“A Murderer or a God?”

Finisterre Vision: Important Update and Need

Reaching the Remote

Is It Time? – Follow-Up Email

I went to visit Moofore again at his hut. Walking up the path to his place, I felt such a sense of the bigger purpose God has for us during our stay on earth. Isn’t it incredible that hundreds of people can be praying for the salvation of one man on the other side of the earth? What a privilege it is to be involved in what He is doing in the world.

Moofore called me in, and we sat talked for a while on local matters before the conversation moved to spiritual things. As we caught up, God brought to mind the many people who wrote to say they were praying. Thank you, each and every one of you who prayed! The only thing I felt lacking as we talked together was the lack of other Mibu believers there with me. So many others here have been involved in sharing God’s Word with him over the years. No sooner did I have that thought, than two Bible teachers from the Mina churches (8 hours away) and one of the teachers of the Mibu church poked their heads through the doorway!!! As they walked into the room my heart was bursting at how God was answering our prayers. I looked at the men God had sent at just the right moment (even the right day!). Each of these men has sacrificed for the sake of the Gospel. And now all this coming together for one crippled old man! God’s patient love truly is great!

The timing was right, and we were eager to talk about Christ. Moofore soaked it up, interspersing questions and thoughts of his own. We discussed Jesus being born sin-free, His being God, and also Emmanuel – “God with us”. We talked about how he was called “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” We talked about how Jesus miraculously fed thousands of people and how so many of them sought Jesus not for a relationship with Him, but to get more food out of Him. Finally we talked about how Jesus was punished not for His own sins, but for ours. And how God’s anger for sin was given completely to the One who never sinned. In illustrating the wrath of God being absorbed by Jesus, one of the men pointed to a sheet hanging in the doorway that was casting a shadow into the house. He said that God’s wrath is like the sunrays, and that Jesus is like the sheet that absorbed the sun, casting a shadow for us to rest safely in.

Moofore spoke and answered with real understanding, so we asked him again where he thought he would go if he died. He said confidently that he would go to heaven. We asked him about his previous stumbling block – his own sin.
His reply: “Because of my own sin I deserve hell. But our penalty, I mean, MY penalty, has been paid by Jesus!”

Rejoicing along with the angels,
J&B
Mibu, PNG

Is It Time?

Moofore’s house and garden is one of my favorites in the whole area. His steep yard drops away on three sides, showcasing a wild panorama of the surrounding mountains and valley rivers. It is still the only place I’ve been where both the village of Mibu and the village of Beng can be looked down upon from one single spot. It makes me happy to think of Moofore here, on top of his local world. Because of the severe deformity of both his feet, he seldom leaves his own yard.

When the Gospel was first presented here 5 years ago, we stood by and watched with amazement as God turned almost every adult to Himself. But there were some who did not believe. Moofore was one of them. I’ve gone to visit with him twice since coming here a few weeks ago, and today the conversation touched on spiritual things. This was the first time I have seen evidence of concern for his own sin and status with God. He asked about overcoming the real problem of sin and its penalty. At that point, I asked if we could pick up the conversation again in a few days, and asked him to keep thinking about that very question, and to ask others what their thoughts are. (After hundreds of conversations about this, I know there is a lot of good understanding out there.) I told him I’d visit again in a few days, and would like to ask you to pray with me for Moofore before we continue. Might this be his time to understand and believe the Gospel?

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?

Yongem outreach

“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces MANY seeds”

Mibu:

We sat in church in Mibu on Easter listening to the Mibu Bible teachers as they led the service. They took verses on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and related it not only to the Easter story, but also to our everyday Christian walk. They taught carefully verse by verse, bringing big smiles to our faces as they seamlessly switched between teachers, and involved other believers in reading the verses out loud. That they had carefully thought about and studied beforehand was obvious. We felt in some ways like proud parents as they dug deep into the verses and sought to use them to build up the church.

Benny, who is not a church leader but is a community leader, stood after the service and gave a wonderful illustration. He said, “It is just like a peanut. When we put a peanut in the ground, it does not produce just one, but many more peanuts. When Jesus died and was buried, did it stop everything? No! He rose again and now there are many, many children of God because of what He did. It is the same in our own lives. When we see ourselves as having died with Christ and dead to sin, God will work in our lives and use us to spread the gospel into the nearby areas, and further into the rest of the world.” We are very excited that one of the Mibu teachers’ goals is to keep training more guys to get involved and teach, so that they can teach others, and reach the next generation of the Mibu church, as well as the surrounding communities, and the world!

Yongem:

After 17 weeks of foundational teaching through the Bible in Yongem, the Mibu teachers have presented the gospel to the village! The response to God’s Word was phenomenal, and a new church has been born! The Mibu teachers have been listening to the testimonies of the new Yongem Christians, and bringing back wonderful reports. Their enthusiasm is so contagious! They reported to the Mibu church that just a few days after the gospel was taught, a man named Alfons died of sickness. The teachers shared with the baby church from John 14:1-7, and that Alpons is already now experiencing all that they have just been learning about heaven and being with God. Jemsnannya, one of the new believers, stood and said, “Before, when someone would die we were without hope and used to follow our ancestors customs, like spitting to the sun. But now is the beginning of the harvest of our people going to heaven.” Once again, God’s message of hope is changing lives.

The Mibu teachers plan to continue to meet with the Yongem church and teach a short review of the Old Testament, and then the book of Acts, and ultimately the whole New Testament. During that time they are making plans to take some of the Yongem men and begin to train them to be part of an outreach team to 2 other Mina speaking villages! Seeing the gospel go out and multiply like this just blows our minds… thank you so much to all of you who have been a part of this amazing journey with us.

New Yongem brothers and sisters in Christ (and some of the future missionaries to the rest of the Mina villages):
Porenoo, Tekoko, Wawo, Yanape, Pelpel, Joel, Sipitnang, Jon, Elisabet, Yongal, Monika, Sewasewa, Mateti, Maguret, Ana, Fransis, Loven, Jois, Loosiya, Soosen, Nasinom, Looneve, Klemens, Doroti, Maine, Manoo, Apeke, Foolibiyang, Javalin, Emos, Joolita, Maloo, Erin, Ookibiyang, Agutu, Enjela, Look, Mainoove, Ase, Anave, Looli, Mak, Matiyas, Enoong, Maiki, Jejin, Jungjung, Ekim, Levi, Ben, Molup, Kwasooke, Sivitung, Japba, Penoo, Pol, Munggali, Manyukupuyi, Mex, Maloom, Sipong, Litoos, Lomak, Kundem, Pol, Goojil, Deta, Irom, Mosang, Looloo, Krista, Kristina, Tape, Memeyoo, Kunooboo, Ninaik, Gelson, Alpons, Lawasi

For His Glory!

Yongem Update

The team of evangelists from the Miboo church continue to tell God’s story in Yongem. The Yongem people are learning about God’s mighty power as seen when He brought the people of Israel into Egypt and miraculously back out again. During another lesson, the teachers put on a skit depicting a court session. During the session, several people offered a version of what happened in a crime, but it was only the testimony of the eye witness which was valid. Afterwards, David stood up and explained that we all have our own thoughts and beliefs about God, creation, and history, but God’s testimony supersedes our thoughts because He was eye witness to these things. Dreams, things our ancestors taught us, and our own concepts of God are all surpassed by the testimony of God’s word.

God’s Spirit is at work convicting the people of Yongem of their sin and of the truth. Markoos, a man who had been resisting the teaching openly by distorting the truth, humbly proclaimed publicly, “I have no further objections. I will only ask questions when I’m confused, but no longer to oppose or distort.” The teachers selflessly spend hour after hour after the lessons are over, explaining and re-explaining the lessons to those who have questions. The three groups in various stages of accepting and denying the Bible truths have melded into a more unified, open and seeking group. Praise God!

Bapeke, a former idol worshiper, now teaching the Word of God to the people in Yongem, stated fearlessly, “Before I used to go into the clan house and participated in many different customs. I discarded it all, and now have joined myself to the word of God. This message is the only way, and you should believe it. Listen to the message and decide for yourselves.” The response from the Yongem people was total silence, which in this culture is indicative of heavy conviction.

The Bible teachers have seen the importance of being direct in their communication, and in wisely contextualizing the message to their hearers. When David taught a point on Jacob and Esau that he knew would easily misunderstood, he presented gently but plainly, “When the Bible says, ‘Jacob,’ its talking about a person. If it was talking about afterbirth, it would have said, ‘afterbirth.’” Making these clarifications are necessary for good communication, and so worth the time. The response from the people in Yongem after hearing about Jacob and Esau was one of conviction.

When story of Jacob and Esau was taught, they responded, “We are just like Esau, who didn’t care about God, but only about temporal things. We have spent our lives thinking it is about material gain, rather than God and His word. Sin has covered us completely. Do we have to make our own way of salvation, or will God help us?”

3 Groups

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.