Wednesday, May 28, 2008

4 things I've learned on the mission field this year ...

  1. More laborers are needed. Of over 16,000 language groups worldwide, 6,749 (41.4%) of people groups are still referred to as "unreached" with the Gospel message. Even among the "reached", the need to see believers taught and discipled to maturity is staggering. As a mission, we constantly face issues that limit our ability to reach ideals we know we need to achieve due to lack of personel and attrition. We need to continue to pray God sends church planters, pilots, school teachers, boarding home parents, and mechanics this direction, for the work of planting and establishing churches to continue in a way that brings glory to God in PNG. For more info on unreached groups check out the info at For more info on the needs of NTM go to
  2. The church of the living God is the pillar and foundation of truth. The second half of the Great Commission mandate - making disciples - although sometime assigned lesser priority than evangelism cannot be sidestepped or overlooked. As the church grows deeper in its love and worship of Christ, the work Christ mandated in Scripture for all believers to accomplish will be fulfilled. But shepherding the church to this level takes time, and means the missionary task is prolonged by years and even decades before seeing the mature church established. Which is also why we need more laborers (see #1).
  3. Interdependence and fellowship within the Body of Christ is paramount to the success of the missionary effort. God's people must strive to conduct ourselves in a way that demonstrates we are Christ's disciples. The level of closeness and interedependence in which we live on the mission field often means freedoms are forfeited and personal rights set aside. When we function well in this, it is a beautiful thing. When not, the power and example of our witness and tesimony is undermined.
  4. God's will is to do as much in us as through us. As we see in the Bible, God's people are not immune to illness, hardship, dissapointment, loss, and setback even when (and maybe especially when) we are doing His work. Missionaries certainly aren't immune to this dynamic. Plans fall through. Computers crash. Co-workers go home. Government paperwork is lost. Hours and days can be spent making all these "wrongs" right again. Without faith in the Soverign One who has all such things under control, one very quickly can become disilusioned. We know God uses suffering to further the cause of Christ. We also know it is the training ground for rightousness and peace. To avoid frustration, it's good to remember what Paul wrote to the Philippians about believers having been "granted the privilege" to suffer. In each trial is born an opportunity to live out what God wants for our life instead of our own preference.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Short-Term Help Coming to Nakui

As we began planning toward our 3-week trip into Nakui on June 11, one of our concerns has been the amount of work we face upon arrival to the village. It has been many months since our house has been lived in, and we have heard reports of a number of areas that are in disrepair. With Diana's back still an issue, at times we wondered if a trip into Nakui was too much to even attempt. But that's where the body of Christ comes in! As we have seen so many times before, God brings people along side who make what we do possible. The young man in this picture is Josh Verdonk, an MK from Belgium. As we have spent time with Josh this year, he began to express interest in coming to Nakui to lend us a helping hand. Not only a very hard worker, he is also very gifted in a number of areas (such as mechanics and electronics) where I can sure use the help. No twisting of arms necessary! While Josh is fixing washing machines, solar panels and leaky roofs, hopefully I will be able to spend that much more time with Nakuis in discipleship and Bible translation. It has been great seeing God provide enough funds and more for Josh to come to Nakui for 10 days in June. Thank you Lord for providing for our need once again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nakui Christians Testifying to God's Healing Power

Because illness and death are such common occurances in the Nakui world, treatment and prevention is a major part of everyday life. Nakui worldview (which mirrors PNG culture as whole) holds that unfriendly spirits and human advesaries using spiritual powers are almost always the cause. In response, it is incumbant upon the victim to identify the offender (diagnosis) and respond by performing the appropriate incantation or ritual act (treatment) to remedy the situation. The following story told by Kibo demonstrates the collision that currently is taking place between traditional Nakui beliefs and a worldview that is centered around God's soverignty and authority.

“A man from Sari village brought a very sick child to our village. The child had short-wind (asthma) and he couldn’t swallow. For days he couldn’t eat and had a very painful throat. When they brought him he was unconscious and we couldn’t awaken him. We all thought for sure he would die. His uncle brought him to Auwio and I to get medicine for him. When he brought him I told him, "Now, we’re not going to do ceremonies where we use banana leaves over the fire. You can’t do that that here. We are going to give him into God’s hands. God will help him, some of us Nakuis told him like that." The child’s parents and relatives wanted to bring him to Afuwitamu’s place (a jungle spirit they fear) and do a ceremony. But Tuti and I said to them, “No, this is God’s time, we need to give the child to God.” They didn’t carry the child to Afuwitamu, they gave him to us and we gave him medicine and prayed for him. Tuti and I prayed for him in the house, and then after going back to my house I couldn’t sleep so I prayed for him until 3:00 am. I prayed that God would help him and that the Sari people would see God’s strength. In the morning he was better, he was awake and eating food. God’s strength helped him. God's power is very big, we gave the child to him and he helped us. This is the second child the Saris have brought to us recently, both times we told them no ceremonies and we gave the child into God’s hands. Both children didn’t die. We want to bring God’s talk to Sari, and now they want to hear about this God who helps save their children.”

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Translating 2 Thessalonians 3:3

Today Kibo and I were translating in 2 Thessalonians 3, and came up on verse 3. It says, "But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one." I did the rough draft (the first draft I do alone after doing exegesis) a few weeks ago, and made a note to myself to ask Kibo about this verse when I saw him. While not nearly the hardest verse in 2 Thess (see 3:7!), it does present a number of challenges for the translator. For starters, the Nakui equivalent for "faithful" is a mouthful, and I would really like to shorten it up a bit. It goes something like "he follows his own promise talk well." No luck, Kibo didn't have any new revelations on this one. "He will strengthen you" is pretty straight forward as we have a great word for "giving strong" to someone else's heart. The real challenge is finding an equivalent for the word "protect" or "guard". I thought for sure Kibo would come out with a great term for me. I mean, with all the horrible stories I've heard from Nakui history and lore of deadly attacks on unassuming victims, I thought for sure the Nakui language would have a nice, concise term for protecting another person. Kibo's offering? It was something like, "To take someone and run away with them". Hardly what I was looking for to describe the Lord's protection of his people from the evil one! In the end, it looks like I'll have to settle for something like, "He stands with us and helps us." Not terrible, but hardly the rich imagery I was hoping for. We'll see how it flies with the translation consultants! :-)