Last week we were excited to have our coworkers, Butch and Tammy Kunzer, back in the tribe with us. They had been away for a while tending to other needs so it was great seeing them again. Unfortunately, one of their reasons for returning was to let the Patpatar people know that they will be leaving permanently. Because of several circumstances, they believe God is leading them to close the chapter on their work here in Papua New Guinea. We will miss them and their part in the ministry here. They will be missed by our Patpatar friends as well. We have enjoyed their friendship and partnership over the last 10 years.
Our other missionary coworker, Madonna Yates, has been faithfully plugging away at learning the Patpatar language and culture over the last 3 years. In that time she has built great relationships and helped us out in the ministry in so many ways. Last week, while the sad news of the Kunzers leaving was becoming reality, Madonna received some good news. After an extensive evaluation by myself and another missionary consultant, we are excited to say the Madonna has reached the necessary level of fluency to begin doing translation and assisting in other areas of the ministry.
The timing of all of this seems a bit ironic. In June our family will headed back to the States for a time for our long awaited home assignment. Because of our situation here in the tribe and with Kunzers gone and Madonna being a single gal, she will not be able to continue living here in the village by herself while we are away. She will continue to work, but will be based in a town several hours away and will try to get back into the tribe as often as possible for short stents of time. There are a few possibilities already for her to be able to get back into the tribe for visits, one being fellow missionaries and believers from neighboring tribes to come in for a few days at a time here and there to encourage and come alongside the Patpatar believers.
That brings us back around to our other coworkers, our Patpatar brothers and sisters in Christ. The young believers who have been growing and helping teach will continue to meet, teach, and now assist the brand new believers. I am grateful for them and truly value them as friends and coworkers in the work God has given us among the Patpatar. Last week the village meeting that I was summoned to in order to answer questions from some who are opposed to the work did not go so well. After some initial questions and answers, myself and some of the other believers endured being yelled at and threatened. Walking away from the meeting, one of the first men who got saved about 3 years ago and is now helping to teach others, walked alongside me and said, “I am so glad that we have this burden. If we were just trying to follow the thinking of the world they would not be angry with us. But we are standing in the truth and for that we will have trials.”
As he spoke, I couldn’t help but think about Acts 5:41, “The apostles left the council, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name [of Jesus].” My Patpatar coworker had encouraged me and I know that God can use him and others to do the same to others.
So as you think of the work that God is doing here in the Patpatar pray for:
· The Kunzer family as they finish up packing and move out of PNG and settle into life in America.
· Opportunities for Madonna in the coming year to get into the tribe often and for the work she is beginning in translation.
· The new believers and the young Patpatar Bible teachers who will be continuing to teach and disciple so that the church can grow in number and maturity.
We appreciate the Kunzers, Madonna, and our Patpatar coworkers, but we want to also express our appreciation to those of you who continue to pray, give, and encourage us in the work God is allowing us to be a part of with the Patpatar. You too, though in a different way, are our coworkers to the Patpatar.
ALL for Him, Aaron
Fact – We have been asked by a few people if another family will move into Patpatar to replace the Kunzers. The fact is that there are needs all over the country of Papua New Guinea, but we continue to hear the phrase, “lack of personnel.” Indeed the fields are white unto harvest but the laborers are few.