Abraham and Isaac

Sorry, it’s been a while since we’ve sat down to write an update about the teaching.  We’ve made significant progress into the story and taught about God asking Abraham to offer Isaac.  We used a series of skits all done by the Mibu people to help tell the story, and we brought out the dilemma that Abraham felt, “If I offer my son, from where will the promised Deliverer come?”  We shared how Abraham reasoned that maybe God would raise Isaac from the dead.

At the climax of the story when Abraham was about to kill Isaac, we related Isaac to us.  Here are we with this death sentence.  “Kepoo karaknyin upusi” or, “We have no feet or hands”.  That is the Mibu idiom to say “our hands are tied”.  In that way we explained that salvation is totally a God thing, we cannot get ourselves out of our hopelessness by ourselves.  We are continuing to lay this foundation for the Gospel which we are hoping to present by this Spring!

After teaching is over around 9 AM, I usually hang around the village for several hours talking with individuals and small groups answering their questions about the lessons.  It is so exciting to see God’s word at work!  This culture is permeated with  the mindset of “If no one saw me do it, it wasn’t wrong”.  But over and over again we’re showing through the Old Testament lessons that God always sees us. This has many people admittedly scared.  One person shared, “It’s like I’m in court, and I just keep hearing ‘you’re this kind of person’.  And because of that I’m fearful.”

While judgment comes out over and over in the lessons, we also see over and over again God’s merciful provision for those who trust in Him.  This is a glimmer of hope, and many of expressed their eager anticipation to see what God’s way is going to be for us sinners.  Two men said in reference to this promised Deliverer, “It is that crossroads that we are waiting for.  We wonder, what is going to happen?”

From what we can tell, most everyone from the village is attending the teaching.  This is an answer to prayer in itself!  Please continue to pray for their hearts and minds to be open to the truth, and that they will be ready to accept the Savior when His life is taught.  Thank you!!!

Literacy

The very first Mibu Literacy Class finished  just yesterday!!  We are so happy that from this first class there are 14 graduates, including 4 who are trained as teachers!  We had a little ceremony for them after Bible teaching.  They accepted their certificates proudly while the whole village looked on and clapped.  🙂  Plans for future literacy classes with Mibu teachers are already in the works, starting as soon as January.  In looking ahead to bringing God’s word to the sister village of Tariknan, we are hoping to begin a literacy class there, too, early next year.

Fourteen new literates who can read the Bible lessons in their own language!  And four new teachers who can teach their own people to read and write – and carry on the task of teaching the rest of this people group!  Our hearts are full to bursting.    We print copies of the Bible lessons we are teaching, including the Scripture portions, and put them in the newly established “Mibu Library” (one shelf in a hut – for now!).  The new literates have already begun checking out the materials. Please pray that they will read and re-read them to their families and friends.  God’s Word is powerful and can change lives!

Love in Christ,
J&B
sms

 

Submission

Today’s lesson was incredible! Seeing people beginning to place their faith in what God says in His Word just thrills our hearts unto praise for Him!

We are up to Genesis chapter 4 so far – the story of Cain and Abel. We could hardly have guessed before coming to Mibu how just the first four chapters of Genesis could turn their world upside down. Who and even WHAT God is by what He said and did… that He created all of us, that sin has consequences, that we have an enemy who hates us and wants us to be separated from God forever, that we are all descendants of the two first people, these truths and so many more are at the same time amazing and confronting the Mibu people.

When we taught on Cain and Abel, we held up the tree branch that we had broken off weeks ago was sitting visibly in the teaching area. It was now dead and the leaves were dried up and shriveled. We said, “Just as if you break a branch off a tree, it’s source of life is gone, and so everything from the point where it was broken on outwards dies. The branch is separated from it’s source of life – the roots – God. The broken off branch is like Adam – and the smaller branches and leaves are like all of his descendents. Since Adam was separated from God for his disobedience, all of his children and children’s children down to US are separated from God. What a visual picture of our need for God!

Many people are asking us if they should sacrifice sheep like Abel did. They are ready to do it! We have told them to wait and keep listening to the lessons- that in the upcoming weeks we will learn more about the promised deliverer that Abel was waiting for. Later they will hear that the Jesus’ sacrifice was enough to cover them once and for all!

Right now they only know this promised deliverer as “Muguratdu Upeukngun”. This means “The offspring or our progenitor” (Genesis 3:15). Who is this person? Some have guessed that perhaps it is the angel who guarded the way back to the tree of life. We can only keep telling them to keep coming and hear the story line upon line. Someday soon they will know!!!

May God bless unto salvation those are believing to be true! I wish you all could have seen the look on Nimoke’s face during the teaching – she was just soaking in the truth! Later that afternoon, she walked up to our houses to talk further with us, and stated that she believes what she is hearing to be true, and therefore feels that she should abandon her former ways. Oh, may God bless this woman’s seed of faith! May she one day see Him face to face as Savior and as Lord!

And then there’s Bapake. This man walks hours and hours from his home village at the beginning of each week to hear the teaching! He said today that He believes God’s word to be true and is looking forward to the one that God will send to take their sins away. May this initial act of faith carry through to the day He hears of Jesus Christ.

Because of Him,
J&B
sms

Tension

Here is the tension expressed by the Mibu people as they begin to see their position before God:

“My sins are many, how can I go to heaven?”
“Should we sacrifice animals to God so that He will forgive us?”
“How will the Deliverer that God promised make a way for me to go to heaven?”
“All of our ancestors that died before hearing God’s word, what happened to them?”
“If I die before hearing the end of the story, what will happen to me?”

For the past month we have taught through the first 3 chapters of Genesis, Monday thru Friday.  We have many more foundational teachings to cover in the Old Testament before presenting Jesus Christ, the promised Deliverer.

Please pray fervently for the Mibu people to look to the Lord and Him alone.

On Fire

A young couple stopped by our house late this afternoon.  They were full of questions and wanted to talk.  We have taught just 11 Bible lessons so far, and are up to Adam’s sin – and it is really getting the wheels turning!
They had questions regarding Adam and Eve, and questions just about life.  (ie Does my father who just died miss us, too?)  Sivi (the husband) said that he has an awful pain in his spirit that just won’t go away because he doesn’t think that he is right with God.  He is desperate to know how to get right – what to do, what to say.
His wife, Wun, remarked, “Our insides are on fire hearing that God made everything.  Our insides burn hearing that God made US!  Some of us are torn between our old ancestor beliefs and the new talk that we are hearing.”

Thank you for your prayers!  Please keep them up!  They are beginning to understand how BIG the implications are to what they are hearing, but there is still a lot of teaching to go, and there is still a choice to be made as to believe it completely or not.   The same desire they feel to appease God they also feel to appease their dead ancestors.  Pray that we can communicate that to choose God is to choose God ALONE.

For Him,
J&B
sms

Prayer Request

Hi,

This is just a quick update asking for prayer.

Starting on Tuesday of this week, we will be teaching about the fall of man.  This is going to be an especially difficult point for some of the Mibu people.  Some of them make a living off of performing ceremonies to find out who worked sorcery on a person to cause their death.  Hearing that Adam’s sinfulness is the reason for death, and not sorcery, will challenge their beliefs to the core.

Please pray especially for them to be open to the truth as to why God says that people die.  Please also pray for our Mibu friend Lucas, who is seriously ill right now.  He is one of the guys in our literacy class who is training to become a literacy teacher.  He and his wife have two little boys.  A group of people worked the ceremony today to find out who worked the sorcery that caused him to get sick.  Not only does this throw this week’s teaching into sharp contrast with their beliefs, but it shows us the severity of his illness.  Thank you for your prayers for Lucas and for the Mibu people as a whole.

Love in Christ,
J&B

PS Thank you to many of you who prayed for our son Solomon this past week.  Our lives were instantly turned upside down when we flew him out of the tribe to have him checked to see if he had appendicitis.  Thankfully the pains were something else, and though we don’t know what caused them, they went away and he is just fine.  🙂  Russ and Robyn Bishop took care of us for the week, and we are now all back in Mibu and ready to start again tomorrow into this week of teaching.

Mibu Literacy Teachers

“Every time you teach, you launch a process that ideally will never end, generation after generation.”
-Dr. Howard Hendricks

We have started using the literacy classes to train some of the guys as future teachers!  It is amazing for us to sit back and watch them doing a much better and more natural job of teaching than we ever could.  Please continue your prayers for them and us as we take these little steps in preparation to hand the literacy program over to them completely.

Thank you!
Love in Christ,
J&B

Bible Teaching Begins!

When we landed back in Mibu from our yearly conference out in town, we found out that something was wrong.  Our good friend and member of our first literacy class had died while we were gone.  How many times can a heart break?  The funeral and mourning rites took over a week, and our date for beginning Bible teaching was put off several days.

In spite of the rough homecoming, the day is finally here – and TODAY WE SHARED THE FIRST OF 68 BIBLE LESSONS IN THE MIBU LANGUAGE!  The day we have all waited and worked for is finally here!  Our hearts are full to bursting!

As we shared here this morning with our Mibu friends under a bamboo lean-to, THIS is the whole reason we came, THIS is the reason we learned their language, the reason we have begun to teach them to read – it is for THIS – SHARING GOD’S TALK WITH THEM!  The Bible contains His message for mankind, and this is the Mibu’s time to finally hear it in their language.

We went on to tell them that in other places where the Bible message has gone, some people have believed the message, and some have not.  We 3 missionary families all believe it, and that’s why we came.  It’s true our home country is very far away, but this message is so important, that we want everyone to hear it.  That’s why we came to Mibu.  Our friends nodded in agreement to this.  It’s not news to them, it’s a tune we’ve been playing since we moved in.

We covered who the Bible was written by, (not by Americans, to their surprise!  And not even in English to begin with!)  We gave the origins of the Bible and explained who wrote the Bible, as well as giving the REAL Author behind the words.  There was even a skit!  Though the actors were a bit nervous, and had to do it three times to be heard, it was responded to with hearty applause.  🙂

We held up a world map, pointing out the area where God’s Word originated, how it came to Europe, on to America, and how we are carrying it on to them.  When we announced it is finally THEIR TURN to hear what God wanted to share with man, the cheers and huge smiles brought tears to our eyes.

Here in Mibu, people love to leave “memories” of special events.  A bone left in a tree, even a food wrapper stuck somewhere, it becomes kind of a 3-D scrapbook.  When we instructed everyone weeks ago to bring a rock with them to the first day of teaching, they thought it strange… but when we announced that we were going to all pile our rocks into a “memory” of this first time God’s Word came to Mibu, the response was exciting.  Rocks started piling up in the spot they chose near the lean-to.  Kids who forgot rocks ran around eyeing the ground for a contribution.  The grin splitting the face of one little girl who lugged a flat rock the size of her little sister to the pile still brings a smile to my face.

As the lesson wrapped up, we handed out word for word copies of whole lesson to all the literates (which comes to a whole dozen people, at this point!)  We pray that these lessons will be read and re-read – not only as practice for the members of the literacy class, but as they read and their families and clans listen, that the truth may sink slowly and deeply into their hearts and minds.

And now, making the joy of this incredible day overflow, after hiking home, an emissary from another small hamlet stopped by to talk.  They had been visiting this morning for the lesson, and are so excited about what they are hearing that they asked if we would mind if the entire hamlet could pick and move nearby to be able to attend the daily teaching!  We came overseas hoping to be a blessing, but we find ourselves blessed more than we could have asked or imagined.  To God be the glory, great things He IS DOING!!  🙂

From our hearts to yours,
J&B
sms

Bible Teaching Preparations

I can hardly contain my excitement…. David is getting it!!! David has been helping me as I write the Mibu Bible lessons to make sure that what I say is understandable. In a way, David is getting the Bible teaching before anyone else while we go over all the lessons together. He is wonderful at supplying just the right word or phrase to make what I am trying to say come to life in their language. Of course, I check to be sure that what he is supplying is accurate, but his imput makes a world of difference in the quality of the lessons. Also, gauging his reactions to what I am saying gives me a good idea of whether or not what I am explaining is getting through.

We have been talking up to this point about Adam’s sin, and the consequences it has for us. The fact that we are guilty because our ancestor Adam sinned is picturesquely captured in the Mibu phrase “Nyin be Adamdu barupin”. This means “we are the extension of Adam”. The Mibus make pig fences out of bamboo. In order to make the fence longer than the length of one piece of bamboo, they shove one piece of bamboo into another. That connection is called a “barupi”. In the same way that the one piece extends the fence, so we are an extension of Adam.

The fact that we are Adam’s “barupi” is made obvious by the fact that, just like him, we sin. Mibu people are very quick to admit that they as a people are sinful. They are quick to say “we commit adultery, we steal and eat, and we talk behind our friend’s backs.” But the admission of personal sin does not come so quickly. When faced with the fact that God remembers everything each and every person does, David concluded “There is not another path for me, I am going to the lake of fire. And I am scared.” He said, “When I die, God will have a paper with my name on it. He will ask me ‘Whose name is that?’. I will tell him that it is my name. He will ask me ‘Did you really do all these things?’ I won’t be able to tell him anything but ‘Yes.’ He will tell me that the price for disobedience is that I must go to the Lake of Fire”.

Today, David was still pretty distraught that God sees absolutely everything we do, and that we will one day answer for every action. He wondered if, when he is being good, does God see that, too, and is He is writing that down too?

We happened to be sitting on the ground in the shadow of a hut. I said, “See how we are in the shadow of this hut? God can’t see us, can He? Just as the sun isn’t shining here, so God can’t see us, right?”

David answered, “No, God sees everything. Even deep in the woods or at night, He sees us”.

His insight was music to my heart. I replied, “Yes, God is writing down the good things that we do as well. But even if our ‘goods’ outweigh our ‘bads’, we still will go to the Lake of Fire. After all, how many sins did it take for Adam to be separated from God?”

“Just one,” he answered.

“Yes, no matter how good we are, the punishment for even one sin is to go to the Lake of Fire”.

I ended by saying that, though this is heavy news, we have indeed come to share good news. We are now up to Lesson 12 – which bring us to Genesis 3:15. This is exciting, because it’s the first time God reveals to man that He will send a Savior into the world.

Its truly a joy to see the Word of God impacting David’s heart. The holiness of God demands absolute perfection or else death. This same man who told me “There’s no two ways about it, I am going to the Lake of Fire when I die,” believed just a short time ago that righteousness could be bought with cash. The Word of God is powerful! We are so excited to be a part of this incredible time in Mibu history. We can hardly wait to have the lessons written, and be ready to share this life-changing message with the rest of our friends here in Mibu.

T minus 49 days. 🙂

Prayer Request

My heart is so heavy as I write you. Another small child died last night. They will bury her tonight.
We have been working nonstop as a team with two visiting literacy consultants getting our whole literacy program laid out and ready to teach. We have been eating, sleeping and breathing literacy materials, and we are into our third day now. Three days, and this will be the second funeral. Oyoma (oy-oh-ma) was the young father of a little girl and a newborn… a newborn who will never know him.
We shared during furlough that seeing our friends or their children die is the hardest part for us living here. Since furlough, with Bible teaching on the not-so-distant horizon, the deaths have been increasing at a rate we cannot help but notice. It tears us apart… but pray not for us, pray for the Mibu people – so very close to hearing the gospel for the first time in their own language… but what can that do for all those buried in the Mibu cemetery? Please pray! Pray that these two hundred something people left would be allowed to hold on to life – to hear what Jesus suffered on their behalf – and that they would make the decision to trust in Him for their lives and beyond.
Thank you for sharing this burden with us.