In the mid-70s, SIL PNG Branch Director Karl Franklin perceived the need for PNG leaders to be advisors for SIL (a linguistic research and development organisation working in Papua New Guinea). Subsequently he formed an SIL Advisory Council. They set up an office in Port Moresby and met with some students there, including David Gela, a promising young man with a vision for seeing God’s Word translated into every language in Papua New Guinea. David and Karl together pursued a dream for seeing Papua New Guineans train in linguistic skills and contribute to the work of Bible translation in their own country.
Upon the recommendation of the SIL Director and associates, and with a clear calling from God on his life, David Gela and his future wife Sineina agreed to be the Director team for the newly formed organisation called Bible Translation Association of Papua New Guinea (BTA). After their marriage they were mentored by Karl Franklin and others, outlining a number of the features and policies that became part of the BTA framework.
During those early years, Karl Franklin and David Gela along with others built relationships with Les Gavara, Cholai Polume, Mari Kapi, Stephen Mokis and Raka Taviri, who all becamse ardent supporters of BTA, and have continued in this capacity over the years. David Muap, Ali Laeka, Liuaki Taufa, William Edoni and many others were also very supportive, along with SIL administrators Bruce Hooley and Skip Firchow.
BTA was officially registered in Papua New Guinea in 1980 and has been steadily growing in strength, number and ministry ever since.