After years of work parsing words and debating cultural interpretations, the indigenous Pilagá people of the Argentine Chaco will be able to hear New Testament books in their own tongue, and for their own ears.
In September, CL Producciones in Formosa, Argentina, completed production of CD and mp3 copies of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts read in the Pilagá language by members of that indigenous group in dramatized form. The Pilagá New Testament was published as a book in 1993.
Byrdalene and Willis Horst, workers on the Mennonite team in the Chaco since 1971 through Mennonite Mission Network, spent two weekends in October traveling to Pilagá communities to distribute the recordings to local pastors with whom they have been walking alongside for decades. Nearly all of the 20 Pilagá communities in the Chaco now have at least one copy of the Bible recordings.
Past distributed recordings have included the books of Jonah, Ruth and Lamentations, selected stories from Judges and selected Psalms.
Byrdalene Horst said many recipients took the time to offer testimonies during their conversations.
One church, struggling with a variety of issues, received the audio scriptures alongside the Horsts’ encouragement to listen to them as a congregation. Just two days later, talking with the Horsts under a carob tree, a leader said the congregation had agreed that morning to again teach Bible classes in the community, Horst said. Others talked about the impact of hearing the word of God spoken in their own language.
The Horsts are completing their service in Argentina with the Mennonite team that works alongside indigenous leaders in the Chaco, offering accompaniment and fraternal support as they minister. The team also works to make the Bible and Bible teaching materials available to the Toba, Pilagá and Mocoví indigenous people.
Other members of the Mennonite team in the Chaco are working with Toba and Mocoví readers to produce recordings in those indigenous languages. To date, oral scriptures in Toba include selections of the Psalms as well as various Bible verses chose by students of the Toba Bible Institute. In Mocoví, the first oral scripture production includes stories from Daniel.
The Mennonite team also includes Luis and Mónica Acosta, Richard and Ruth Anne Friesen, Keith and Gretchen Kingsley, Alfonsina and José Luis Oyanguren, and Esteban and Susana González Zugasti.
For more on the Pilagá translation work, see “New focus on oral scripture: God speaks Pilaga.”