Thanks To God

Praise God! A believer from the Mina area attended our local believers’ meeting last week and with joy announced that 36 were baptized in Titirapok last Thursday and Friday! We are so excited for their obedience to what they are learning! Please pray for them as there usually is some level of persecution that results from this.

Faith is putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see. – Hebrews 11:1

It’s been such a blessing to review with the group the principles of teaching evangelism. One of the subjects we talked about at length was “What is faith?” The guys talked about this abstract concept using concrete things they understand to illustrate what faith is.

One example I loved was crossing a high bridge tied together by vines, they are depending on the strength of the vines to hold them up. If the vines aren’t enough, they will die. That is faith!

Another example was selling their coffee in town. They put their entire confidence in one person who takes everyone’s coffee to the buyers. If that person takes off with their money, they lose everything. And so the kind of person they look for is a person of whom they can say, “That person, he is able.” That is faith!

Our conclusion on what it means to have faith in Jesus: It means that we are fully confident that His death was cruel enough to appease the anger of God… cruel in the sense that a perfectly righteous person received the worst possible punishment. Our souls’ eternal destinies depend on that one thing. If, for some reason God was not satisfied with Jesus’ death, then we will be lost forever. Because, we can put no hope our own goodness, but we are resting completely on Jesus. In short, Jesus is enough.

I often wonder to myself… If I was sent here to minister to these people, how come they are the ones that are such a blessing to me?

Evangelism Review

I wish you could hear some of the great discussions we’ve been having here on Evangelism. For the last several weeks about 15 of us have been meeting to discuss questions like, “Why do we start teaching in the Old Testament, instead of starting in the Gospel of John?”

I was so encouraged by their thoughts…

Posilongge said, “By studying the Old Testament first, we see that one Person made everything. He made us and we are accountable to Him.”

Sesi jumped in and said, “If we didn’t study the Old Testament, we would have wondered if there was another Creator.”

Royfo added to that that we see from how God worked in the Old Testament what kind of Being He is – His judgment, His holiness, His mercy and grace.

Keteng emphasized that we see how God created everything – by His powerful Word – not something we can do.

Benny brought out how everything that God ever said would happen, happened.
It was either fulfilled in the Old Testament, or many things found their fulfillment at the cross of Christ. He also mentioned the Jewish religion and how important it is that we understand things like “what is a priest?”
to understand the New Testament.

Others mentioned that in the Old Testament we learn the makeup of humankind (body, soul, and spirit), the real reasons why we die, and why sorcery isn’t real.

Another said “The Old Testament is what taught us to turn away from thinking that we can manipulate the outcome of things by use of magic and charms.”

So, why the review? When the Gospel first came to Mibu, almost the whole village trusted Christ. But, there were a few that did not. And since then, there have also been people who have moved from the Nankina language group to Mibu village. As these people settled in, some began to cause trouble.

The big question in the church has been, “Do we run these people off as would be our custom? Or do we see it as an opportunity? Perhaps God has sent them here so we can preach the Gospel to them?” And so, 4 men have begun back in Genesis 1:1, gathering and teaching those who have not yet heard or understood. Please join the rest of the Mibu church in praying for these souls to be rescued from eternal separation from their Creator.

For His glory!

The man urged Paul, “Come to Macedonia to help us.” – Acts 16:9b

A believer from the neighboring Mina dialect hiked to Mibu to tell me about a conversation he had with an older man from the neighboring Ngaing language. The man from Ngaing told how he had heard the story of how the Word of God first came to Mibu, and then went out into the Mina language. He went on to talk about how he really wants to hear the message, too. He said…

“I only know a few words in the Mina language. If I go there to hear the message, I’ll miss most of what’s being said. So, I gave up and just waited, hoping…. I’ve been listening expectantly for a report but I haven’t heard even the slightest whisperings that the message will come down here. So, I was thinking to myself. ‘Okay, whenever the message comes, it comes. But! One thing is, if I wait all the way until my death, what then? What will happen to me? And all the other old people here, if they wait and wait, and then they die without hearing the message, then what? I’m very worried about that.’”

Would you pray with us for this man and the Ngaing language group? There is so much work to do, and too few to do it.

If you know anyone that is interested in missions, but looking for a place to go minister, please put them in touch with us! There are at least 99 Gospel destitute tribal groups in the Finisterre Mountains, and our hearts break for the many grandfathers, mothers, children, fathers and grandmothers who are still waiting to hear.

If you would like a list of the groups so that you can pray for them, please write and ask!

Kitanoo’s Song

Two Sundays ago we spent much of a lesson looking at the phrase in Romans 1:1 “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus…”. In church this morning, a young man named Kitanoo taught us a song he wrote based on that phrase. The words are simple, but the ramifications if we truly take it to heart are beautiful…

“Jesus bought us, Jesus bought us
He did that so we are His property
Jesus is, Jesus is ours, ours, He’s our Master Jesus is ours, ours, He is our Master.”

Looking to God’s Word

I want to say thank you to you who pray for the Mibu church. Whether you pray once a day, once a week, once in a while, or even just once, thank you!! Those prayers are indeed being answered by the Mighty God who alone rules the universe!

Many times over the past several months we have seen unmistakable evidence of our invisible but powerful God working in the hearts of believers here.
I’d really like to share with you two of those stories….

A group of us were hanging out one day talking when someone showed up from one of the churches planted by the Mibu church. This man had a letter written by one of the leaders of a local organization claiming to be Christian. This organization teaches a message of trying to earn favor with God by being good – a most impossible task.

The letter was written not by a New Guinean, but by a foreigner, who, much like ourselves, has come to this country bringing a message. Being written by a foreigner, it is automatically deemed as very important in the eyes of the Mibu. For anyone to leave their home and travel all the way to PNG, they must have something important to say. Also, there is a great respect for people who have been formally educated, as most here have not gone beyond an elementary level. Furthermore, this letter was typed, not hand written, making it even more official, more authoritative. Finally, it was written both in English (giving it prestige), and very colorful and fluent Pidgin, making good use of cultural illustrations which are so important to conveying a message here. In short, everything about this letter commanded, “I should be read and obeyed!”

The content of the letter was an exhortation to the Mibu church to embrace a false system of morality and ritual designed to earn forgiveness from God. As I listened to the letter being read, I started preparing my mind for a long conversation pointing the guys back to God’s Word, and gently urging them to have no fear of man. Yet, when the letter was finished, the reaction was not, “Okay, what do we do?” Instead, what I was hearing was, “There is no way that we are going to willfully put ourselves under a system like this. We have been saved freely by the efforts of Jesus Christ, and we are not going to abandon all that we have in Him for a system of rules that we cannot obey anyway.”

Without so much as asking my opinion, they tossed the letter into the smoldering embers that are always present in a Mibu home. After about a minute, several pages of the letter had still not burst into flames. This slow destruction of the letter wasn’t fast enough for them, so someone took out a lighter and lit the letter on fire. Everyone watched in pleasure as this evil temptation to abandon God’s grace vanished before their eyes. As for me, I just sat back, amazed at God’s Spirit, who truly does work inside of His people, causing them to become more and more devoted to Him.

The second story took place in one of the churches that was planted by the Mibu church. I love hearing these stories, because it is such clear evidence of God working in the lives of people who are being discipled by people whom we discipled. And in some cases, they are people who are being discipled by people who were discipled by people who were discipled by people we discipled. Spiritual great-grandchildren! 🙂 So, what happened was that one of those people went to town and saw a book that looked like it was about the Bible. It captured his attention, so he bought it and brought it home. However, the book was more about ancient religions, particularly the ancient religion of Babylon.

While the Babylonian religion is quite different from the religious system prevalent here up until just a few years ago, there are aspects in which the Babylonian religion would be appealing to people here. The system, just like the traditional religion of Mibu, worships things that were created, rather than the One who created everything. Both systems also rely on the thoughts of human beings rather than on the revealed truth coming from God.
And so, when one of the Bible teachers came across the book he was quite distraught. Let me say that the tendency here is to believe pretty much anything they see in print, especially in book form, coming from town. The teacher, when he reported this to me, was like, “This book that was being passed around was talking about gods that we don’t know. So I told them to stop until I could find out what the Word of God has to say about this.”

He came up to see me, shared all about what he had seen in the book, and asked me what the Bible has to say about it. This teacher hasn’t been trained yet on how to use a concordance (nor have we translated one into their language!) so I took mine and looked up some verses. We talked about what God says about the false gods of Babylon. He and the others listening were so encouraged to see how God’s Word once again speaks to the very issues that affect them. He plans to return and share what God’s Word says about this subject so that the church can be strengthened and encouraged.

Thank you once again for your prayers! They are making a difference! Please continue to pray that the men and women here would continue to look to God’s Word for answers to rightly deal with the issues that come up. And rejoice and praise God with us for His faithfulness!

Here’s What’s Going on in Mibu…

We’re several weeks into our restudy of Romans now… and it never ceases to amaze me how a deeper look into the same book can be so thought provoking! We don’t have a whole lot of translated scripture to work with yet, but I am convinced this is just what we are needing to be studying right now. And not just studied, but mastered! There is such a hunger in this 3 year old church for solid, hands-on teaching.

We have been working on practical ways to master this piece of God’s word, as well as how each concept affects our lives, our outlook, the way we relate to others, how we order our lives, and how it directs our thoughts. One of the exciting things we have decided to work on as a church is memorizing. The last several weeks, we have been printing and handing out a paragraph at a time, and are working our way through the first chapter of Romans, by memory! What a revolution! As a body, filling our minds with His word… And I just love the way that they say “memorize” in the Mibu language. It translates, “We read the Bible without looking at a book, but we read it from our heart.”

When a visiting Bible teacher from an outreached village heard the idea, he immediately tied it right back to one of the reasons we should master the books of Romans. His eyes lit up as he reflected, “Because there is a spiritual war going on, we need to feed our minds with the word of God, so that the Holy Spirit will have the victory over the sin nature in the battlefield of our minds.” Bapake, you hit it right on the spot. I am never so challenged as when I try to teach others…

In the battle for hearts and minds,
J&B
Mibu, Papua New Guinea

Desire for Holiness

Today after teaching, we were invited to a friend’s hut for lunch. Over boiled corn, taro, and greens, he shared some of the things that have been on his heart. Much of it was similar to what others have been sharing with me over the past several weeks we have been back. He expressed that he has such a desire to be more obedient to the things he has been learning from God’s Word. What a joy to hear! At the same time though, he said there is a struggle that is does not come faster. So true for all of us!

These conversations are wonderful evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in the hearts and lives of men and women here. We will all foolishly return to our own folly unless we review the foundational truths of the Word of God. In our conversation today, we talked about the need for reviewing and rehearsing the basic things we have learned to be true.

Please continue to pray for us as we shepherd the growing church, and that as we teach and mentor, we can encourage and admonish the believers to be obedient to what they know.

Thank you!
J&B
Mibu, PNG

PS I brought with me today the Mibu-written worship song book we compiled last year. As they were singing, I kept looking for the songs being sung. None of them were in there! Makes it harder to sing along, but the positive side is that they are still writing new worship songs!

We’re In Mibu!!

Hi,
Just a note to let you know that we made it into Mibu on Friday and are settling in now, reconnecting with our friends little by little. Lots of people to see and catch up with, and lots to take care of since we have been out for a year. First (re)impressions: Some of the Mibu kids had major growth spurts, wow! On the flip side, our kids have all commented that our house got smaller this year. Lol. Everything feels damp (take any US humidity and put it to the extreme, and accompany it with a cool rain), our cats look skinny, the avocado pits that germinated in our yard are now 12 foot trees, and everyone is really missing our friend, Yoonare, who passed away last month.We praise God we and Husas made it back in safely, and all in one day! Please pray for us as we reconnect with our friends and prepare to minister here. Going down for church today (a review in Acts led by various Mibu teachers) was helpful in reconnecting with those living farther away. We are glad to be back (though up to our elbows in cleaning and unpacking) and excited about starting a new term. We enjoy your emails and ask for continued prayer. Only that which God will do will be truly lasting.

J&B
Mibu, PNG