Tony Kotauga is the new Executive Director of the Papua New Guinea Bible Translation Association (PNGBTA) as of 4 July 2015. Unlike many Papua New Guineans, Tony has always been able to read God’s Word in his mother tongue. The Muyuw New Testament was completed in 1978 when Tony was just a small boy, living on Woodlark Island in Milne Bay Province.
Starting his career as a woodworker, Tony soon became a trainer in timber production. After thirteen years his experience in training and a Diploma in Technical Education led him to a role as Learning and Development Coordinator - Sales and Marketing at Coca-Cola PNG. In this role he gained skills in commercial management and leadership and after two years moved to the telecommunications company Bemobile, where he quickly became a regional sales manager. Looking back, Tony now sees how God prepared him for his future role with PNGBTA.
Meanwhile, Tony was involved with local church administration, as Vice Chairman of Cassowary Road United Church in Lae, and as a regional representative for the Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship (TSCF). He had heard speakers from SIL and PNGBTA at TSCF camps, but it was only when a PNGBTA and SIL Church Engagement team visited his church in 2010 that Tony’s involvement in Bible translation became personal.
In 2013 Tony was invited to consider applying for the position of Executive Director of PNGBTA. He and his wife, Serah, committed themselves to pray for direction. Two other organisations had also asked Tony to work with them, but gradually these opportunities dropped off the radar and he knew the Lord was saying, “It’s time to take BTA seriously”.
At that point the whole family took a step of faith as Tony resigned from his job with Bemobile. Along with their children, Talitha (13) and Jonathan (4), Tony and Serah saw the Lord provide for their needs in surprising ways. As Tony walked Talitha to school one day, a Christian business woman he knew stopped and asked why they were walking. She subsequently lent them a car and paid their rent for two months.
Last year Tony met Morobe translators at a workshop. “As I watched the translators, old men and women, with little education, I asked myself; here I am, educated, with management and leadership skills. What am I doing for the eight million people in this country? That single event impacted my life and cemented the decision to work with PNGBTA.”
Tony continued, “My hope is that my leadership of PNGBTA will help to fast-track language development and put Bibles into the hands of PNGns.” He asks, “How can the work be accelerated? How can we get PNGns involved? I want to see PNG money translating PNG languages. That’s not to say that we don’t need overseas support, but we’ve relied too much on it, and forgotten that our nation can take ownership. We want to raise local funding.”