Posted by: calloftheandes | September 17, 2010

Bibles in Shuar Language Presented in Ecuador’s Amazon Region

Story by Ralph Kurtenbach
Photos by Chad Irwin, Mission Aviation Fellowship

A page from the Book of Genesis in the Bible's Old Testament.

Newly printed Bibles in the Shuar language were presented in the Ecuadorian
jungle community of Makuma, with pioneering missionaries Frank and Marie Drown attending a ceremony planned and carried out by the Shuar Association of Evangelical Churches.

In 1948, the Drowns assumed the work among the Shuar that was begun by Ernest and Jean Johnson a few years earlier. Both couples worked with Gospel Missionary Union (now Avant), providing spiritual guidance in Christian principles while living among the Shuar. A deadly rivalry then existed between the Shuar and their distant cousins, the
Achuar, as chronicled in the Drowns’ book, Mission to the Headhunters: How God’s Forgiveness Transformed Tribal Enemies.

“We were thrilled to hear the Shuar church leaders and the Bible translators
as they read and explained passages from God’s Word and then dramatically
presented the newly arrived Bibles,” wrote Marie Drown after she and Frank visited Ecuador.

“We often hear about Don Pancho (Frank),” wrote HCJB Global’s Alex
Leon in her family blog. “He had a vision of community development and has
left long-lasting influence in the areas where we work.” Alex Leon and her Ecuadorian
husband, Alfredo, are both engineers who’ve directed clean water projects in
Makuma in the last few years.

Arriving in 1968 to Shuar territory, Avant missionaries Jim and Norma
Hedlund facilitated the work of Shuar translators trained by the late
Dorothy Walker, an Avant missionary, and Dr. Glen Turner, of Summer
Institute of Linguistics. Along with 21 other Shuar over the years, a
steadfast worker was Humberto Tankamash. Wheelchair bound, he attended the
recent dedication, celebrating the landmark with 150 others. Tankamash’s own community is to host a dedication of the new Bible later
this year.

Norma and Jim Hedlund receive Bibles in the Shuar language.

“It is very unusual for someone to survive so long in the jungle in a wheelchair and he recognizes that God has protected him all this time so he could work on this project,” said Leon.

A touching moment for Leon came as an Old Testament text was read and dramatized about a dedication centuries earlier—that of a communal project (a wall), offering protection from enemies and unity of purpose and identity within. That event too, had brought “rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away” (Nehemiah 12:43, NIV).

The youngest translator was Domingo Najamtai, a bilingual (Shuar and Spanish) university graduate and licensed pilot. He told the Hedlunds that he found the Shuar phrases much clearer than his Spanish-language text.

“I have put my Spanish Bible away,” Najamtai said.

The Hedlunds plan to retire, and the Shuar people will complete translation work on the remaining eight books of the Bible.



  1. […] Walker went on to say: “It was my privilege during 1974-83 to visit with Frank & Marie, including an unforgettable overnight at their longtime mission station, Macuma, Ecuador.” […]

  2. […] Achuar and Shuar people have very defined roles for men and women. I was able to make connections that our expatriate men […]

  3. […] opportunity to talk to Gladys about Christianity. She had questions about what it means to do what the Bible […]

  4. David: Jim Hedlund replied this way to your question. -Ralph

    There are several places Mr. Shelton would be able to locate and purchase Shuar Bibles.

    In Quito Dean Rule at Fundación Verdades Bíblicas (Mariano Hurtado N50-34 y Vicente Heredia – in the Urbanización San Fernando – 02-245-7579 or 08-545-7511 or ) is helping us by storing some of our Bible stock. This is a bit out of the way in Quito but I found the place in a taxi so I suspect that could be repeated.

    In Shell I would recommend Alas de Socorro who also has a large stock of Shuar Bibles. The Bibles are $10 each. -Jim

    • Is Shell on the way to Macas from Quito? We are driving down from Quito to Macas then to the Morona river. I did find a potential source of 24 Shuar Bibles in Macas from a retired Missionary down there. Checking into that also..If I can;t access those, I will then try the places you mentioned in Quito.

  5. How can I purchase Shuar Bibles once I am down in Ecuador on my mission trip in two weeks?? please send me an email with some information on this.

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