Meet Roy & Estelle

The Australian Society of Indigenous Languages (AuSIL) is celebrating 50 years of service to Indigenous language communities from 1961-2011. Among many other projects, AuSIL assisted in the translation of the entire Kriol Bible which is spoken by 30,000 people across the top end of Australia. 

“They asked us to help translate the Bible into Kriol. Yeah! We are happy to translate into Kriol, we said. That’s our language! So we did. And it was good.” Roy recounts how he and his wife Estelle first got involved in Bible translation. When Roy worked on the first few words with people from the Australian Society of Indigenous Languages (AuSIL), he thought, “Oh! It’s good! Then we kept going until we finished the whole chapter.” Roy and Estelle say, “You’ve just got to keep going. No matter what is holding you back – just keep going.”

Dark-skinned with white hair on his head and face, Roy has all but completely lost his sight and relies on gentle Estelle to lead him by the hand. When Roy and Estelle first came to know Jesus they were living in their remote home community, Roper Valley, but all of their family had moved away. God answered their prayers and brought all of their family to faith. Sisters, father, mother, children – they’ve all been baptised now and are living together as a family again. “It was amazing!” Estelle says, “Even my mum and dad were separated, and the LORD brought them together and brought them to the light. I want to give thanks to the LORD for what He’s done for us and for our families.”

Trying to understand God’s message without the Bible in Kriol would be very difficult. “White men know English,” says Roy, “But Aboriginal mob don’t read much – they didn’t go to school or study at university. Kriol is much better. They can understand even though they didn’t go to school.” Estelle agrees, “We couldn’t read the Bible if we didn’t have the Kriol one.”

Two weeks after giving this interview, on 16th May 2011, Roy went to be with Jesus. He passed away unexpectedly but left behind a strong family full of faith. “Roy was a gift to the translation team,” says translation coordinator Margaret Mickan. “He always had a wonderful smile and his face reflected the joy he’d found in knowing Jesus. His sense of humour, his cultural knowledge and ability to clarify and express difficult concepts were of great value.”

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