The Papua New Guinea
Bible Translation Association (BTA)

by Bill Martin*

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What is BTA?

BTA is the short name for the Papua New Guinea Bible Translation Association. BTA is a national organization whose leaders and field members are all Christians and citizens of Papua New Guinea.

The members of BTA have committed themselves to a common purpose which they put like this:

The purpose of BTA is to promote Bible Translation and related activities so that the people of Papua New Guinea may understand the meaning of the Word of God and apply it in their lives.

What BTA Does

BTA is directly involved in Bible translation and literacy work, and is currently administering more than 35 translation programs and 11 literacy programs. In many cases BTA jointly administers programs with other "partner" organizations.

What BTA is Not

BTA is not another Church denomination and so BTA does not plant churches like Christian denominations do. Instead, BTA considers itself a servant of the Christian churches in PNG. The work of Bible translation is a task that the local church in P.N.G. should do. But the local church often cannot because of lack of finances, people, and the specialized training that is needed to undertake quality Bible translation work. Therefore, such organizations as BTA are really extensions of the church, doing what the local churches are unable to do by themselves.

How BTA Gets It's Income

BTA is not a business to make money. It trusts God to supply what it needs. Most of the money BTA receives comes in the form of donations, gifts and support from Christian churches, individuals and Christian business groups. These funds come both from donors overseas and from within Papua New Guinea.

The income BTA receives is spent in three main areas:

Ministry Projects. These projects include such things as codan radios to talk to the field members in the villages, technical hand books and resource books, office spaces and so on.
Translator and Literacy Worker Support Needs. Certain amounts are used to help meet the support needs of translators and literacy workers while they are actively doing translation/literacy work. BTA Translators do not receive a salary from BTA. BTA translators and literacy workers receive funds only as amounts are designated by the gift-givers towards the BTA field worker’s support. This is typically a small amount and is not a wage paid to the translators.
BTA Administration expenses. This includes office supplies and equipment, the running and maintenance of its facilities, travel to visit the field teams, etc. BTA’s Executive Director and administrative staff also trust the Lord for their support needs and depend on gifts designated by gift-givers for their living needs.

Membership in BTA

BTA is actively involved in recruiting Papua New Guineans who are committed to the translation of God’s Word into their own mother tongues. In addition to translators, BTA also recruits literacy workers and various administrative staff to assist the organization.

BTA looks for Papua New Guineans who are highly respected in their communities and churches, and who sense God’s call to help provide God’s Word for their own people. BTA also expects the communities involved to contribute to the member’s support and help the local translation program in practical ways. Since BTA does not function as an employer, it expects its members to trust the Lord for their monthly living expenses. BTA is committed to assisting its members in finding their support by publicizing the work of Bible Translation among the public within PNG and overseas. Presently, most of the financial support BTA members receive comes from overseas. BTA is working toward the development of more partners within PNG, among PNG churches and individuals.

In order to become a BTA National Organization Member, BTA requires the applicant to already be an experienced translator or literacy worker, or to attend a series of National Translators Courses or Specialized Literacy courses. These courses are demanding and require some knowledge of English and a high level of commitment. Upon completion of the training courses and approval of the BTA Council, the applicant can become a member of the national BTA organization.

BTA is also encouraging the development of BTA Local Chapters in various regions of the country. The local chapters seek to gain chapter members who simply want to work together to support and further the work of Bible translation within their region. Chapter membership is open to local church members, business people, government leaders, and ordinary village people -- anyone who sincerely wants to see Bible Translation and literacy succeed in their region. Local Chapter members do not automatically become National Organization members.

Contacting BTA

If you are interested in more information about BTA, you may write the national office, located in Waigani. The address is listed below. If you are interested in becoming a member of a local chapter of BTA, you may also write to one of the following addresses listed below. They will send you appropriate information of how to become involved in supporting Bible translation work at the local or provincial level.

If you are a Papua New Guinean and feel the Lord is leading you into full time translation work, talk this over with your local pastor or the council for your area. Then, with their approval, write a letter to the national BTA office expressing your commitment and interest. They will send you information to help you assess the need for God’s Word in your language.

B.T.A. National Office: P.O. Box 350 Waigani, N.C.D., 131 Papua New Guinea. Telephone: 325-1132. FAX: 325-0634.
B.T.A. National Field Operations Office: P.O. Box 383 Ukarumpa, EHP, Papua New Guinea. Telephone: 737-4415.

*This information is taken from the BTA Information and Orientation Handbook, 1995 Published by the BTA Field Office, Ukarumpa, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea (Compiled by Bill Martin).

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