Last Christmas I pulled out God’s Word to read the familiar passages of Luke 2:4-20 to my niece and nephews and extended family.
The version I read from was the Hawai’i Pidgin Bible (“Da Jesus Book”), a Wycliffe translation of the New Testament into the language of Native Hawaiians. The Hawai’i Pidgin language is a mix of common English and Polynesians roots. It’s a fascinating translation that can seem rather silly at first glance, but can also surprise you with its simple depth. Read this section a couple times for yourself and you’ll see what I mean:
So Joseph wen go from Nazaret town Galilee side, to Betlehem Judea side, King Davidʼs town, cuz he come from King Davidʼs ohana. He go ova dea fo sign up wit Mary, da wahine da ohana wen promise fo marry him. She stay hapai. Wen dey stay dea, da time come fo her fo born her baby. An she wen born her numba one boy, an wrap him up inside some cloths, an lay him down inside one ting fo hold da cows food, cuz no mo room fo dem inside da small hotel.
Dat nite, ova dea inside da fields, get sheep farmas taking care dea sheeps. Right den an dea one angel messenja guy from da Boss Up Dea Inside Da Sky come by dem. All aroun dem one awesome light wen shine from da Boss. An dey wen come real scared. But da angel guy say, “No scared. I come fo tell you guys Good Stuff From God dat goin make you guys an all da peopo stay good inside. Dis day inside King Davidʼs town, one boy wen born dat goin take you guys outa da bad kine stuff you stay doing. He da Christ Guy, da Spesho Guy God Wen Send. He da Boss. Dis how you goin know him. You goin find one baby dat stay wrap up inside plenny cloths, lying down inside one ting fo hold da cows food.”
Right den an dea uku paila angel guys from da sky wen show up wit da first angel guy. Dey saying good stuff bout God lidis:
“Up inside da sky wea God stay,
He stay awesome!
An ova hea on top da earth,
If God like wat peopo doing,
He goin make dea heart rest inside.”
Den da angel guys wen go way from dem an go back by God inside da sky. Da sheep farmas tell each odda, “Eh brahs, we go Betlehem fo see dis ting dat wen happen, dat da Boss Up Dea Inside Da Sky wen tell us.”
So dey run an find Mary an Joseph, an da baby stay dea, lying down inside one ting fo hold da cows food. Wen dey see da baby, dey tell everybody wat da angel guys wen say bout dis boy. Everybody dat wen hear dat, stay tinking bout wat da sheep farmas wen tell dem. But Mary wen put all dese tings inside her heart, an tink plenny how spesho dey stay. Da sheep farmas wen go back, an dey tell everybody how God stay plenny good an awesome, cuz all da stuff dey wen hear an see, was jalike da angel guy wen tell dem.
As I read the Pidgin version of the Christmas story, the young crew (and their watching parents) squealed with delight, oohing and aahing and repeating their favorite phrases. It drew everyone into the notion that Jesus came to earth for all people!
We’ve linked to the Pidgin translation of Luke 2 here, for you to print and read to your kids this Christmas. (Hint: practice reading it aloud a few times, it’s trickier than you think!) Don’t be surprised if Da Jesus Book becomes a favorite part of your Christmas traditions. Our niece and nephews have already made sure we will be bringing Da Jesus Book to our celebration this year!
Note: You can order your own Da Jesus Book here. It will liven up your family Bible reading times “plenny good an awesome!” We also like the section in Ephesians 5 and especially Ephesians 6:1-4 about family relationships. You’ll get some lighthearted fun, but also some great subject matter for constructive conversations. It is simply fascinating to consider how God’s word can come to life in every culture, and how the critical work of Wycliffe has brought and is bringing the Bible to millions of people. Consider joining us in learning about and supporting Wycliffe’s work this Christmas.