The Siarlak people of Papua New Guinea wanted to have the “JESUS” film translated into their language. One day, while a young Siarlak man was reading his lines from the script, an audio technician named Bennis noticed a change in the speaker’s voice and pressed the “pause” button. Looking up, Bennis saw tears in the young man’s eyes. The young actor’s voice choked as he explained his emotional response.
“I can’t read this Jesus part,” he said. “My heart is not ready for this role. Jesus touches my life too much!”
Others making the recordings felt the same way. For some of them, it was the first time reading the Bible aloud in their heart language and they were moved to tears by the beauty of the words.
When the “JESUS” film recording was finished and Bennis and his teammate had dubbed the voices onto the video, it was time for the Siarlak people to watch the film in their language. As the movie began and they saw men and women on the screen playing characters from the Gospel of Luke, many began murmuring.
“When did these foreigners learn our language?” some were asking.
The recording team explained to them that it was actually some of their own people who were speaking the words. The movie continued under the night sky as men, women, and children sat on the ground and watched the drama unfold on a large portable screen. When they saw Jesus being nailed to the cross, the whole group watching the film fell silent.
“I could feel the emotion in the crowd,” Bennis says, “and I knew the Holy Spirit was working.”
Afterwards, Bennis asked some of the women what they felt about the movie.
“In our language,” said one woman, “the message is so simple and we can understand the meaning much more clearly than before.
“It was like a light passed before us!”
Source: The PNG Experience
Story and photo by Karen Weaver