A bunch of us crowded into Keteng’s hut to hear the outreach team talk about progress of the outreach so far in Yongem. Looking around the room, I watched people absolutely riveted on Devit, Yooyooro, Lookas, and Jems as they recounted this last week’s events. For 2 hours they shared how things are unfolding as God’s word is being taught in Yongem. Excitement and gratification were written all over the faces of the people listening as the outreach team reported specific individual’s responses. They leaned forward at the mention of each name as they learned how their relatives are responding to God’s truth.
The team reported that people are falling into 3 groups – the allegorizers, the easy life seekers, and the those that are understanding the heart of the message. I found it fascinating how different Mibu people could identify with each of the three different groups, having been there themselves just a couple of years ago. In response to people’s hang-ups and objections, they kept saying things like, “The Bible lessons will address that in a later lesson, they will understand.” It was so cool to see how they could relate.
So far, the teaching has gone up to the Cain and Abel story. As the Mibu Bible teachers teach, they communicate these accounts as being actual historical facts. But the first group, the allegorizers, try to find some hidden meaning in what is being said, rather than accepting it at face value. For example, because of the fertility cult mentality here, the story of Cain and Abel was interpreted as an allegory of the process of giving birth. Cain represented the child, and Abel the afterbirth. Cain killing Abel was akin to the cutting of the umbilical cord. Please pray for the people that are allegorizing in this way. They completely miss the point of the lesson as they try to find an applications for having more children, better producing gardens, and more success in hunting. Pray that they would learn to accept it for what it says. We have watched many Mibu people come out of this system of thinking, and are confident that it can be done.
The second group is the easy life seekers. These people are following along in the teaching and accepting the truth of the Scriptures. However, the biggest hang-up for them is that their expectations are much more temporal. They are hoping that by attending and understanding the Bible teaching, somehow it will cause them to have an “easy life” like they see in town, complete with electricity, no garden work, money for groceries at a store and time to sit around and do nothing. Having come out of this type of dreaming, many Mibu people are very optimistic about their relatives in Yongem eventually understanding the heart of the message, coming into a right relationship with God. Please keep praying for this group that they would be convicted of their sinfulness and learn how to get right with God, not so that they can derive a temporal benefit, but an eternal one.
Lastly, there is also group of people who are accepting the teaching at face value. They are concerned with their sinfulness in the sight of their creator, and are looking to hear about the provision that He has made for them. A very old man named Daidai said, “This is the very first time I’ve heard this.” Another man, Joel, said that he has never heard the Bible stories in this light before. According to the teachers, their questions indicate that they are following along and really understanding. How exciting!
As the lessons progress, there will be many opportunities for the teachers to address the hang-ups that people are facing. Please pray that those who are hanging on to their non-biblical world view would be able to see through it and understand God’s point of view. Also, please pray for me and my family as we head over to Yongem tomorrow to spend a few days with the outreach team there.
For His Glory,
Joey and Brooke Tartaglia