Rob’s Story

Just imagine that you belong to an ethnic group facing extinction.

How can that be? Firstly, because you belong to an ethnic minority, the government chooses not to provide schools in your villages, “You are too few,” they say.  But if only 2-3 families belonging to the majority community move into one of your villages, suddenly a school appears.  Only one in a hundred of your children graduate from high school. The national average is over 30%. Year by year your ethnic group is lagging further behind.

Your ancestors have tilled your traditional land for centuries. When outsiders appear and begin to till one of your fallow fields, and you remonstrate with them, they say, “This is vacant land. No one is tilling it.”  You go to the government office to complain and are told, “That is not your land. That is government land.”

Your villages don’t have roads, electricity or clinics, so infant mortality is high.  Your people used to have 36 villages. Now there are only 33. Three villages have been taken over by outsiders.

Rob BMy name is Rob B. Last year I was invited to travel to South Asia to help these tribal people to rescue their languages, cultures and way of lives. 

Three times each year they come together to create literature in their languages: story books, books about their ancestry and culture, poetry collections, song books etc. Some are Hindus, some are Buddhists, and some are Christians. All face the same challenge: they are losing their languages and cultures – and are fearful for their future.

Many of these groups are crying out to be given the Word of God in their own languages and their pastors struggle to understand the Bible in the national language. 

The national Bible Society is responding to this need by sponsoring new tribal translation projects. However, the tribal translators need to understand English to be able to use exegetical and other resources in English. The team I work with also helps these mother tongue translators to improve their English so they can translate the Bible and other literature from the national language and English into their own mother tongues.

Translated storyLast year I went for four weeks and typeset eight books. Some were monolingual, others tri-lingual: in the tribal language, the national language and in English. I have been invited to come again in July 2016.

I have been asked what it is that qualified me to be involved in translation work. I haven’t done any special courses. I am not a linguist or a translation consultant. I don’t even speak a second language. Looking at that track record it certainly does not appear that I should qualify for any position on a mission team. But this is my third trip to South Asia to do just that.

My journey began in the 60’s as an apprentice working for the Courier-Mail as a typesetter (Linotype Operator). As technology took over and the digital world began to dominate I became interested in computing and digital design. So I have taught myself to use the computer for administration and graphics. I still have no formal qualifications, but competent enough to be the ‘IT’ support on these mission trips.

I look forward to this challenge. Being in a 3rd world environment for any period of time really impresses upon you the very great need that the people who live here face every day. That is not just talking about the physical hardships, great thou they are, but the spiritual challenges which present a greater threat to their future. Please pray for me and for those who will also be part of the team dedicated to making a difference in their lives. Pray also that God will put His protection over the whole project.