On May 23, 1902, Reverend John Goldie led a party of missionaries to bring the gospel to the Roviana people on New Georgia Island. These missionaries included many Pacific Islanders from places like Tonga, Fiji and Samoa. About a century before they traveled to the Solomon Islands, the gospel had come to those countries. As a result of hearing the Good News, people passionately went out to spread its message — including to the Roviana people. Exactly 115 years later, descendants of those who received the gospel in 1902 were in attendance for the dedication of the complete Roviana Bible!
The United Church held a two and a half day celebration, because there was much to rejoice over! Not only were the people celebrating the 115th year of the gospel arriving to their island and the complete Roviana Bible, but they were also rejoicing over the launch of the audio New Testament in their language.
Wycliffe USA Chief Operations Officer Russ Hersman attended the celebration and was in awe of the sheer amount of collaboration that took place between different organizations to bring God’s Word to the Roviana people. The Bible Society of the South Pacific was the publisher of the New Testament. SIL International and the Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group (SITAG) were advisors on the project. Wycliffe USA and Seed Company contributed to the funding of the project at different points. Faith Comes By Hearing recorded the Bible. Youth With A Mission (YWAM) was also present for the dedication. There was a team of eight of them, and three of those eight were Roviana speakers themselves. They were at the dedication to help sell the Bibles. And they helped to take the Bibles and audio recording from village to village to distribute them.
Later this year, the Jesus Film Project — in partnership with YWAM — will be in the Solomon Islands to record the “JESUS” film into Roviana. “It’s such an awesome collaboration,” Russ said. “All these agencies have come together to help translate, distribute and promote the use of the Bible in Roviana.”
For many years, Roviana was the language of the United Church in the Solomon Islands. So not only will the Bible be put to use, but it’ll also be used as the source text for other translations in the region!
“It’s cool to see the way this project has massive ripple effects,” Russ affirmed. The Roviana project is truly an example of what it looks like to be a part of the global Church.