In 1923, Gela speakers were among the first in the Solomon Islands to receive a New Testament in their own language.
Today, Gela speakers will gather in Sale Sapa Village to celebrate the arrival of a new edition of the Gela New Testament.
Since 2001, a team of dedicated translators have worked tirelessly to translate God’s Word into the Gela.
The translation ministry has been a joint ministry of SITAG (Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group) and BTLP-SI (Bible Translation Advisory Group, Solomon Islands).
Taylor Coombe has served as the SITAG translation advisor for the Gela Bible translation ministry.
Coombe, and his wife, Alison withtheir four children, came to the Solomon Islands in 1998.
Initially, the family lived in Polomuhu Village where they became a part of the community while learning to speak Gela.
As the translation project got started, the Coombe family toured the Gela islands, inviting communities to choose members to serve on a translation committee and as Bible translators.
In all, 35 men and women were chosen to train as translators and workshops were held on three main Gela-speaking islands, Gela Sule, Gele Pila, and Sandfly Island.
Over the years, workshops have been held annually around the Gela in order to train Gela translators in preparation for the next book of the Bible scheduled to be translated.
As the books were translated, they were checked by the translation advisor for accuracy, and then Gela speakers checked it for naturalness.
Finally, the translationwas checked by an international Bible consultant.
Once each book was approved by the consultant, trial editions were printed and distributed to churches for further comment and input.
A final read through of the entire New Testament was completed in 2014 before the Gela translation was typeset and then printed in Korea.
As the Gela people gather today to celebrate this milestone for their people, they will also be remembering the Gela translators including Mama Edward Tove who died before they got to see their dream of seeing the completion of the Gela New Testament fulfilled.
The Gela translators along with translation advisor, Taylor Coombe, continue to work on the huge task of translating the Old Testament into the Gela language.
They have already prepared 60% of the Old Testament in first draft.
The translation will need to follow the same translation checking process that was used in the New Testament before it will be approved and published.
The Gela translation team gives thanks to God for the completion of the New Testament in the everyday language of the people and pray that people will grow in their understanding of God’s great love and plan for their lives.