Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Survey Trip Part 2

OK ... after returning back to Wewak becasue the roads got too brutal, we booked the plane for another go around on our survey by air.  This time we landed in Nuku and Lumi to assess the needs of language groups in the area.  We had a very profitable time and met some of the nicest most helpful people in the world.  This "kulau" (coconut) was handed to me during our stop in Nuku ... one of the sweetest most refreshing I've had in PNG.  Sure beats a Coke ... and it's supposed to be the ultimate rehydration drink too! 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Maprik Lumi Area Survey Trip

Yea, I know ... this picture doesn't look like a normal NTM survey in the Sepik.  We usually are moving by chopper or trapsing around the deep jungle sleeping in remote villages.  Not on this trip, where the purpose was to survey language vitality along the road that heads inland from Wewak past Maprik.  This picture is taken at a high-school along the road where Greg and I swapped stories with students ... in English!  Yes, things are changing rapidly in PNG, and in this area schools are bypassing pidgin altogether and teaching in English from 4th grade on.  It was remarkable to explore these areas not so far but so very different than the Nakui jungle.  

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nakui Morning Bible Study

We are in Nakui. Very good to see the Greenlaws, and our Nakui friends. Coming down the trail and walking into Nakui life once again brings a flood of memories and emotions. Sitting down to a lunch of ham rolls and lemonade in the G-law house was perfect. We visited most of the day … hardly even had enough time to unpack our clothes and food save the freezer/cooler.

I was reminded today from Acts 4 (when Peter was asked about healing of the cripple) that everything that has been done in here has been done “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”.   For 2000+ Jesus has been actively involved in changing lives, from healing leapers and cripples to the physically and spiritually blind. Everything that has been done in Nakui over the last 18 years – through the Kings, Phil, the Gibsons, the Greenlaws and Askews has been accomplished in and through the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  He is working in our midst.

In our discipleship time today I was greatly encouraged by Svse, who talked about the pressure on him to perform ceremonial customs on his sick child. “Your kid will die” they tell him.  The accumulated pressure is immense to just slip back a bit in this area in order to get the crowd off his back. Svse’s faith is strong, however, and he has drawn the line. “Not me” he says. “If God takes me or my kids, it’s OK. We hangup on him. If I ever did one of the customs, my fear would be that it might work. Then others would see this and they too would want to follow that path.” Huge statement by Svse … reveals where his life is truly found and – life or death – where he finds his security. The fact that he would rather see his child die without the ceremony than have him live with it reveals a man of deep faith.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tim's Super Bowl

Thought you might be interested in where I was this weekend. My trek took me to the Uriay language group in the Sundaun Province to a small village of approx 100 about a 2-hour motor canoe (a massive 50-ft long carved out tree with a Yamaha 40hp engine) from an airstrip an hour flight interior from Wewak. I was in checking a selection of their Bible lessons and going over strategy for their teaching program that begins in May. In one of the pictures you can see Elias Struik (a Dutch colleague and close friend) reading a Bible lesson to a group of interested listeners in his office. After they listened to him teach a section (in the vernacular) I would then ask comprehension questions (using pidgin) attempting to assess how the lessons are communicating. Very exciting to not only see the main lesson themes (God's omniscience, power, goodness, love, etc...) hitting home, but also the excitement as many extra spectators sat on the office steps and crammed within earshot to hear for themselves. In a few short months, they will begin hearing those plus about 65 more lessons from creation on through Christ.

If I had to miss the Super Bowl for something, I guess this was worth it :-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sepik Report

Living and serving in Wewak these past three months, we have had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with many missionaries and tribal believers. Whether they are in town to check translation or for a well-earned break from life in the jungle, it’s a treat for us to steal away some time and listen to their accounts of all that God is doing in and through their lives.
In the Yembiyembi people group, believers for the first time are being taught truths in their own language from books like Romans and Ephesians. As they have begun to put feet to their faith, a number of them are facing enormous pressure and persecution from within the community.  But they are not losing heart.  Robert describes the written Word coming to Yembiyembi like this, “Now that this talk (the Bible) is starting to be turned (translated) into our language it is like drinking clean water instead of dirty.  I can taste the sweet in it because it is in my language.  I can see the root of it (true meaning) so clearly.”
In one Abau village of about 300 people, there is a Bible study happening almost every day. After Sunday church, 14 Bible study leaders remain to gather with the missionaries to discuss the lesson for the week. During the course of the week, in teams of two, these leaders facilitate study groups of up to 20 people, including separate groups for ladies, married men, single men, and even a special group for widows.
It’s been amazing to watch the transformation in the lives of Bagwido believers as they gain a clearer understanding of who they are as Christ’s body here on earth.  One new believer recently talked about his faith like this, “Do we hang up (depend) on the white man or do we hang up on our Great Creator alone?  My brothers and sisters, let us go to the Bible alone.  That is where the truth is.  When I believed in my Getting-Back-Man (Jesus), I didn’t follow Mark and Brian (their missionaries).  No!  They didn’t come to bring America to Mariama.  They just came and gave the truth of the Bible.  It is not from their words that I am saved. No, it is the truth of the Bible alone.”
After almost eight months with no contact, missionaries flew by helicopter into a very remote village in the Hewa language group to check in and encourage the newly planted church. They were pleased to find the church has been meeting consistently, and absolutely amazed to see how far along they had come in their literacy abilities. Currently the entire village is being taught lessons from Romans two times a day.
God is not only working through his sent ones, but in them as well. Recently some of our dear coworkers headed back to the States for ongoing health issues. Another was recently rushed to Australia for emergency surgery. Others labor on with kids away at boarding school. One family is in the bush right now without a drop of water in their tank. And still another awaits results on a suspicious tumor. What a pleasure it is to serve alongside coworkers who, despite hardship, are living out lives that exemplify faith, obedience and trust in the One who gives meaning and purpose to it all.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Nakui Church Report

This is the Greenlaws most recent newsletter out of Nakui. Despite the cultural roadblocks, it's encouraging to see lives being transformed by the Gospel ...

Last month we wrote about our plans to review the evangelistic Bible lessons with several villagers in Nakui who have been sitting on the fringes but are now interested in being baptized. We were very impressed with the consistency, great questions, and, believe it or not, enthusiasm that they showed through the 14 lessons. There were 10 men and women that participated faithfully, ranging in age from 13 to early 40s. 8 of them demonstrate a clear understanding of the gospel's message. Praise God for this encouraging development. It's a mystery to me why their interest is surfacing now and not 8 years ago, but that's not for us to control. I'm just happy. Here are a some of their responses:

Imo: 20 yr old newly married -
I have one heart about Jesus. It’s good for me to be stuck to him. We know that on the forked tree his blood was shed. Okay, since with one heart I believe about him that he came to the ground and died for us, therefore then with Jesus I am now stuck together. The two of us are now together. The reason is that Jesus wants to hold me as his worker so he joins us together. God decided, ”He will be my child. When he dies I will go and get him”. That makes me very happy. He’ll take me to Heaven. I don’t want to be destroyed along with this ground. I want my spirit to go sit on a throne in Heaven. Jesus’ blood has washed me clean. His blood that shed is powerful. God had only one child but he didn’t think, “Forget it, my child can’t go and die on the ground”. Nope, we are the work of his own hand and so his only son he sent to help us. He said, “Alright, I’ll help the ground people”. He helped us and therefore he is our good Father who sits up high in heaven. Oh, he is our true Father. Satan is not our father, God is. He helped us with his son. We are now ‘alive’ people. Not ‘death’ people, ‘alive’ people because of his shed blood. Before we were ‘death’ people who died all the time, terrible. Even the actions we did with our hands, Satan controlled them. We lived like that as did our ancestors, but God sent his son to shed his blood and now we are ‘alive’ people. Since we are ‘alive’ people, it is to heaven we will go, as God’s children.

Auwolami: 35 yr old mother of 6. Her husband was also in the class -
Jesus is our trail, our good road. He cut a trail from heaven to here. He is the one who saves us. He saved all us ground people. God wanted to remove our sins, “Why ever did Adam and Eve do it? I will now throw away their sin. My only son I will send to them”. He is our good road, Jesus. If you believe in him alone, you will go to heaven. If you don’t believe in him, you just go to the fire place. It’s like he stands on the road and asks, “Where are you going? If you don’t believe in me, then you must go that way, the road to fire ground. If you have believed about me, then you can come with me. Without faith, no.” Jesus alone is our road. His own blood paid for all of us ground people. He was given huge pain. He died and the sky went dark. He helped us ground people so much. Now all of us women and men should believe in him.

Taukiya: 17 yr old single. He stutters and repeats himself a lot so his words are heavily edited -
God’s help is big, not little. The spirits of this world can’t help us, God alone is powerful. I have many, many sins, from the time I was young. I have sinned and sinned but Jesus has helped me. His help is so good. I have decided (about) that with one heart, only his road is the road of help (salvation). I now know I’m going to heaven because Jesus has helped us. He was not an ordinary man, not a sinner, he was God’s true son. God sent him to us ground people. They nailed him, oh, his blood.....oh. They took him into the cave. Then he arose and went back to his Father.

Imo is the only one of this group of 8 that reads. Several are interested in learning so pray with us that our church will rise to meet that need.

Another happy side note is that Suse did a great job of heading up the class. I think his enthusiasm for the work has something to do with the class' attitude.

One more perk, Sobai taught 3 of the lessons and with each one improved in his delivery. He’s gaining confidence (hopefully the right kind) which is very good.

Our next project – Nakui’s first marriage seminar. Well, a couples only evening Bible Study to discuss what the Bible says about their ridiculously dysfunctional marriages.

Whooping cough is going through the village and nearly every Nakui family has a small child suffering from it. A baby in Yabu died from it a few weeks ago and we nearly lost one last week. Please pray for the Lord’s protection for these little ones.

Thanks for the part you play in this ministry and in our lives.

– Greg, for the family

Friday, August 28, 2009

In Wewak, PNG

Greetings! It's been a while since we last posted a blog, and a lot has changed. We have now been in Wewak, PNG for about a month and are getting ourselves settled in. Bekah and Bri are off at boarding school, which by far has been the biggest hurdle for us to get over. It's every bit as hard as we thought it would be, yet we're convinced this is where they belong for now. One of our first purchases were three cell phones (yes, hard to believe!), which has turned out to be about our most reliable way to keep up with the girls. Home school is up and rolling for TJ, who has his very own home school room in the back of our house. It's even air conditioned, so there's no exuses for not wanting to get all his work done!

I (Tim) soon will be taking on most of the administrative tasks of the region: paying bills, handling regional email, overseeing the finances, overseeing the center maintenance workers, and of course, putting out whatever fires happen to come up. On Sept 15, we make the first of our scheduled itinerant trips into Nakui. During that time we will be visited by two church planting consultants and will spend a number of days discussing strategy and future of the work. We also hope to check some translation during that time.

In short, that's what is up with the Askews. If you want to see some pictures such as our house and the beautiful view I have from my office window, take a look at the photo album and slideshow.