In 1945 an Agency was established by the Bible Society in Australia. Ten years later, in 1955, the first Bible House in the Pacific Islands was opened here. Now it is a national society, a registered not-for-profit organisation serving all Christian denominations.
In the early days traders came with goods to exchange for land or other resources, but the missionaries came with the Gospel. Papua New Guinea is a Christian nation thanks to many of them spending years translating into the vernacular.
There are thought to be more than 864 languages spoken in PNG and even today less than a third have translations of their own. However, the Bible Society has tried to ensure that all the major languages are covered. It currently has 8 full Bibles while many more New Testaments and selected books of the Bible have been published. The complete Bible is available in both the national languages Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu.
The Society has about 50 active projects at any given time. Some projects might only involve corrections, revisions or small reprints but every publication has an important place in the Society’s work.
In 1991, designated International Year of Literacy, the Bible Society worked with the Summer Institute of Linguistics and the Seventh Day Adventists to create a series of booklets, “Tok Bilong God” which developed reading skills with Bible stories. They have been a great success, more than two million have been distributed. Many children buy their own copies in addition to those supplied through the schools.
Now the Society is using new technology to produce audio cassettes in Tok Pisin and Motu. It is producing Braille editions for the blind and scholarly editions for seminarians as well as scriptures for the Corrective Institutions throughout the country.
Today the head office and administrative centre are still located in Port Moresby. It relies on cooperation with other translation organisations, Churches, Christian Bookshops, volunteers and a small number of staff.
As a major publisher the Society has produced well over four and a half million scriptures in the past ten years. In addition many more thousands obtained from other publishers in English have been distributed.
The Bible Society of Papua New Guinea celebrates it’s 20th anniversary together with 50 years of Bible Society work in the country during this 20th anniversary year of independence.