The theme of the last seven weeks here in Amdu has been, “What work was God the Holy Spirit doing in Jerusalem?” We started teaching the book of Acts mid-January and we are focusing on the work of the Holy Spirit using the geography of that book as a way to break it down in the minds of our Amdu friends. Ultimately we will ask the question, “What does God the Holy Spirit want to do right here in Amdu?” Our students are already excited at the prospect of answering that question.
Some of the main points that have really begun to stand out to the Amdu audience have been that God the Holy Spirit came at the behest of Jesus. He didn’t come because of anything the believers in Jerusalem did to impress him. Just like God took the initiative and sent Jesus, Jesus took the initiative and sent the Holy Spirit. The idea of God’s amazing grace is taking on more significance and it is displacing the default Amdu mindset that says, “If we do the right thing, it will go well for us.” The believers are becoming more and more comfortable with the fact that, with God it doesn’t start with what we can do to please him!
Another point that has brought joy to Amdu hearts is that the Holy Spirit came and did not leave. When the believers in Jerusalem began complaining about the distribution of food, the Holy Spirit didn’t abandon them. He supplied more wisdom for them so that they would continue to grow. It is also becoming very clear that God didn’t change his message. He continued to push, “Jesus only!” and the Holy Spirit gave great help to those believers who clung to that message. Fear and persecution and even death did not overwhelm what the Holy Spirit supplied to those believers who trusted him.
As we have read each story it has been a delight for us to watch the audience hanging on every word of their New Testament. The job of translating Scripture is a very heavy responsibility. But when the portions of Scripture that you have been toiling over are being read publicly and the audience is drinking it in, it is very rewarding. That has been our experience through the first seven chapters of Acts. It is another testimony to us of God’s gracious supply through his Spirit.
We know that the growth of each Amdu believer hinges on their steady diet of the word of God, so we have started three new literacy classes. Benjamin teaches a class of older students on Monday and Tuesday. These are our most motivated students, but also the students that are most challenged. We’re focusing on concepts like, ‘top to bottom, left to right,’ and differentiating objects on a page. Pray for this class! One believer in this group said a great thing just yesterday reminding his peers, “Hey, we’re old, and reading and writing is hard for us. But what we can do, and must do is think. We need to think about Jesus and his cross all the time. When we are in the garden or just coming and going.”
Benjamin is also teaching a class of younger students on Wednesday and Thursday. They are moving at a normal pace and enjoying it. Missy has been teaching a class of women each Friday. Our daughter, Gianna, has been helping out. It has actually become a bit of a mother-daughter thing all round. Some of the ladies have brought their young daughters and the girls have been studying alongside and doing really well. So, be praying that this new literacy push would establish another group with basic reading skills that would pave the way for their relationship with God through his word – in their own language.
As I write this update, Jason Stuart and his two kids, Jedidiah and Ella Jo, are getting ready to fly into Amdu, and Jason will evaluate the translated portions of Mark, Acts and some chapters of Romans that our co-workers Bart and Emily Allen have been working on. Pray for them over the next three days that they will get through all the translated material and that the Amdu helpers selected to work with Bart will be able to focus and give a good evaluation of the quality of the work.
When the Stuart family arrives our family will be boarding the plane and leaving. We’re headed out for a planned gathering with our fellow missionaries we do once a year; it is a real highlight and we all enjoy it tremendously. Our kids have the opportunity to serve their younger MK brothers and sisters. Pray for Judah and Tiernan who are going to be leading music and Gianna who is going to be co-teaching the Bible lessons for the younger kids. Pray for Silas to enjoy being served by the older kids and to learn from them. All of them are looking forward to this time but are nervous, too, about their responsibilities.
Another thing they are preparing for is the Home School Expo they are participating in. Each of them will be giving a speech and we know they would appreciate your prayers for them, especially Judah, our senior, who is doing this for the last time. He’s moving through a very significant transition and talking about it up front is a big task. Thanks for praying for his heart as he does this. We’ll be sharing more with you about his transition in the next few updates.
We’re so thankful for all of you who have kept our family and this goal of bringing the Gospel into the lives of Amdu people in your hearts all these years. Your faithful praying and giving have been essential and will remain so into the future. Thank you for being committed with us to a thriving church in Amdu. May the Spirit of God fill your hearts with joy and contentment at the testimony of his grace here at the uttermost parts of the earth.
Benjamin and Missy