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?
I wish you could hear some of the great discussions we’ve been having here on Evangelism. For the last several weeks about 15 of us have been meeting to discuss questions like, “Why do we start teaching in the Old Testament, instead of starting in the Gospel of John?”
I was so encouraged by their thoughts…
Posilongge said, “By studying the Old Testament first, we see that one Person made everything. He made us and we are accountable to Him.”
Sesi jumped in and said, “If we didn’t study the Old Testament, we would have wondered if there was another Creator.”
Royfo added to that that we see from how God worked in the Old Testament what kind of Being He is – His judgment, His holiness, His mercy and grace.
Keteng emphasized that we see how God created everything – by His powerful Word – not something we can do.
Benny brought out how everything that God ever said would happen, happened.
It was either fulfilled in the Old Testament, or many things found their fulfillment at the cross of Christ. He also mentioned the Jewish religion and how important it is that we understand things like “what is a priest?”
to understand the New Testament.
Others mentioned that in the Old Testament we learn the makeup of humankind (body, soul, and spirit), the real reasons why we die, and why sorcery isn’t real.
Another said “The Old Testament is what taught us to turn away from thinking that we can manipulate the outcome of things by use of magic and charms.”
So, why the review? When the Gospel first came to Mibu, almost the whole village trusted Christ. But, there were a few that did not. And since then, there have also been people who have moved from the Nankina language group to Mibu village. As these people settled in, some began to cause trouble.
The big question in the church has been, “Do we run these people off as would be our custom? Or do we see it as an opportunity? Perhaps God has sent them here so we can preach the Gospel to them?” And so, 4 men have begun back in Genesis 1:1, gathering and teaching those who have not yet heard or understood. Please join the rest of the Mibu church in praying for these souls to be rescued from eternal separation from their Creator.
For His glory!
This week the Bible teachers in Mibu are taking their first try at writing their own Bible lessons. Yesterday, ten guys sat around in the office with me thinking, writing, and joking as they began to put their thoughts onto paper. I reviewed with them some of the basics of Bible lessons writing, just as I had learned them. Speak naturally, write out word for word what you want to say, check the material with someone else, etc. These lessons will be taught at their Christmas service. The material is very familiar, but having to use their own notes will help to develop their lesson writing skills even further. Our job isn’t over yet here in Mibu, but with each new skill that they develop and master, I see the need for me becoming less and less.
I was blessed reading the following excerpt from one of the lessons they wrote about Jesus coming to earth.
“Why couldn’t people understand the essence of God’s being? Because He is an invisible spirit being. Therefore, so that people would understand who God is, He took on the attribute of having a body and was born.”
I don’t usually picture theologians in tattered clothes and dingy baseball caps, dirt from garden work or blisters from pig-fence mending still on their hands… and maybe you don’t, either. Then again, no one expected the King of Kings to arrive as an infant, did they? 🙂
May God continue to delight us all with His creative genius. Merry Christmas from Mibu, Madang, Papua New Guinea.
The Mibu church has been busy with preparations for her next outreach. Just what goes into getting a group ready to teach? One of the biggest things is simply familiarizing them with the material to be taught, this time from a teacher’s viewpoint instead of the hearer’s. Also important is giving them an understanding of the philosophy behind our teaching. It’s common knowledge that we teach from Genesis 1:1, painting a picture of God through his actions in the Old Testament. But as we teach, there are specific themes that we bring out about the nature of God, Satan, and man. For instance, as we teach creation, we don’t just teach, “On the first day, God created this, on the second day… etc.” We emphasize that in creating everything, God was showing us that He is God. We magnify His awesome attributes, such as His knowledge, and His power, and His love for man.
It is during this time of preparation that the Mibu evangelists are developing their abilities to read a point in a lesson, determine the main themes, and teach accordingly. We work on helping them see beyond just reading the lesson out loud to their audience, but using the lesson as a guide and teaching what they know. Keeping to a theme is a major key here. Rather than simply pointing out what the themes are in each lesson, we have them study the lesson and write down the theme. Then we go over their conclusions. One thing we found after this had been going for a couple weeks was that even though the lesson themes are concise, they are still fairly lengthy to write out. So we had them come up with pictures to represent lesson themes. I loved seeing what the guys came up with!! Here’s a smattering of some of my favorites:
To represent God’s being present everywhere, they draw this picture.
“BV” is an abbreviation for their term for God, “Bamnyu Vangun.”
As the evangelists prepare to teach, they draw this picture next to any point that has to do with God’s attribute of being present everywhere. Then, as they are teaching, at a glance they can easily and quickly refresh their memories as to the main point they are working to get across.
Here’s their simple picture for when they are teaching that God is holy, and by nature his character does not allow him to associate with sinful man.
I like their picture for God’s faithfulness. He does what he will say he will do. When we taught in Mibu, this attribute was paramount, as they place a high value on a person who follows through with what they say they are going to do. This is a timeline. Exactly what God says will happen, it happens just like that at a later point on the timeline.
The picture they chose to represent the need for trusting in God’s very sure promises to save us from our sins looks like this: It’s a man crossing a river on a log bridge. Here, where this is a common event, the picture speaks volumes!
These are only a few of the pictures the teachers use to trigger their memories. As they prepare, they come to a conclusion for themselves which theme or themes are being taught. Then they check their conclusions with the the more experienced teachers who have been given a list of all the lessons and their respective themes. This seems to really help the guys “own” the lessons they teach.
Please be in prayer for us as a church, as there is still much prep work to be done before we are ready to move on with confidence. I feel so much joy working with these men whom we had a part in leading to the Lord, and teaching them how to lead others! Many are now involved in the training process themselves, and I simply act as their cheerleader. It truly is a delight getting up in the morning and doing this as my “job”! (Positions available, inquire by email! 🙂
For His Glory!
We just arrived back in Mibu after going out for our yearly school testing. The kids did well, which gives us the courage to keep plugging away at home schooling, even if we’re only parents, not teachers! 🙂 It does seem like we’ve been gone more than home lately. Our whole family spent two weeks over on the island of New Britain attending a translation workshop. We learned a lot, and really enjoyed getting to know some of the missionaries who work in the islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea. Our kids loved the time spent with the other missionary kids there (they love ANY time spent with other MK’s!!)
The day we returned from testing, the Mibus were able to use a helicopter supply shuttle to also fly in Sivi, who has been very sick and was in the little clinic on the coast in Saidor. He is dying from meningitis (a severe complication from malaria) and his family wanted him home to finish looking after him and bury him here. It has been hard for all of us to see him like this; but the Mibu church is rallying around him and praying with him and his family.
We had a communion service on the Thursday before Easter, that was led completely by the Mibu leaders. It is so refreshing to see them so thankful for the eternal life they have been promised. We worshipped together while Keteng led us through the story of the last supper. After the communion service, worship continued through the evening and went all the way until the next morning!
We have been so encouraged with the evidence of God working in their lives. He is working in our lives, too, and teaching us so much. Thank you for your love and prayers for all of us!
Just after we presented the Gospel in March of this year, 2 Miboo men, Sesi and Keteng, attended a two week translation seminar. They learned what it takes to have a good, solid Bible translation.
Since the village of Tariknan is the last village in our language group, the Mibu believers are beginning to prepare for crossing the language barrier. They have caught the vision of bringing the Gospel into the two related languages on either side of Mibuland, Jerung and Mina.
In preparation for the future outreaches, Sesi and Keteng recently held their own translation seminar. The idea is to take two Mibu guys who are bilingual in Jerung, and two Mibu guys who are bilingual in Mina, and teach them translation principles in one week long seminar. However, a total of 12 guys ended up attending! What an awesome response! Just today as I was walking home from church, Bapeke was talking to me about all the sacrifices he learned that William Tyndale went through in order to translate the Bible. And what a joy it is to hear these guys chatting about the technical aspects of a good translation.
Please uphold in prayer these two language groups, Jerung and Mina. (Pronounced jair-ung and minn-ah). Together with the Mibu people we have set the goal of reaching out to them early 2007. The church still needs to finalize the plan as to where to go first. There are over 1,000 pages of evangelism lessons to translate in the meantime, so plenty to keep everyone busy!
So far, Genesis chapters 1-2 have been translated into Jerung. Andrea Knotts, who is visiting us for the summer, typed the translated materials into the computer for us. Andrea is also teaching two Mibu girls how to type in order to help us keep up with the workload. We are so glad for the blessing that Andrea has been to our team.
A few facts about the Mina people to the west of Mibu: There are 11 villages ranging in population from 25-110 with about a total of 850 people. Mina people regularly intermarry with Mibu people, so there are many bilinguals. When we taught in Mibu, 54 people from 10 Mina villages came and were saved. The word “Mina” means “what”.
OK, now the Jerung people on our east: There are 10 villages with a total estimated population of 1,500. There are 10 believers from 4 different villages as a result of the teaching in Mibu. Jerung and Mibu people also intermarry. The largest village of Gwarawon has an airstrip. The word “Jerung” also means “what”. In a recent meeting, all of the Jerung villages officially expressed an invitation to have the Word of God taught in their villages.
For His glory!
I wish you could meet Royfo, one of the Mibu believers who is laboring alongside us in the outreach to Tariknan. Royfo’s name has a bit of a story to it… He comes from a village where there are 3 other people named Roy. In order to avoid confusion, each Roy has been given a number. So, there is “Roy-one”, “Roy-two”, “Roy-three”, and of course our friend “Roy-fo”. 🙂
Royfo was among the first here in Mibu to trust in Christ, and was also a graduate of the first literacy class. Royfo was married just last year to a young girl from Mibu named Oolaipe. (pronounced oo-lie-pay). We recently heard that they are expecting their first baby soon! Since Mibu people believe that pregnancy starts when the mother first feels the baby kick, it’s harder to guess at a due date!
Royfo was one of 8 or so men who volunteered to bring the gospel on to the next village. We had an awesome time this last week together in Tariknan teaching up through the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Royfo could not contain his excitement when, at the very end of the Sodom/Gomorrah lesson, one man stood up and said, “We are like the people of Sodom, and like the angels that warned Lot of the coming judgment, you guys have come here to warn us of God’s wrath against our sins.”
During the evenings at Tariknan, we often just sit around and talk with the guys. Royfo is very curious about the end times and the judgments to come. You should have seen his and Gero’s responses as they were reminded that prior to the judgment, God in his gracious love for us believers will take us up into heaven just as he did with Enoch. Gero passionately exclaimed, “Oh, the mercy of God, Oh, the mercy of God for us who believe in Him!”
In one of our evening chats, Royfo questioned me as to how many believers there are worldwide. He was interested in much work is left to be done before some from every language group have heard the gospel. I told him about the different language groups in the world that have no representatives in heaven, and also of the 100+ unreached people groups in the Finisterre Mountains (the haystack of a mountain range of which Mibu is a but a tiny needle). What undeniable evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in Royfo’s heart! Upon hearing of the Gospel destitute tribes remaining still in Papua New Guinea, Royfo said, “When you missionaries are done with your work in Mibu, maybe you guys should go on to another country, where us New Guineans cannot go. Let us New Guineans finish the work in New Guinea!”
Royfo’s heart and enthusiasm for the task at hand is an absolute joy. Though I would never dampen his zeal, I believe reality is that it will take many, many more missionaries of any and all nationalities to completely reach the rest of Papua New Guinea. Pray with us for more laborers for the harvest! People like Royfo who have just met their Lord and Savior and cannot wait to share Him, as well as people who have known God for many years.
Awesome things are still going on over here in our corner of planet earth! Not the least of which is that we have started teaching in Tariknan, a village about 3 hours away from Mibu. The teaching been going on for two weeks now, and we have taught up through the fall of Adam and Eve.
Unlike the evangelism phase in Mibu, where we missionaries were the only teachers, in Tariknan much of the teaching is being done by the Mibu believers! Geoff and I are there with them, partnering with them as they reach out to their own people with the message that they have taken hold of themselves. These new believers/teachers are filled to the brim with excitement seeing evidence of the God of heaven actually working in their own hearts and lives.
On Monday the teachers expressed concern that 3 of the leading men of Tariknan were not attending the teaching. We prayed together about it, and wouldn’t you know it, the next day one of the 3 of the men that was prayed for showed up, and has been attending the teaching ever since. Not only is he there, but he is obviously cut to the heart over the message he’s hearing.
It took several days to teach on the fall of man and God’s promise of a Deliverer. As we prepared together for teaching, we prayed that God would give each of us wisdom as we taught. It is so awesome to see the Mibu teachers presenting the material, not straying from the outline, but adding their own culturally relevant illustrations that the Holy Spirit has given them. Afterwards we thanked God for his faithfulness in giving us the words to make the truth relevant. They are growing by leaps and bounds even while God is using them and stretching them as they reach out.
One Mibu teacher, Kivisi, closed a lesson with this illustration: He placed two pieces of paper on the ground about 6 feet apart. He then said, “One of these papers is light, and the other is the darkness”. He then showed them that all these years they have been living in darkness, but now that the Word of God is come, they are beginning to step towards the light. And he promised that when they get to the end of the lessons, they will see clearly as in the light. What a way to end this lesson in which God promises to one day send a Deliverer to save mankind!!
What an effect the Word of God is having in Tariknan, the last village in Mibu land without the Gospel! These Mibu teachers are spending part of their days just hanging out with the guys in Tariknan, answering questions about the lessons. After the series of lessons about the fall of man, the Mibu teachers reported that the Tariknan people are to the point of tears over the sinfulness of all mankind, and their own inability to buy off God’s anger with money, ritual, or promises to obey.
We often share with the Mibu teachers, “We’ve never seen God with our eyes, but we have seen the evidence of Him at work. When he answers our prayers as He is so obviously doing in such magnificent ways, we see the evidence of His existence.” Meanwhile, back at the believers meeting in Mibu on Saturday, Sesi got up and addressed the believers during testimony time saying, “It is God and only God who is causing some from amongst us to proclaim His word without fear.” What a joy to hear this newborn babe in the Lord giving the credit where it is truly due!
“Every time you teach, you launch a process that ideally will never end, generation after generation.”
-Dr. Howard Hendricks
We have started using the literacy classes to train some of the guys as future teachers! It is amazing for us to sit back and watch them doing a much better and more natural job of teaching than we ever could. Please continue your prayers for them and us as we take these little steps in preparation to hand the literacy program over to them completely.
Love in Christ,