Here is an update on the walkabout I made into Kakuna with Kaiko, an Ata church Elder April 11 – 15. Thank you all for praying for this time.
Our main purpose was to have a visit with the Kakuna people as it had been 3 years since I had been in there. The secondary purpose was to see if after this time of separation there would be an interest for more Bible teaching in the language. More specifically from Mamusi Bible Teachers who’s language is another dialect from Kakuna.
Kaiko and I have been talking about the Kakuna people, and what God’s leading might be for them to hear the gospel once again in the village we were in or in another village. On March 26th the neighboring tribe, the Mamusi (a similar dialect to Kakuna) has started an outreach into a village near the boarder of Kakuna. The planning for this started in 2006 and at that time Kaiko had mentioned that the Mamusi Bible teachers are interested in reaching out to the Kakuna tribe. Since the language and culture are relatively close it would be a good fit for them. If there were to be a good church established then we would consider either going in again as a family ourselves or another missionary going in and doing the Bible translation and possibly Bible lessons.
When we moved out of Kakuna all of the people in the village we had lived in moved to the next ridge over. We found in general everyone that was there were excited to see us but not as open to having someone come and teach them the gospel. We were discouraged because there really didn’t seem like a lot of change in each individual. Since it had been 3 years since we had been in there I was not sure what to expect but we thought our house might be torn down. We were correct in this it had been torn down last year. The people stole every bit of the house and what little was left in it. As a result of that I believe it has them caught up in the material possessions they have and little desire for God’s word in their own language.
There were several men who came over from the village nearest to see what was happening and who came on the chopper. When they saw us they stayed around and talked. We told them again our plans and after a while they left. The next day as Kaiko and I were talking another man from that same village came up. As he came I was telling Kaiko that this man, Kalap, was our staunchest opposition, trouble maker, and thief. He was from a religious group that was opposed to us being there. He came up to us and I asked him about this custom party he had went to in a village quite far away. He said he was there to tell them the good news of Jesus. I was shocked, but still not knowing what he meant I asked him more questions. It turns out that after our house was destroyed he found some Bible lessons from my office that was strewn on the ground. He picked up 3 of them and started reading them. As he read them in the Kakuna language he started to get convicted. He realized that we were teaching the truth and he felt sick for doing his best to kick us out. Now he wanted to change his ways and from the lessons that I had written he thought the best way was to live by the 10 commandments. We explained that they were more like a mirror to show us our sin, not a way to cleanse us. I told him it would be good to get a hold of the Bible lessons we had left and read them all through with Kiung the Bible teacher. In the end I was still skeptical but only God can move mountains. If He wanted to change Kalap’s heart it was no big thing.
On Friday morning we started hiking down out of the main village and then up a mountain for 20 minutes to the next one. Thankfully I had someone to carry my backpack. The mountains are mostly straight up and down. From the second village through to the last one for the day it took another 7 ½ hours hiking. I was glad to finally arrive in the last village around 3:30pm.
We met some people in the last village who I had known from before. They were on their way back from a cultural party. Everyone was excited to see me. It was also probably the first time a white person had hiked into this area in quite some time, if at all.
We sat in the men’s house and started making acquaintances with all the men from that village. I was really encouraged that the men who hiked with us started telling everyone our purpose for being there. They were excited about it and wanted the people in this particular village to hear too. One of the men who hiked with me then turns to me and says, “Aaron, you need to tell them why you are here. They want to hear it from you!” I told them in the Kakuna language about the Mamusi men who would like to come and do an outreach and about a possible future time (a few years) that we might return and do the Bible translation. They were all very excited about that. Kaiko was able to explain it good in Pidgin English as well. After some lengthy discussions and explanations one of the men stood up and said, “I am now going to tell all the big men about what we have just talked about. If we really hear God’s Word in our own language, I will not sleep at night; I will sit up all night talking about it in the men’s house.”
As we got ready to depart the next morning the same man came up to Kaiko and said, “We will wait for you (Mamusi Bible teachers) then.” Kaiko thought this was a big step in the right direction.
We hiked another 7 hours out to the timber company road and after a fruitless effort to get back to home that day we spent the night in a village. We then caught a truck at 5am and arrived at home at 7:30am on Sunday morning.
Please be praying that God will make His timing clear to all of us as we are involved in this future outreach. Pray for the Ata & Mamusi Bible teachers meeting April 19, 20 as they discuss their overall church planting strategies. We are not sure how or when the Kakuna might fit into this. Most of all pray for the people of these villages who are interested in the gospel coming in their own language. They may have to wait a while for the right time for the Bible teachers to come. For their sakes we pray that it can be sooner than later.