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.