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Fifteen Churches Gather for Sawi Old Testament Translation Project

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There are approximately 275 tribal language groups on the island of Papua, Indonesia. Of those languages, only five of them have a complete Bible translation. Other tribal groups have certain portions of the Bible translated, but not the whole thing, Mission Network News reports.

Several missions agencies and local churches in Papua are striving to accelerate Bible translations, but the process can take several years — especially since many tribal groups are in remote and hard-to-reach areas.

It is often easier for Bible translators to accelerate their work uninterrupted if they can live with the tribe they are translating with. However, limited access to supplies and materials makes this extremely difficult.

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) partners with these missions organizations and local churches working on Scripture translation projects in Papua. In addition to MAF’s other operations, the ministry provides aviation services to meet the needs of Bible translators serving in remote places. Mike Brown, program manager of MAF Papua explains:

“There are different missions organizations that are working specifically with maybe a certain tribe or tribal group interior. We’re in a position to…support them in their work with supplies and different things they need to stay in the village they are at. In some cases, they are learning the language themselves first [and] getting it down on paper [to translate] the Bible into different language groups.”

MAF has been serving in Papua for about 64 years. Brown and his family have been with MAF for 21 years. There are currently 19 MAF families and 10 aircraft in Papua providing these aviation services for the Great Commission. He says:

“It’s been exciting to see and to work with both the local Church and missions organizations in Bible translation!”

That sense of fulfillment came recently when MAF flew 37 translation facilitators to assist in training for the Sawi Old Testament translation project.

“They went into the village of Kamur which is located in the heart of the Sawi tribe or people group…. In fact, this is a place Don Richardson was flown into [50-plus years ago] with the floatplane and from there, the story ‘Peace Child’ came out. So this is that same language group,” Brown says.

“Now, these 30-plus facilitators were joined then by 200-plus pastors, teachers, [and] church members of the local Sawi church group around there. There are about 15 churches that came over to help with this translation. It was exciting to walk into the building and see 200 Sawi-speaking folks excited about translating the Old Testament into their language!”

While tribal groups wait for the Bible in their heart language, they can sometimes access another Scripture translation from a nearby tribe with a similar language. But even then, it’s not the same as connecting with and fully understanding God’s Word in your heart language.

Brown says the people’s hunger for Scripture is inspiring, but the challenges aren’t over once they have Scripture in their heart language. Another tribal group has a Bible translation, but they are finding themselves with a print Bible shortage.

“They said, ‘We’re out of Bibles. We need more!’ Many are just worn out from usage and some — just because of weather in the interior — they have been damaged. They are looking to print 30,000 more Bibles in their language because they are out.”

MAF is pleased to be serving this tribal group as well. “We’ll be flying those [Bibles] in when they get those printed…. They are yearning for that! So that’s what is cool and we get to be a part of that in a small way of just delivering those to them and seeing God [work].”

Brown says the biggest thing you can do right now is pray for MAF and this eternally impactful ministry.

“[Pray] for the island of Papua and the work that is going on right now. There is a lot of work to be done. Like I said, there are 275 tribal language groups and only five have the complete Bible. There is lots of work to do, so prayers [are needed] for those who are actively involved [and] prayers for MAF as we try to serve these people who are doing translation work.

“Prayers [are needed] for us as we serve well, and that as we need more staff, that the Lord will bring that in so we can continue serving and being here available for those who are working in Papua.”

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Two Arab-Israelis Arrested for Joining Islamic State

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Two Arab-Israelis have been arrested and charged with terrorist training and conspiracy to commit murder on behalf of the Islamic State terror group, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said on Wednesday.

The two, identified as 22-year-old medical student Amin Yassin and 28-year-old Ali al-Aroush, both from the Arab-Israeli city of Tamra, had previously been arrested on suspicion of committing IS-related security offenses.

They were re-arrested in July in a joint operation by the Shin Bet and Israel Police.

The indictment, filed Wednesday, found that the two “see themselves as envoys, until the establishment of an Islamic State in Israel,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

The pair were found to have downloaded “substantial” material connected with the terror group, including instructions on weaponry and how to carry out terrorist attacks “at a suitable time for the benefit of Jihad,” the statement said.

“The Shin Bet will continue to work with the police to expose suspects operating for the Islamic State terrorist organization,” the agency stated, “and will take the necessary enforcement measures to prevent any activity that is detrimental to state security, including the dissemination of the Islamic State terrorist-organization material in Israel.”

While Israel does not have an Islamic State presence within its borders, there have been several arrests of Arab Israelis suspected of links to the terror group. There have also been several dozen Arab Israelis who have crossed the border into neighboring Syria with plans to join the group.

Earlier this month, an Arab-Israeli who joined the Islamic State in Syria but was captured by Assad forces begged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow him to return to Israel, saying he promised to be “a better, more serious human being.”

Sayyaf Sharif Daoud also said that Israel was a democratic country and, unlike the Assad regime, did not rape and kill its own citizens.

“Us Arabs live together in Israel with the Jews. There is no injustice. We are treated just like the Jews,” Daoud said.

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YouTube shuts down more than 200 channels posting about Hong Kong protests

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Google announced Thursday that it had disabled 210 YouTube channels that were uploading videos “in a coordinated manner” about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. It says the channels appeared to be part of a coordinated influence campaign against the pro-democracy protests.

The action came as Twitter and Facebook accused the Chinese government of backing a social media campaign to discredit Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and sow political discord in the city.

Google-owned service said in a blog post it discovered channels “behaved in a coordinated manner against pro-democracy protests”.

“We disabled 210 channels on YouTube when we discovered channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong,” Shane Huntley of Google’s security threat analysis group said in a blog post.

“This discovery of the 210 YouTube channels was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.”

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Biblical Site Where Jesus Performed a Miracle Reportedly Uncovered Near Sea of Galilee

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Archaeologists working on a dig site on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee claim that they have discovered the ruins of the legendary settlement of Bethsaida, which is mentioned in the Gospels as the place where Jesus Christ healed a blind man.

According to Christianity Today, excavations started back in 2016 under the supervision of Professor Mordechai Aviam from the Kinneret College, with a small budget and an equally small team.

Operating under the assumption that a settlement existed at el Araj for over a thousand years spanning the Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and Crusader periods, the dig team first discovered the remains of a Crusader sugar factory “that had mostly reused still-standing Byzantine walls” at the site, later unearthing a Byzantine monastery accompanied by a church.

The two probes dug by the team below the Byzantine floors yielded Roman pottery and a considerable number of coins but no Byzantine objects; the team also found a layer of silt they later traced to the Jordan River.

As the media outlet points out, the researchers now hope to learn more about Bethsaida in order to expand their knowledge about the settlement’s place in the Bible.

News of the development comes after archaeologists announced the discovery of the fabled Church of the Apostles which, according to Christian tradition, was built over the home of Peter and Andrew, the disciples of Jesus Christ, in Bethsaida.

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