Josh and Autumn Miller
For years, we’ve been praying and looking ahead to the day when we’ll select the people group to whom we’ll go. And now, making that decision of where to go is the next step before us! Last month, Josh and I passed our final Tok Pisin language evaluation (woohoo!!) and with national language learning behind us, our team is shifting our focus to this next step before us – choosing a people group!
Woah! How do we make a HUGE DECISION that will impact every moment of our lives and ministry from here on out? What’s the process of selecting a people group?
STEP 1: LOTS OF PRAYER!
STEP 2: GATHER & ANALYZE INFORMATION (while praying)
How do we start narrowing down our choice when there are still hundreds of unreached people groups in PNG? First, the organization that assists us has a specific focus on people in the Finisterre range, which has over 70 people groups.
We also looked at which people groups might be in a strategic location to be able to reach out and take the gospel to other groups around them. (For example, a people group whose language partially overlaps with several other people groups around them will have obvious chances for outreach, once a church has been established in their own people group.)
STEP 3: GO ON A SURVEY (& pray)
|This turtle shell hanging from the roof above a porch is one visible example of the animistic beliefs that form the Pano people’s worldview. They hang these up in order to frighten away spirits that might come to their house to harm them.|
(We hope to explain more about folk religion in the future, since it is increasingly the reality here in PNG and will impact how we teach and some of the ministry challenges we’ll face).
Invitation to Come: During the surveys, the guys clearly expressed that if our team came to Pano, there are four things that we would do. 1. Learn their language. 2. Teach them to read and write their language. 3. Translate the Bible into their language. 4. Teach them everything the Bible says. We wanted the people to be clear on our ministry focus and purpose right away.
Safety: There are always risks in this kind of mission work, but we want to be wise in assessing the stability and safety of the communities in this people group. While on survey, Josh and Craig were trying to find answers to questions, such as “Is there accountability through strong leadership, which will help discourage crime?” and “Will they take on the responsibility of looking out for us as we learn to live in their difficult environments?”
STEP 4: REPEAT ALL PREVIOUS STEPS AS NECESSARY
Our team is in the process of planning a second survey back to Pano next month to get some more of our questions answered. PLEASE pray with us that we would have wisdom and humility as we seek God’s direction in making this decision about which people group He wants us to minister to. And pray for the Pano people, who so desperately need someone to bring them the good news and hope of the gospel in their language!