Howard Family Relates Mission in Papau, New Guinea
By Kelly Cole
Many Rocket-Courier readers know David Howard and how he grew up in Homets Ferry and went off to Bucknell University to study electrical engineering after graduating from WVHS in 1989. That may be the last they heard of what Howard had been up to. David, his wife Susan and their four children have been living in Papua, New Guinea working with Wycliffe Bible Translators. This isn’t an easy venture. It takes special training and dedicated time to translate even one book of the Bible.
During a 1992 Christian student fellowship meeting, Howard became aware of the work of Wycliffe and the need for Bible Translators. During the summer of 1993, he went on a trip to Papua, New Guinea to learn more, and this also happened to be the meeting point for him and his wife, Susan, of Dunedin, FL who was attending college in Florida. That trip cemented the idea that Howard would follow in this direction and that this is what he was intended to do. He and Susan married the following year in June and began their journey to become Wycliffe Translators in 1996.
The Wycliffe Bible Translators was founded by Cameron Townsend in 1934. He set out to accomplish what John Wycliffe had started doing in the late 1300’s. Wycliffe was a university professor and preacher and the first person to translate the Bible into English. He felt that everyone should have access to God’s word. During that time, if one wished to read the Bible, they needed to learn Latin and many were not able to do so. Townsend chose to name the group “Wycliffe,” because he held the same beliefs as Wycliffe. In 1934, he recruited his first two translators and now Wycliffe Bible Translators has more than 6,600 members—the Howards being part of this group. They are located in 90 countries and all the continents except Antarctica.
The translators mainly focus on translating the New Testament into a language that can be understood by the people they are working with. In many cases, they need to study the language and then create an alphabet before they can start the translation process. By creating a Bible for them, this is helping stabilize the language and preserve words. This also allows people to record stories and traditions that will help preserve who they are for generations.
Languages change so fast, in some parts of the world from generation to generation. The process to translate one book could take approximately four years. After establishing an alphabet and spending the time making the translation, the book needs to be checked by a consultant to make sure that it translates with the correct meaning. After this has been done, they hold a dedication to God in celebration of the book being complete.
The Wycliffe Bible Translators are currently involved in more than 1,300 translation projects, and this group’s goal is to have a translation in every language by the year 2025. In Papua alone, there are more than 800 languages. There has been a complete Bible translation in one language in Papua, and Wycliffe personnel have completed and dedicated the New Testament in 187 languages in Papua as well. They are currently working with approximately 185 languages there and estimate that another 300 translations are needed.
After spending time taking linguistic courses and learning about phonetics and phrenology, while also working with trained individuals to help with the translation process they began their mission work with the Adzera people in Papua. New Guinea is in the south Pacific north of Australia. The Howards live in Ukarumpa, the highland area, where their headquarters is based. They are working with the Adzera people in creating books from the Bible that they can understand. Howard has worked on Luke (which is not yet published), James, Mark, Genesis (which was published in 2007) and Titus (which a consultant needs to check). Their children spend time in the Ukarumpa school as well as being home schooled when they are in the village. Katie is 12, Melissa will be 11 soon, Samuel turned nine this summer and Jonathan will be seven this fall. They have been blessed with being part of an amazing experience that will follow them through their lives.
The Howards will be spending the next year visiting the various churches and supporters that have given on a regular basis to the Wycliffe Translators on their behalf. They will be in this area until December and then will head south for a short time before returning to Wyalusing. They have received support from churches and individuals in Texas, Florida, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Many Wyalusing area residents have supported the Howards over the years and this has been greatly appreciated. Anyone can go to www.wycliffe.org and learn more of the David and Susan Howard Ministry of the Adzera language. It is also an opportunity to read more about this program and the many opportunities that are available.
David is the son of John and the late Doris Howard.