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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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Iran Blocks Nearly All Internet Access

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Iran imposed an almost complete nationwide internet blackout on Sunday one of its most draconian attempts to cut off Iranians from each other and the rest of the world as widespread anti-government unrest roiled the streets of Tehran and other cities for a third day, The New York Times reported.

The death toll for the three days of protests rose to at least 12; hundreds were injured; and more than 1,000 people have been arrested, according to semiofficial news agencies like Fars News.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters, called the demonstrators “thugs” and endorsed the government’s decision to raise prices it sets for rationed gasoline by 50 percent as of Friday and by 300 percent for gasoline that exceeds ration limits. Even after the price hike, gasoline in Iran is still cheaper than in most of the rest of the world – now the equivalent of about 50 cents a gallon.

In a speech on Sunday, Khamenei said he would support rationing and increasing gas prices because heads of three branches of government had made the decision.

Khamenei also acknowledged that Iranians had taken to the streets to protest and that some had died – however, he blamed the protests on monarchists and opposition groups trying to destabilize Iran, the Times added.

The widespread discontent on display across the country marked yet another crisis for the country. Iran has been struggling with an economic crisis after the United States exited a nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions that ban Iran’s oil sales.

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HASC Chairman Claims Legislation to Create a Space Force in 2020 ‘Still Possible’

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House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said last week that negotiations on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act are “proceeding reasonably well” but he expressed doubt that the NDAA will include language to authorize a Space Force as a separate military branch, SpaceNews reported.

“It’s still possible but by no means guaranteed,” Smith told reporters on Capitol Hill last week. When asked for specifics, Smith said, “I don’t think it would be helpful for me to make predictions.”

The biggest sticking point in the NDAA negotiations is language in the House version of the bill that restricts the use of military funds to pay for the wall that President Trump wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border, SpaceNews adds.

There are other dealbreaker issues. The authorization of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces is one of them, Smith said. Other contentious matters include extending the “war powers” legislation that authorizes the president to use military force, and allowing transgender people to serve in the military.

Smith said the House and Senate NDAA conference in recent weeks worked on compromise language on hundreds of provisions and “reduced the stack significantly, and we’re down to a few really contentious issues.”

Smith characterized the Space Force as a “higher echelon” issue that is proving divisive. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate continue to have reservations about the administration’s Space Force proposal, said Smith. “There is bipartisan concern on the proposal and bicameral concern about the specifics of that proposal.”

The House version of the NDAA creates a Space Corps and is closer aligned with what the administration proposed. The Senate bill would rename the Air Force Space Command the U.S. Space Force and does not specifically authorize a sixth branch of the armed forces.

Smith noted that the House has been a proponent of a military space branch since 2017 while the Senate had adamantly opposed it. “In their bill they didn’t have the same language that we did. But the president has persuaded them to look at it differently.”

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Gunman Kills Four at California Backyard Party

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Police in the California city of Fresno were investigating a mass shooting at a football game party on Sunday in which at least 10 people were shot, killing four, with five others left in critical condition and another wounded, Reuters informs.

Three men died at the scene and another died at a hospital, Fresno Deputy Police Chief Michael Reed said in a late night news conference. Six more were hospitalized, he said.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this thing,” Reed said. “This was senseless violence. We’re going to do everything we can to find out who the perpetrators were and bring them to justice.”

A gunman walked into a backyard and started shooting at a south Fresno home, where a gathering of about 35 family and friends was watching a football game before 8 p.m., said Reed. Neighbors soon flooded 911 dispatchers with calls for help, Reuters adds.

The suspect fled the scene and police were combing the neighborhood for witnesses and possible security camera footage, police said. Police did not release further information about the shooting in the city about 200 miles (320 km) north of Los Angeles, except that the dead were men between the ages of 25 and 35.

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