Zach Cann

Zach Cann

sent out by Grace Bible Church to plant churches among the Ndo people


Unbeknownst to most, one of our constant duties here is dispelling rumors about why we’ve come. News spreads fast in Papua New Guinea. Everyone is interconnected through various familial and social ties, and so it does not take long for news of interest to travel long distances; however, similar to the telephone game, the message often gets tweaked and misinterpreted along the way.

Some have thought that we’ve come to destroy the Lutheran church. Others have thought we’ve come to help them with our access to American goods. Still others have thought that we must sell eye-glasses because our organization is called “Finisterre Vision.” Many wonder how our work will compare to other missionaries that they’ve seen or heard about. Will we build airstrips for them? Will we open schools? Will we coach soccer teams? And the list goes on.

Our guide (Mr. Kais) and Matt on the road to Yokea 1.

Yesterday, Matt and I went to the nearby village of Yokea 1 in order to build relationships with those outside of our immediate community. And one of the ways we do this is by sharing what we hope to accomplish among them.

Yokea 1 is a two hour hike up the opposing ridge from our home in Mawerero. If you can remember back to our first hike through these mountains you might recognize that name. It was one of four Ndo villages that we visited during our survey of the language group.

You can actually see Yokea 1 from our homes, but it looks a lot closer than it is. You have to hike down one mountain and cross three rivers before you can hike up the next.

A look back at Mawerero after arriving in Yokea 1.

Matt and I spoke to a group of leaders and about 50 school kids about the reason for our coming to Papua New Guinea. We want to clearly communicate a message from God (the Bible) in a language and a manner that they understand. To do so, we want to spend years among them to learn their language and their way of life.

It is helpful to have a good friend and coworker amidst all the hiking and language learning and myth busting.

And we not only told them what we plan to do, but also what we are not planning to do. And when we do this, we don’t merely tell them, we give them a picture. We collect a pile of stones and say that each stone represents a worthy project… building a school, running a clinic, coaching sports, teaching English, building airstrips, etc. And then we ask:

“What we would happen if we tried to carry all these stones?”

“You’d drop some,” they’d reply.

“But what if we just carried one or two stones? How likely would it be that we would drop one of those?”

“You wouldn’t,” they’d say.

And in this way, we show them why we don’t take up many projects. We say “no” to many good things so that we can focus on the best. “Someday,” we say, “you will hear a story that we think is the best news. At that time, you can decide whether or not you think our labors have been in vain.”

The people of Yokea 1 were overjoyed at the news, which surprised me. After saying no to so many of their requests for money, plywood, computer training, etc., I expected them to think little of our mission. Instead, they said: “We hear many things in many languages and it’s hard to know what is true. We are glad you have come.” And our guide from Mawerero said that he heard them talking excitedly in Ndo about how God’s Word would come to them in a language they could understand.

At the end of our time in Yokea 1, the leaders said many should hear the real reason why we’ve come, and so they sent out all the students back to their homes in the surrounding villages to share what they heard from us. So now we have 50 young ones helping us eliminate myths surrounding our work here. Praise God for the help! It will take Matt and I many months to get around to most of the Ndo villages! (And Lord-willing, our little ambassadors are dispelling more rumors than they’re starting.)

A few of our fellow mythbusters

A panorama of our corner of the Finisterre mountains as seen from Yokea 1.

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