We’ve been back in the States for a few weeks now and it’s been awhile since we’ve heard from anybody in the church in Patpatar. One of the elders of the church named Tokiung called me from a small town almost an hour from the village. He was waiting there with his family and all their belongings for a truck to come by and take them to another village on top of the mountain. He went on to explain:
“ Brother, they have driven us out of our home in the village again, but we are not worried about this hardship. Instead we are thinking about the book of Acts when the persecution came on the church and helped the Good News go out. So we have talked with the church, and our family is going up to [the village on the mountain] to tell them clearly about literacy and God’s Word.”
For years a village in the small mountain above the coastal village where we worked has been asking if someone could go live with them to teach Patpatar literacy and to share God’s Word. This was the same village where many of Tokiung’s clan and distant relatives lived and he has been burdened to move up there with his family. Until now though that was not very possible.
He had been one of the few initial Bible teachers that had worked alongside me with the small Patpatar church and if he had left then it would have had huge ramifications on the local believers. Too, he and his family needed to be more grounded themselves, and be fed and taught from the Word, and surrounded with other Christians.
About a year ago that started to change. Another elder and three deacons were appointed in the church and others were being trained. I started stepping into the background more and more and so did Tokiung, allowing others to step up to the plate and lead. Meanwhile the antagonism against the Christians continued with threats, ostracizing, and attempts to kick them out of the village. At one point, Tokiung and his family had to leave their home and didn’t know if they would be able to return.
They were able to. And things seemed to be better. Until now.
Since we’ve been back in the States Lori and I have been praying that God would grow His church among the Patpatar. This was not the way we were expecting it.
Pray for the Patpatar church as they have talked this situation through and made this plan together, but will now feel the effects of one of their leaders being away. Pray for Tokiung and his family who have been given time in the mountain village this coming Sunday to explain what they would like to do with literacy and the teaching of God’s Word. Pray for the believers in the midst of the continuing antagonism and those for those who are causing it.
On This Side of the Globe
In the meantime, our family has been back in the States for almost a month. We have traveled 4,000 miles, been in 4 different churches, and have had a wonderful time having a vacation with Lori’s parents, seeing family, and meeting friends. Avalon turned 17 and was able to ride horses with her cousin; and Briella turned 5 and got to ride a giraffe. Next week we will head up to Iowa where we will be based during the school year and will be finally able to unpack our bags and get settled.
In my downtime, I have been working on finishing a book that I am writing called Tales from the Tribe about our time in Patpatar. Here is an excerpt that has been written about it: Tales from the Tribe is a missions-focused devotional that will inspire you, challenge you, and educate you. These incredible true stories come to life from the jungle to your home. Get ready to see, experience, feel, and even taste what its like to be a jungle tribal missionary.
It will be released later this year, and I will post more info about it later, but in the coming days look for the chance to vote for what cover you think should be on the book. I will be posting a poll via Facebook.
Also, this last week, we were featured on Ethnos360 website. If you haven’t seen the article you can at https://ethnos360.org/mission-news/the-good-in-goodbye.
We appreciate your prayers for the Patpatar church and for us as we reconnect with many of you over the next year and look to our next chapter on the mission field in Papua New Guinea when we return.
Aaron and Lori, Avalon, Sierra, Kylee, and Briella