Bible translation is an important part of planting indigenous churches. It is vital that local churches have the Scriptures in their own language in order for the believers to grow in their faith and to keep them following sound doctrine. Translation of the New Testament into Hamtai was started in 1959 by us and our coworkers, Ted and Jerry Fitzgerald. I was able to translate 9 books of the New Testament before I was called to fill in as field chairman at our field headquarters in the highlands near Goroka. While I was serving in field administration work, etc., Ted and Jerry finished the translation of the whole New Testament. Five thousand copies were printed in Hong Kong and presented to the people in 1975. That was a mile stone in the churches’ development.
Coincidentally, it was the same year The Territory of Papua & New Guinea gained its independence from Australia and officially became Papua New Guinea. In the same way, the churches, by having God’s Word in their own language. gained more independence from the missionaries.
That edition of the New Testament is now out of print. All our coworkers phased out of the tribe in the late 70″s and early 80″s, some of whom were able to provide leadership in new areas that NTM was entering. The tribe was without missionaries for 3 years at two different times. In 1984 we returned to the Hamtai to translate Bible study lesson books and to revise the Hamtai New Testament.