Never has a funeral been such a joy to us! The first Mibu believer has died and gone ahead of us to heaven! He was actually from the village of Tariknan, where Bible teaching is going to begin in early June. However, he faithfully made the weekly journey to Mibu for the five months that the Good News was being taught, and became a believer less than three months ago. We attended the funeral in Tariknan, where we saw a very definite difference among the attending believers and non-believers. Traditionally, funerals are a desperate, hopeless affair, involving tearing down doors or whole houses, long loud yelling and weeping, and beating on walls and occasionally on other people in despair.
At first, many believers were concerned that even though this man was a believer, God may still “have it in for him” because he hadn’t attended the last few meetings. They also wondered if maybe his death was a punishment for some sin of his. However, the more they talked and thought back to what they have been taught – they were able to see that all death is because of the first sin, and God just chose to take this man home now as opposed to later. We had opportunities to talk with people and remind them of how God looks at his own – that God loves this man as his own child and is NOT waiting to dish out punishment, but waiting with open arms to receive him.
This spurred on a wonderful discussion during the hike to and from the funeral of what we know of heaven, and how wonderful that it is. That this man no longer has problems, or sicknesses, or hunger or pain! When they arrived at the funeral, the Mibu believers cried for the loss of a friend (in some cases, relative), but without the hopelessness. As they watched the people in Tariknan mourning heavily, including the man’s unsaved wife and young child, their consensus was that “They just haven’t heard God’s talk yet. Soon, they will hear and understand.”
And that is our prayer, too. As this outreach to Tariknan begins, where some of the new believers will teach alongside the missionaries, we pray that soon Tariknan will also understand.