The Law

If you haven’t read any of the other emails about how the teaching is going, at least read this one!!!

For the past 3 days, we have been teaching on the 10 commandments. As we were starting on Tuesday, a man rose up and said, “Let’s listen real closely as the 10 commandments are a big deal, and we need to be sure to follow them.” I appreciated the call to listen closely, but wondered if he would say the same thing about needing to follow the laws after the lesson was over.

As we read God’s promise to Israel that if they would follow all these laws, then they would be a special people, we read it in a very hopeful voice, as if to say “Wow, this is a really great thing God is telling them”. We touched back on how at the tower of Babel, God split everyone up into groups, and he didn’t continue focusing on everyone as a whole, but shifted to one group, in hopes that that one group would turn and help everyone else (i.e. through the Deliverer).

Then we got to Israel’s response. After reading the response, I asked,”What do you guys think? Could they really follow all the laws all the time?” At first a few people said, “yeah”. Then I said, “Who is the Israelites’ progenitor?” Then, all at once the connection was made, and light bulbs started turning on. The guy that gave the call to listen closely at the beginning gave a response that left me nearly crying, as it was so clear that the Spirit of God was teaching him. Even after the lesson, someone said to me, “When Keteng said that, I turned to my nephew and said, ‘Look, Joey is about to cry'”.

What Keteng said was this: “The Israelites really truly thought that they could follow the laws. But, the reality is that they are Adam’s extension, and his messed up heart as a result of his sin came to them, and they wouldn’t be able to follow. If they would have told God ‘No, we can’t follow your laws, that would have been good.'”

The next day, right before the lesson, I rubbed some mud on my face as I was entering the village. I positioned myself so that everyone would have to pass by me on the way to the area where we teach. Lots of double and triple takes as people passed by seeing my mud-smeared face. Seeing white people covered in mud is a common sight, as the trails here aren’t exactly developed like at South Mountain. But, how in the world does someone fall so that only their face gets pasted? Many people rightfully concluded that this was some sort of illustration for the lesson. Though when people asked me why I had mud on my face, I replied simply, “What mud?”

As the lesson got started, I asked: “If a person’s face is dirty, how can they find out?”

They replied, “By looking in a mirror” (some people have purchased small mirrors in town, so they do know what mirrors are).

Here, I pulled out a tiny mirror and was “astonished” to find mud on my face. And so I asked, “What is the purpose of a mirror?”

They said, “To see if their is dirt on our faces”.

Then, I started trying to clean the dirt off my face with the mirror. As I unsuccessfully did this I asked them, “Is the mirror for cleaning our faces, too?”

They answered, “No, its only for seeing the dirt, not for cleaning it”.

Likewise, the 10 commandments weren’t meant to fix our problem with God. But, rather to highlight to us that there is a problem. Our inability to keep the law only shows us that Adam’s sin has come to us, and that we stand before God as his enemies. Our attempts at obedience in order to win God’s favor is as useless as using a mirror to clean the dirt off one’s face. The 10 commandments’ purpose is to point out our need. The answer to that need is found elsewhere.

Upon hearing the reason for our inability to keep them, coupled with the promise of the Deliverer, who is going to take care of our problem with God (they don’t know how at this point, but are convinced that whatever this being does, will be enough. As the promise originated with God, and they have seen time and time again that He is a God of His word) I sensed what I believe is a huge relief on the part of the Mibu’s. Yeah, their sin problem before God is huge. Yeah, the penalty is eternal separation. Yeah, God will settle for nothing less. But, God is going to take care of it. And it really isn’t up to us. How could it be? Multiple people told me, “My sin problem goes back to my foundation Adam, but everything going on in these stories, the sheep sacrifices, the ark’s one door, that all is talking somehow about the Progenitor’s offspring that is to come (as promised in Genesis 3:15).”

I feel like their last leg has been kicked out from under them and they know it. There was a lot of hope being held out for the 10 commandment lessons. They were hoping to hear how is it that we can finally learn to follow these things that we break all the time.

I suspected long before we started teaching, that God had something huge in mind for the Mibu’s. I’m becoming more and more convinced of this as I see them responding as they are. What a joy this is to see God progressively revealing Himself to these friends of ours, and to see them responding as they are!!!

Joey and Brooke

God of His Word

When studying the culture of the Mibu people, one of the questions I asked over and over was, “To you, what is a good person like”?  One of the answers that came up often was “A good person is someone who says, ‘I’m going to do such and such’, and then they really do it”.  Mibu people place a high value on following through with promises.  Then, just like us, they often struggle living up to that ideal.

Thankfully our God is perfect and always does what he says.  This has been a major theme that we have brought out over and over throughout the continuing story we are sharing with the Mibu people every morning. We are teaching on the Israelites being enslaved in Egypt and God’s miraculous intervention to set them free.  We continually point them back to Genesis 15:13-14 about how God predicted to Abraham hundreds of years prior all that was going to happen.  God keeps His promises!

Even with “little” things.  God told Moses he would send Aaron to help communicate God’s words to the Israel people and to Pharaoh.  Just as he promised, so he did.  In big things and little, God is emerging as a God of His word in the hearts of the Mibu people.  Several people have even expressed privately that they think that maybe Moses is the promised Deliverer sent to save them from their sins.  They are looking and waiting for Him!!

For His Glory,
Joey and Brooke Tartaglia

PS Several more people in the village are very sick.  Many think it may be TB, which is highly contagious and deadly without treatment.  There is often not TB medicine available at the aid station a day and a half’s walk from here.  Please keep them in your prayers.  Thank you.