PNG | Ipili New Testament (2008)

Two kinds of gold

The Ipili people of Papua New Guinea are learning that there are two kinds of gold – and one is far more valuable than the other.

The Ipili live in Payam, Enga Province, an isolated mountainous region in western Papua New Guinea. They can now begin to read their own language and understand for themselves why God’s priceless Word and Christ’s love is more precious than the valuable metal found in the nearby gold mine.

How God’s Word came to the Ipili

The Ipili people, numbering about 26,000, work in farming or mining the nearby gold mine. They are a minority people group and language in their province. The Ipili waited a long time to hear the Word of God spoken in their heart language.

Rev. Terry Borchard began serving as an evangelistic missionary among the Ipili people in 1970. At that time, several Ipili men tried to translate the Scripture readings into their own language during church services, but the translation lacked in quality, so in 1976, Rev. Borchard began translating the New Testament into Ipili. His wife died in 1997, and in 1998 he married Janet Kunkel, a missionary with LBT. The two continued dedicating themselves to the Ipili translation.

The New Testament dedication

On August 13, the Ipili New Testament was dedicated after 30 years of work. The athletic stadium hosting the ceremony, pageantry, and celebration was overflowing with an enthusiastic crowd.

The dedication ceremony was planned, implemented and managed completely by members of the Ipili community. It included a helicopter descending from the heavens carrying Rev. Borchard and one copy of the Ipili New Testament to symbolize God’s Word coming down from heaven. After Rev. Borchard placed the New Testament into a large white box, four men dressed in white carried it to the main stage, almost as if they were carrying the Ark of the Covenant into battle. Rev. Borchard and Rev. Martin Wayne of the Ipili Council of Churches led the procession. Clergy in full regalia and other officials followed the parade between lines formed by members of local clubs and associations who were dressed in uniforms and waving national flags and banners. A visiting Enga ladies group played traditional drums and sang.

The Borchards and LBT Executive Director Marshall Gillam played key parts in the dedication ceremony and celebration. “Much of the proceedings and speeches were conducted in Pidgin,” said Dr. Gillam after serving as keynote speaker. “But when Rev. Borchard spoke to the people in their own language, the constant hum of the crowd stopped. The sigh of excitement and exhilaration that swept through the crowd was electric.”

Rev. Borchard, speaking in Ipili, challenged, “People want to get earthly gold, but that kind of gold causes people to die because they fight over it. If you buy an Ipili New Testament and read it often, God’s Word will cause you to live forever.” Lutheran Pastor Mandita Kunuma read passages in Ipili from the book of Revelation that spoke about how God’s Word is like true, pure gold. He contrasted that with gold from the nearby mine.

A crowd estimated at 3,000 gathered to celebrate their New Testament, their faith, their language and their legitimacy as a people. Representatives of 11 different Christian denominations attended the ceremony. All have eagerly accepted this new translation and are anxious to buy and use it.

More than 240 Ipili New Testaments—a record number!—were purchased by individuals attending the dedication that day. Supplies of New Testaments have been left at seven different locations in order to give others access to God’s Word.

“Up to this point, congregations in the Ipili area have been reading God’s Word in other languages. Our hope and prayer is that they will start reading the New Testament in Ipili so that the Ipili people can really understand what God is saying to them,” Janet Borchard said. “We pray it will touch their hearts and change their lives in a way that brings glory to God.”

Other Completed LBT Translations:

People want to get earthly gold, but that kind of gold causes people to die because they fight over it. If you buy an Ipili New Testament and read it often, God’s Word will cause you to live forever.

Terry Borchard, at the New Testament dedication


LBT is seeking Lutherans to serve overseas through the ministry of Bible translation and Scripture Engagement. If you feel that God may be leading you towards missions, LBT may have a place for you.