Through out our time in the missionary training, we heard missionaries plead to finish well. We heard of many tribes that had missionaries come for a few years or even several years then leave. They talked about the need for discipleship and people to come in and finish the job. We listened with polite ears, but our hearts were set on going into a new work thinking that joining an existing work was for those “other guys”. We loved the idea of people never hearing the gospel before and having the opportunity to share the gospel with a group for the first time in history.
We came to Papua New Guinea in 2013 still ready to go into the deepest parts of the jungle where they had never heard of Jesus. We wanted to be in a helicopter location with no way out. We wanted to go to people that the “most unreached”. But then we noticed something. As we did language study, we saw so many “churches” but no gospel presence. There was a ton of religion or “lotu-ism” as we call it here, but not a lot of truth being told. I traveled from tribe to tribe and saw so many “church” buildings but a people that were still captivated by fear. I saw just as much accusations of witchcraft and fear of the spirits and I realized the work to be done in Papua New Guinea was much larger than I ever thought.
Even with that, I still thought the new works were for us. I rejected anything that was from an existing work and was only interested in the latter. Time kept going, and after a year, God hadn’t shown us where we needed to go, or so I thought. Throughout my whole time here, people were telling my wife and I we needed to go to Kuman. Kuman has had missionaries in there for deces and were still looking for people to join. I laughed in my head every time someone asked me, like yah right, like I want to jump into a place that has had so many missionaries come and go over the years. But the Lord kept bringing it up. I got to the point where I lost all pride in going into one of these “new locations” in the deepest recesses of the earth and finally told the Lord I’d go where ever he wanted.
Then Kuman was brought up yet again. I finally listened and learned that Kuman has over 150,000 speakers and a church of about 200. I realized the work to be done here was so much more than I had ever thought. I could walk for miles in any direction and do outreaches to people who have never heard and they were in the same language! This is rare for PNG as in many other tribes, there are about 400 speakers altogether and you walk miles in any direction and it’s a totally new language that you will run into!
I was told that these people are in every city in PNG and even in surrounding countries. They are the doctors, business men, lawyers, and politicians of Papua New Guinea. The potential of these people I came to realize, is HUGE! They literally could reach this country if discipled and trained well. They have the resources and the size, but they just need the truth.
This was exciting for our team and so we finally decided to join this work. We joined the Tallmans, veteran missionaries of 17 years, and we formed the new (and last) Kuman team. The Tallmans have diligently worked amongst the Kuman and are almost done with translating the Kuman New Testament. We have now been in language study for 4 months and we are continuing to learn more about these people everyday! Pray for our team as we seek to see every last Kuman speaker reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ and discipled into maturity!