Praise God: The Javanese People of Suriname have a Full Bible!

A Life-Changing Day for a Community Longing for God’s Word

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Javanese immigrants left Java, Indonesia, to work the sugar plantations and factories of Dutch colonial Suriname. While some Javanese eventually returned to Indonesia, many chose to stay in Suriname. Today, there are more than 75,000 Javanese speakers in Suriname.

Although the community elders could read the Indonesian Javanese Bible, the Javanese language and words spoken in Suriname evolved over the years. This made it difficult for younger generations of Suriname Javanese to understand the Indonesian Bible. Their hearts ached to have the Bible in their own language.

In 1999, upon request from the Javanese community, translation of the New Testament in Suriname Javanese was completed! But the Javanese believed that without the Old Testament, they couldn’t receive God’s full message of love. So, Suriname Bible Society and SIL International partnered together to translate the Old Testament for this eager population—and nine years later, the wait is finally over!

Celebrating the Fullness of God’s Word

On the 128th anniversary of the arrival of the first Javanese people in Suriname, they also celebrated the arrival of God’s Word in their community. More than 800 people were gathered at the Javanese Cultural Centre in Paramaribo to receive the first complete Bible in Surinamese Javanese!

“This is a special moment for me and all Javanese speakers in Suriname,” says 71-year-old P. Sadikoro. “The most important book is now available in our language.”

“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,” says an 84-year-old Suriname Javanese widow.

Praise God for working through partners like you to bring the complete Bible to the Javanese people of Suriname.

Prayer of Thanks

Father, we thank you for providing the fullness of your Word to Suriname Javanese speakers in their heart language. We pray for younger generations of Javanese speakers to be drawn to your love through the power of Scripture. We also pray for your hand to guide and bless distribution efforts so the Bible is made available to everyone in this precious community. 

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Nena Podbury
Nena Podbury

Nena Podbury is a Prayer Mobilization Associate at American Bible Society. Originally from the Bronx, she served in children’s ministry for 12 years doing Sidewalk Sunday School. Nena is married with two children, Noah and Emilia.

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