“I am 77 and this is the first time that I have the Bible in my own language – it’s a good feeling!”
The Javanese language is spoken by 75,000 people in Suriname, which amounts to around 15% of the population. Descendants of the plantation and factory workers who came to Dutch colonial Suriname from Indonesia over 100 years ago, the Javanese spoken in Suriname is sadly very different to the one spoken in South-East Asia, and many older people struggle to pick up the Dutch national language.
A cause for celebration
That is why the launch of a full Bible in Surinamese Javanese was joyfully celebrated, and on a significant day for the Javanese people too – the 128th anniversary of the arrival in Suriname of the first Javanese people from Indonesia.
Around 800 people gathered at the Bible launch event on 10th August 2018 at the Javanese Cultural Centre in Paramaribo. Rosemay (pictured at the top of the page) was one of them, along with many other people who are so happy to finally have a copy of God’s Word in their heart language.
Reaching the young and the old
Paiken Martoredjo was also very glad to see the launch of the new Bible. Widowed at a young age, she brought up five children in a Christian home and always insisted that they read the Bible together as a family. Now 84, her children attended the launch and brought home a copy for her, which her children say she is always reading.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day! It’s by God’s grace that I’m still alive to be able to hold and read this Bible,” Paiken said.
It is also hoped that this new Bible will spark a new wave of Javanese people learning their native language again, as many young people both in Suriname and in the Netherlands speak Dutch.
“Young Javanese people – both in Suriname and the Netherlands – are not very interested in learning or reading the Javanese language,” said Surinamese-born Andre Veux, who now lives in the Netherlands, but flew home especially for the launch. ” “Having the full Bible in Surinamese Javanese will help them see that their language has value and make them want to read it and learn it. I hope that this translation will be used to teach the next generation.”
At the launch, the new Bible was carried in by two young children, as a symbolic gesture for reaching the next generation, who gave it to the church leaders to pray over.
Pray for the new Surinamese Javanese Bible, that it will help both the young and the old to connect with God through His life-changing Word. Thank God for the team who were part of the translation and distribution of this Bible, and pray for them as they seek to produce an audio version of this Bible in the coming years.