Nearly 40 years after Bible translation work began in the delta region of Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Gulf Province, the Kope people of the area can now read the Gospel of Luke in their own language.

The first New Testament book to be completed in the Kope language, it was dedicated and launched in late October in Ubuo village by Rev Tiramu Aia, the remaining translator from the 1980s team which began work on the text. The original Kope translation team completed the books of Jonah, Ruth and Esther, but while they drafted some parts of Luke in the 1980s and others were done for the local language version of the Jesus Film released in 2015, the gospel book translation was unfinished when Australian Lutheran translation advisor Hanna Schulz arrived in the Gulf Province that same year. She began work with the local translation team in 2016.

Hanna said finishing the lengthy and complex community-based project, having the book printed and published and being part of its launch and dedication with several hundred people from the seven Kope villages, were all occasions of great joy.

‘The day of the dedication was almost surreal – that we really were holding this book in our hands’, she said of the translation team, which was made up of members from more than 19 local households. ‘There were feelings of joy, satisfaction, a sense of a job well done, and a sense that there is still so much more to do! There is also some trepidation, as book sales were slow, and many a prayer that this work will bear a harvest.

Now working with the Kope team on drafting and checking translations of Acts and Genesis, Hanna, who works with Wycliffe Australia, a partner of LCA International Mission, said she prayed that the Luke publication would lead to ‘changed hearts, changed lives and changed communities’. ‘What I hope to see from this publication is people knowing God’s love in Jesus and walking with Jesus as his disciples every day’, she said. ‘I hope, too, to see disciples who make disciples.’

In addition to the current Bible translation work, Hanna is preparing for the second in a series of six Oral Bible Storying project workshops in February 2023 and the SALT (Scripture Application and Leadership Training) Course in May. To support participants for these and future Christian leadership, literacy and Scripture-use events at the Oroi’io Madei (Living Word) Training Centre in Ubuo village, a new dormitory is planned to accompany the classroom at the site. The project will cost AU$180,000. Donations can be made to Wycliffe Australia at

While there have been times of challenge and frustration as well as joy in her work in PNG, Hanna said it ‘has been a time of huge personal growth and of being welcomed and loved’. ‘God is doing exciting things in the Gulf, and I am privileged to be able to be part of it’, she said.


Subscribe here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full