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Samuel puts passion for Bible translation into action

Samuel puts passion for Bible translation into action

Samuel puts passion for Bible translation into action

13 June 2018

Lismore Salvationist Samuel Bacon is part of a team translating portions of the Old Testament for the people of East Timor.

By Kevin Elsley and Simone Worthing

Samuel Bacon, a long-time member of the Lismore Corps, is part of a small international team of Christians who have taken on the task of translating portions of the Old Testament for the people of East Timor.

A regular visitor to the country to assist in training Christian leaders, as well as a member of the Lismore Corps leadership team, Samuel says about 95 per cent of Timorese claim to be Christian and are generally willing to receive God’s Word.

However, there is as yet no complete Bible in the local language of Tetun Dili, which is spoken by the majority of Timor’s 1.3 million people.

“The national leader of the Nazarene church is the main translator, then we have another young Timorese man who attends a church planted by Kenyan missionaries, a Brazilian missionary and myself working on this,” said Samuel.

The project is expected to be completed in 2022 with the aim of printing 1000 copies.

Another significant challenge, according to Samuel, is reading comprehension.

“For example, a person can read a sentence and understand the words but not comprehend the message,” said Samuel, who explained by referring to the baptism of Jesus and the belief that Jesus was baptised by Peter, not John.

“If they are struggling with such simple facts then how will they understand the more important truths of the kingdom of heaven?”

To address this issue Samuel and his team operate a training centre to help the local churches educate their young people on how to improve their understanding of the Bible and their skills in teaching and leadership.

As there is already a New Testament available in Timor-Leste, the team of pastors and missionaries is focusing on the Old Testament and to date about a quarter has been translated into Tetun Dili.

The book is titled Lia Fuan Hosi Testamentu Tuan, which translated into English literally means “Word fruit from Testament Old”.

“I am driven by my passion to see people reading God’s Word,” said Samuel. “I have this sense of fairness; that I get to read a really nice Psalm and be encouraged every day, and my Timorese brothers and sisters don’t. This spurs me on.

“Reading the Bible every day and getting to know God is critical in the Christian church and we need a renewed passion for God’s Word and following Jesus. Reading God’s Word is part of that.

Samuel first visited East Timor in 2004 with his wife and daughter. They later moved there and lived in the country for about nine years before returning to Australia in 2016 with four children. Samuel now travels to East Timor three times a year.

Although Samuel proudly wears his Salvation Army shirt when he is in East Timor, there is currently no official Salvation Army presence or involvement in East Timor.

In West Timor, a new officer who is originally from East Timor, Lieutenant Supriyono Da Lopez, assists the captains in the leadership of a corps in Kupang [West Timor is part of Indonesia]. There is some crossover between East and West when Supriyono comes to East Timor to see his family. Samuel also has some contact with Captain Juliama Pamiadi in Kupang via Messenger.

Samuel’s next visit to East Timor will be in July.

For more information on the translation project, or the visits to East Timor, contact Samuel at



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