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, Joey, 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!
Because the truth has set us free,
Joey and Brooke Tartaglia
Shiloh, Marietta and Solomon