A Bible in Every Bilum

What does Bible translation have in common with a bilum?

  • November 5, 2013
Woman with a bilum

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a diverse country with over 800 unique languages. More than 300 of those languages still need a Bible translation program started so that people from those communities can have access to God’s life-transforming message. Wycliffe and several other mission organizations have many workers in PNG, but there’s still much work to be done, and local PNG men and women are key to that process.

Recently several PNG church and community leaders along with different mission organizations working in PNG drafted The Bilum Covenant, a commitment to partner in language development and Bible translation. Their ultimate goal is to see a Bible in every bilum.

Bilums are multi-purpose string bags used by nearly everyone in PNG, just as someone in the United States might use a purse, backpack or briefcase. They’re used to carry food, firewood, valuables and even babies.

“The use of the bilum, or woven string bag, unites PNG, and is a fitting symbol for the work of language development,” one of the leaders explained. “Each bilum is a unique work of art, the result of hours of labor. Brightly colored twisted strands are woven together to create designs that symbolize the community in which the bilum was made. Like the different colored strands of bilum yarn, unified in one artistic creation, PNG is a diverse, multilingual country.”

Pray for The Bilum Covenant and all of the people involved as they work together to make sure that people from every PNG language group will be able to carry a Bible in their bilum one day.