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A Deadly Snake Bite

Testimony from Michel Pauw, Dutch missionary for Wycliffe Bible Translators with SIL PNG, who is the Translation Advisor for the Aramba Translation Project in Kiriwà, Morehead Region, Western Province, Papua New Guinea.

On February 9, 2022, I had finished my work in the village for the Aramba translation projects in Western Province. I had the privilege of accompanying my Russian colleague Olga Formanchuk and her family on their pre-allocation trip to a neighboring language group and we had a wonderful time. But that’s a story for another time. 

My Russian colleagues and myself.

Snake Bite

The day before our return to Ukarumpa I heard that a 9-year old girl was bitten by a snake. They couldn’t tell yet whether it was a poisoned snake or not, but they came to us to buy a K3 flex card, so that they could call a doctor in one of the hospitals for advice.
I figured I couldn’t do much in order to help, so I stayed home finishing up my work and preparing for departure.

Johnny Reeves, pilot with SIL PNG.

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When the SIL pilot Johnny Reeves landed his aircraft, a young family with three little children including a 1-year old baby came off the plane. They happened to be wantoks. They came from Kapuna in the Gulf and for some reason Aviation had scheduled the flights in such a way that – instead of picking up this family last for a 40-minute direct flight to Ukarumpa – Aviation scheduled them to be picked up first and carried them all the way through Western Province. By the time they arrived in our village, I could tell they were exhausted already. And it was hot!

We loaded the plane and five minutes before we would take off, one of the medical workers came to me. He told me he had not been able to contact a doctor, yet. And he asked if he could talk with one of the doctors in our Ukarumpa Clinic. I talked with Johnny and I still praise God for his flexibility, while he was balancing between the needs of this young family, this new emergency and his own flight limitations, and he graciously gave us 50 minutes. From that moment I was trapped in a whirlwind of emergency phone calls and decision making. 

I will save you the details here but this is what I saw when I entered the Aid Post.

9-year old Yoyàm Tubèg taken care of by her parents.

It was such a moving scene: the sick girl lying on a bed, with her leg wrapped the wrong way, her loving father holding her arm that was receiving antibiotics that wouldn’t do any good against poison and her mother on the other side fostering her child. The girl was already showing symptoms of poisoning: tears started dropping from her eyes, saliva had come out of her mouth, and her speech had already become unclear.

I sat down with this little family, while I was waiting for the Clinic to call me back. I listened to the story and cried with the parents and prayed with them. And after that it was action time. Dr. Carl called me back and we talked for about 5 minutes. He basically told me that this girl needed anti-venom, but he didn’t know a place where that would be available to this girl. However, he managed to give me two mobile numbers of the nearest hospital in Balimo to check. So I called the hospital in Balimo with one simple question: ‘Do you have anti-venom for a poisoned snake bite?’. They couldn’t tell me, because they couldn’t find a doctor. 

We could send her to Balimo without a guarantee they would have anti-venom. I decided that I wanted to take that risk, because by that time it was pretty obvious that if we would do nothing, this girl would likely die.

However, we had a big problem. You cannot just drop a child at a hospital far away without a caretaker. And our plane was full. The girl could and should lie on the floor, but there was no seat available for a caretaker. 
 
All passengers, including a young local man from Aramba, had valid reasons to fly. Someone had to give up his or her seat. And since nobody seemed to be able to give up their seat, the only reasonable option was that I gave up my seat. Wow, that had an impact, because the next flight would be in three weeks’ time. I thought about my lovely family who supports me very much. But five weeks from home would be pretty rough. And my planning at the Training Centre would be severely disrupted. I even thought: well, if I had not been here, what would they have done? The answer was clear: they could have done nothing. And my next thought: But you are not ‘not here’! Isn’t this God’s perfect timing? Would you really be happy if you are reunited with your family and then you get the message that this girl has died? 
 
I looked at the girl and made my decision to stay back in the village for an additional three weeks, if Erna would be okay with it. And that lovely woman said: ‘Yes, follow your heart!’ I checked with Katawer, my village host, and he said it was okay. I shared my decision with the pilot and at that moment Katawer put his arm around my shoulders, as if he would say: ‘I feel with you, but we’ll take care of you!’ I foster that moment! These were going to be three difficult weeks. For myself, for my family. But it would be worth it if that’s the way we can save this girl’s life. 
So we started offloading my cargo and I was almost done with that when my wife in a 5 second phone call asked me if the 5-year old Zakhar could not sit on his parent’s lap. And that was okay, given this case of emergency! But we’d still have to lose another 50kg of cargo. We selected 50kg to stay behind and decided to go all together.  
I was thrilled, I called my wife and she cried right at the time that our wantoks from the Wycliffe office in the Netherlands came to our house to visit us. That must have been a strange moment for them.
The girl is prepared for the flight.
The girl lies down on the floor of the plane.

They picked up the girl, put her on the floor of the airplane (as per instructions of the doctor), and – believe it or not – we took off with no less than 14 people on board! I’m impressed by how the pilot had calculated everything accurately to guarantee a safe take off. We needed the whole runway and I held my breath until the end of the take off. We landed in Balimo, where an ambulance was already waiting for the girl to treat her with – PRAISE THE LORD – available anti-venom!!

Ambulance ready to take over the care for this girl.

We arrived in Ukarumpa around 5.30pm making this a working day of 12 hours for the pilot, a travelday for this young family of about 12 hours (instead of 40 minutes, you remember?) and a day full of emotions.

A Few Days Later

On Friday I called Katawer and before I could start talking he expressed his gratitude on behalf of the community. I have never heard him say so many words of appreciation and he said: ‘This time I learned something!’ And I asked: ‘What did you learn?’ And he said: ‘Your decision to give up your seat and stay here for another three weeks set a huge example for us. You gave us an example in putting the interest of others above your own interests. That meant a lot to us!’

I said: ‘That’s what Jesus did for us.’ And I praised the Lord for this opportunity of following his example. And I actually even didn’t have to stay there for those three weeks!

And I asked: ‘But what about the girl?!’ And he said: ‘She is doing fine! She started eating again!’ Praise the Lord for blessing all our efforts in trying to save this girl’s life! 

  • In hindsight I now understand why Aviation had to make such a flight schedule as they did, because: if this Dutch family was picked up last, then the medical worker would probably not have tried to get in touch with me, and the girl would have died; 
  • In hindsight I am still processing the fact that the Lord didn’t give a solution until I had made the decision to stay there for three additional weeks; and then it wasn’t needed anymore. Apparently, He wanted to teach the community this lesson; 
Through all combined efforts our faithful God saved the life of this precious 9-year old girl. 

Thank you, SIL Aviation, for allowing the multiple exceptions to normal procedures in this emergency. Thank you, Johnny, for your flexibility and for your professional, adequate acting, it was a tough day for you!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Support Our Ministry

Do you want to support the Aramba Community in Bible Translation? Give a donation through Wycliffe USA: 

  • Go to https://www.wycliffe.org/partner
  • Scroll down to ‘Give to the Ministry of My Wycliffe Missionary’
  • Choose the amount for your gift and click ‘Give’
  • In the Missionary Name, fill in: ‘Michel Pauw – 280260’
Thank you for partnering with us in making God’s Word available to the Aramba people!

Faithlife Study Bible

Why Do We Recommend This Book?

The Faithlife Study Bible is claimed to be the world’s largest study Bible. It is designed for digital usage and includes thousands of notes, high resolution, full color infographics, videos, tables, timelines and over a hundred articles written by scholars and pastors across the world. Three layers of notes allow you to dig deeper in the text as you find answers to your biblical questions. Based on the original languages of the Bible, it is translation independent, with seven supported English translations in the notes.

The paper version costs more than $50, but the original Logos edition is available for free, which makes purchasing the book an absolute no-brainer.

Watch this video for more information:

 

Devotions on the Greek New Testament

Why Do We Recommend This Book?

The ultimate goal of Greek language learning, of course, is to be able to make this Greek knowledge fruitful for both your personal life and your ministry. Too often students of Greek New Testament only remember their tough journey of learning the language, without benefitting its fruit. Devotions on the Greek New Testament fills a need for both students, pastors and teachers as it helps them apply their Greek knowledge in a way that is inspiring and encouraging. This book is all about making the biblical languages relevant for today’s studying, preaching and ministering God’s Word.

Devotions on the Greek New Testament offers 52 devotions on Greek aspects of the Biblical text of the Greek New Testament, one per week if you want to use it as a weekly devotional. All books of the New Testament are covered by at least one chapter, while some (especially the bigger) books get more attention.

Whether you are a teacher of Biblical languages, a preacher, a student of New Testament Greek, or just a devoted Christian, you may want to know and share what the Bible tells you in its original language. Devotions on the Greek New Testament helps you to appreciate your knowledge of Greek for the sake of understanding and applying the Greek text of the New Testament.

131 Christians Everyone Should Know

Why Do We Recommend This Book? 

After reading this book you will never find (church) history boring, if you ever had that thought. The editors of Christian History magazine have put together a great list of sketches about a very diverse range of Christians who made a difference one way or another. History isn’t just dates, statistics, and grand social movements. It’s people—people from many callings:

  • Theologians — e.g. Athanasius and Jonathan Edwards
  • Evangelists and Apologists — e.g. Justyn Martyr and Billy Graham
  • Pastors and Preachers — e.g. John Chrysostom and Richard Baxter
  • Musicians — e.g. Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederic Handel
  • Artists and Writers — e.g. Rembrandt and C. S. Lewis
  • Poets — e.g. Dante and Fanny Crosby
  • Denominational Founders — e.g. Richard Allen and Aimee Semple McPherson
  • Movers and Shakers — e.g. Dominic and John Wycliffe
  • Missionaries — e.g. Patrick and David Livingstone
  • Inner Travelers — e.g. Brother Lawrence and Oswald Chambers
  • Activists — e.g. Sojourner Truth and Lord Shaftesbury
  • Rulers — e.g. Charlemagne and Henry VII
  • Scholars and Scientists — e.g. Eusebius of Caesarea and Nicolas Copernicus
  • Martyrs — e.g. Perpetua and Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Reading this book not only reminded me of these wonderful Christian brothers and sisters, it also inspired me greatly to see how so many Christians made a difference in the lives of other people through their faith and perseverance, and in all areas of life.

You will be inspired by this wide variety of Christians who went before us and who influenced the world in one way or another.

Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels

Why Do We Recommend This Book? 

Why again publish another commentary, as there are thousands of them already? Sometimes that is a valid question, as many commentaries do not really add new insights. However, this is not the case with the Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels, which fills an interesting gap with its focus on the geographical details of the biblical texts. The Gospels are full of references to real places in Palestine, and since most modern readers are not familiar with the geography of the Holy Land, this commentary shares a welcome perspective. Insightful, for example, is the chapter on the location and the function of Gehenna or the Valley of Hinnom. In other cases, geographical observations can help us better understand certain details in the text. For example, John (4:4) tells us that Jesus ‘had to go through Samaria’. From a geographical standpoint, though, this is not the case as there were two major roads to travel from the south to the north and vice versa. This fact supports the view that the necessity of Jesus’ travel through Samaria had to do with his plan to meet this Samaritan woman in Sychar.

The commentary is chronologically organized, following the life and events of Jesus. The Logos edition marks the chapters with the Bible references so that it can be used as a real commentary. The book is full of maps, (full color) images and (in the Logos edition) even videos as well as references to other tools in Logos (such as Atlas, Factbook, Topic Guide, etc.). Each chapter is presented as a journal article and has a decent bibliography for further studies.

While its focus is on the geographical context of the Gospel narratives, it also dives into historical, cultural, archaeological, and social matters. And as such the Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels gives us a full immersion into the cultural setting of the Gospels. It is as if you are in a virtual reality walking the ancient paths alongside Jesus’ disciples.

See also other volumes in the Lexham Geographic Commentary Series.

I Dare You Not to Bore Me with The Bible

Why Do We Recommend This Book? 

I Dare You Not to Bore Me with The Bible is one of the best books I recently read. Do you also sometimes come across passages in the Bible that you think are just too obscure, too odd, too perplexing, maybe even too frightening? What would you do about those passages? Ignore them, skip them? Michael S. Heiser describes his experience as a teacher at a Bible college, where his students were all grown up in church and all came to class with that outlook on their faces that scream: ‘I dare you not to bore me with the Bible.’ For people that have grown up with God’s Word, the Bible can simply be too familiar. You have heard all those stories so many times since childhood, can they really spark anything in you anymore? The answer is an absolute: ‘Yes!’ and this book gives evidence of it.

The book is divided into two main sections: the first section deals with the Old Testament. Each chapter offers a short discussion of a curious detail from the Scriptures. And the author does not shy away from the difficult bits and pieces. You will read about the bloody event in which God wanted to kill Moses because his son was not circumcised. You will learn why the word ‘scapegoat’ is not the best translation in the context of the Day of Atonement ritual as described in Leviticus 16:8-10. The author discusses a range of topics, from the love potion from Numbers 5, through the relevance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, to the most horrific story in the Bible (Judges 19-20).

The second part of the book contains chapters on the New Testament. Have you ever considered that the rock in Matthew 16:18 is not Peter, nor his confession, but the foot of Mount Hermon which is the demonic headquarters of the Old Testament and the Greek world? They were standing right besides the ‘gates of hell’ and hell will be buried under the church. I bet this does not sound boring, does it? Does the New Testament authors make mistakes when they quote from the Old Testament? When did Satan fall like lightning? Why does Paul tell the Corinthians to deliver one of their people to Satan? These and similar questions as well as the author’s answers to them guarantee that you will not be bored a moment while reading this book about the Bible.

Heiser is very familiar with the ancient cultural background of the Bible and this knowledge often helps him better understand difficult passages that we often find just too obscure to be relevant.

Fresh Eyes on Jesus’ Parables: Discovering New Insights in Familiar Passages

Why Do We Recommend This Book?

Does it sometimes happen to you, that you find yourself so familiar with a certain Bible passage that it hardly touches your heart anymore? Then Fresh Eyes on Jesus’ Parables is one book to start reading! The book contains ten short chapters which can be read independently, about ten very familiar parables taught by our Lord Jesus.

The author, Doug Newton, is a pastor who has ministered for forty years and describes himself as having ‘an unchosen but unwavering passion: to help people see the Bible with fresh eyes and expectancy’ (from the Acknowledgements). He does not necessarily come with new insights about the parables’ original meaning, although he does occasionally share some fresh insights here and there, but his mission is ‘to reveal specific techniques that will allow you to make new discoveries about familiar passages that can revive your love for the infinite Word and transform your work in teaching and testimony’ (from the section ‘About the Fresh Eyes Series’). As a reader I believe the author was quite successful in his mission. From parables of just one verse (e.g. Matthew 13:44 – the parable of the hidden treasure) to parables that can almost be considered a full chapter (e.g. Luke 15:11-32 – the parable of the Prodigal Son), pastor Newton engagingly leads us to a refreshing understanding and application of these wonderful old stories.

The parables that are discussed are:

  • Chapter 1: Matthew 13:44 (the hidden treasure)
  • Chapter 2: Matthew 20:1-15 (the vineyard workers)
  • Chapter 3: Luke 15:11-32 (the lost son)
  • Chapter 4: Luke 11:5-9 (the friend in need)
  • Chapter 5: Matthew 18:23-35 (the unmerciful servant)
  • Chapter 6: Matthew 7:24-27 (the wise and foolish builders)
  • Chapter 7: Matthew 25:14-30 (the five talents)
  • Chapter 8: Luke 16:1-9 (the shrewd manager)
  • Chapter 9: Matthew 18:10-14, Luke 15:1-7 (the lost sheep)
  • Chapter 10: Luke 10:30-37 (the good Samaritan)

Each chapter is accompanied by a number of good questions for personal reflection or group discussion.

If you are interested in similar books by Doug Newton, check out:

The Septuagint: What It Is and Why It Matters

Why Do We Recommend This Book? 

The Septuagint: What It Is and Why It Matters is one of the best introductions to the Septuagint that I have seen. The main reason for this qualification is that in 216 pages the authors are able not only to introduce the readers to the Septuagint in a very accessible way, but also to argue for its relevance for today’s study of the Bible. The introduction is clear enough to serve as a first encounter with the Septuagint, while the 255 footnotes throughout the book provide sufficient food for further study for those who want more.

The book has two main sections, which the title already suggests: 1) What is the Septuagint? and 2) Why does the Septuagint matter? The first part consists of four chapters that are devoted to describing the Septuagint from different angles:

  • the first two chapters deal with the origin of the Septuagint and how people came to speak about the Septuagint, while they also explain that there is no such thing as the Septuagint;
  • the third chapter gives an overview of the characteristics of the Greek Old Testament by discussing the underlying translation philosophy and methods as well as its style and register;
  • the fourth chapter describes how the Septuagint developed through revisions and recensions.

Many readers will find the second section the most interesting part of the book: why does the Septuagint matter? Does the Septuagint still have any significance for today? And only for scholars or also for pastors and laypeople? Therefore the authors discuss three topics in this section:

  • chapter five discusses the relevance of the Septuagint for Old Testament Studies. One aspect is the fact that the Septuagint contains more texts than the Hebrew Old Testament, while from another perspective the Septuagint can be seen as an early interpretation of the Hebrew Old Testament;
  • chapter six deals with the same question for the New Testament. The Septuagint has undeniably influenced the New Testament in many ways, but should it be considered as ‘the Old Testament Bible’ for New Testament authors and the early church?
  • chapter seven finally answers the question what kind of authority the Septuagint has. In order to do so, the authors make a helpful distinction between 1) normative authority, 2) derivative authority, and 3) interpretative authority.

The book is interspersed with interesting examples that show the relevance of the study of the Septuagint for today. For laypeople I especially like the Appendix with ‘Ten Key Questions about the Septuagint’ which serves as a concise summary (8 pages) of the most important aspects of the Septuagint and study thereof. This section also provides a small bibliography (13 titles) of recommended resources for further exploring the topics which are discussed in the book.

The only aspect that I find missing in this introduction is a discussion about how the source text of the Septuagint compares to the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Old Testament, also in comparison to what we find in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Did the Septuagint translators have access to a much older Hebrew text than the MT? This question significantly impacts how people assess the authority of the Septuagint.

The New Manners & Customs of Bible Times

Why Do We Recommend This Book? 

Our time and culture is in many ways so different from biblical times and cultures, that it is often hard to get a clear picture of what life in Biblical times actually looked like. The New Manners & Customs of Bible Times helps filling the gaps in our knowledge and experience by providing us a ton of cultural background information.

Topics are arranged in two sections. The first part focuses on family life and includes the following topics:

  • Clothing
  • Dwellings
  • Domestic activities
  • Food and meals
  • The family
  • Education
  • Agriculture
  • Collecting food
  • Shepherding
  • Craftsmen and traders

Part two focuses on institutions and customs and includes the following topics:

  • Towns and villages
  • Journeys and travel
  • Hospitality
  • Social and political groupings
  • Government and society
  • Warfare
  • Leisure
  • Religion

You can read the book from cover to cover, or choose to use it as a reference book. For the purpose of the latter the book has a topical index and a Scripture index at the back. The book is rich of full color pictures, photos, maps and illustrations, that helps bring to life this ancient culture of Biblical times.

Note: the Logos edition is a previous version of the one offered on Amazon and ChristianBook.com.

NIV Study Bible

Why Do We Recommend This Book? 
Users of the NIV will find this Study Bible extremely helpful because of the many study tools included in this edition. Many study notes help the user understand the details of the Bible text, while tons of cross-references assist you as you compare Scripture with Scripture. This Study Bible also has a modest concordance in the back, as well as a topical index that enables you to easily and quickly find Bible passages that relate to the topic you are studying. Moreover, each book of the Bible is preceded by a thorough Introduction with lots of background information that helps you better understand that particular Bible book in its original context.