As I sat next to Aaron in the Patpatar mountain village observing those gathered to hear the teaching on the book of Acts, I could hardly believe my eyes. I found myself staring at a man with a bad eye, trying to figure out if it was really who I thought it was. Was that the same eye that I remember looking at the night it was almost gouged out of his head? Could this really be the man that we were woken to help in the middle of the night back in 2011?
The man I’m speaking of had been accused of working magic to kill people in a village nearby to where we lived in Patpatar. One night, it was decided he should be killed for what he had done. For those who read the chapter “Run for Your Life” in Tales from the Tribe, you know how we had helped rescue him and narrowly escaped those who were after him and were able to take him to get medical help. His eye was badly damaged and we didn’t know for sure how bad his other wounds were, but one thing we did know is that we didn’t want him to die. He hadn’t heard the Gospel message.
That had been our only encounter with him and years had passed. After the teaching, Aaron and I asked the Patpatar pastor if this was the man we thought it was and he confirmed that it was. What’s even more exciting is that this man is now a believer. He now attends the Bible teaching on the book of Acts and is learning all about the first church, what the church is, and the many lessons in the book of Acts. We praise the Lord that this man has come to know the truth and continues to learn and grow. How exciting that he is now part of the body of Christ and we will be in heaven with him some day.
Our trip to Patpatar in March was short, but very special as we were able to meet more believers and the new church in the mountain village and reconnect with the church on the coast and see how they were doing. Shortly after we left, many things changed for the province the Patpatar live in due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Finally, this week, the Lord is allowing us to be able to go back for a month and see our friends and find out how they are doing and encourage them. Through the past few months there have been many phone calls and exchanging of Bible lessons to be worked on and checked for accuracy and we are so excited as the church will soon start learning about the contents of 1 and 2 Peter and how to apply them to their lives. We are also encouraged that they are working through some difficulties in the church, but see that there are areas they are not handling as well and still need to grow.
Field wide things are starting to open up again in PNG after lockdowns and uncertainties since March. Right before the pandemic, Aaron had a 5-week trip that included helping in field orientation for our new church planting missionaries, doing culture and language evaluations in two different village locations, as well as speaking at an annual conference in the islands region of Papua New Guinea to encourage missionaries in that part of the country. The speaking part was not planned, however, when the pandemic hit, the team coming over was not able to come and caused all of us missionaries to pitch in. Although we truly missed the help and input from others, it ended up being a great conference.
As we have been in one place, Aaron has continued to develop and do what he can to help the church planting missionaries including coordinating and running video meetings. We praise the Lord as there is evangelistic teaching going on for the first time in three separate people groups right now in Papua New Guinea. Please pray for Pei, Amdu, and Wantakia people and for the Lord to open the hearts and ears of the people. Pray for endurance and unity for the missionary teams in those tribes.
We praise the Lord He continues to raise up laborers. He continues to build His church all around the world. He continues to give strength for the things that arise be it helping people prepare to go home unexpectedly, homeschooling due to cancelled school, or figuring out how to help in church planting efforts with restrictions in place. He knows. He sees.
Thank you for your part in encouraging, praying, and giving.
Aaron and Lori