After a great trip to PNG we have been back in California about a week now. We ended up changing our tickets (and buying some new ones) to come home about a week earlier than planned because of the impending travel restrictions. We are glad we did because the day after passing through Australia they began restricting international travelers. We have been getting over jet lag and keeping our distance even more so because of our recent international travel. Last time you heard from us we had just completed the final translation check on the Simbari New Testament. Here is an update on the rest of our trip to PNG.
After the final check of the translation we headed out to the bush to spend some time with the Simbari church. We brought Raymond and Klibon along from the Simbari church in Port Moresby to help with encouraging the church out in the tribe. As we have mentioned in previous letters many people have left and gone out to live in the towns where there are more jobs and better schools. This has left the church out in the tribe with a lack of experienced leaders. Thankfully the church is still managing but please pray about this ongoing need. It was so good to get these leaders together from both town and tribe for some leadership meetings to encourage them from God’s Word and to talk through some of the challenges they are facing and give some much-needed guidance. Two of the men who hiked up from other villages to attend the leader meetings have purchased Simbari lesson books and started foundational Bible teaching in their homes in those two villages. The teaching is primarily for their families but is open to their neighbors as well.
During our time in the tribe the church came together for two Bible mini-conferences, one in our main village and another in another village a couple hours away. Raymond taught a series of messages on the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The church was strengthened by this study and some visitors heard the Gospel and trusted in Christ. One was Ekim’s wife. Ekim was one of the men who helped with the final translation checking. He has been helping us with final checks since 2013 and each time he has come home transformed from days and days of hearing God’s Word in his own language. After this last round of checking he was praying for his wife who was still resisting but had seen the change in her husband. She came to the mini-conference, heard the Gospel and placed her faith in Jesus. Another was Klibon’s brother, Kliken. Klibon had not been back to the village since he moved to Port Moresby 10 years ago. But he has been growing much in his faith and sharing that faith with his family by phone. He used this visit to the tribe to invite his brother, Kliken, to the mini-conference and he also placed his faith in Jesus. Klibon was so excited and amazed at his brother’s boldness to stand up for his new faith even though he lives in a village that is full of people who are antagonistic to the Gospel message and to Jesus.
In between all that, David and Raymond were able to work through the translation post-check revisions, Biblical term checking, and spell-checking. We completed everything that was on our list and even more. But in the last couple days Raymond received news that the settlement area where they live in Port Moresby was being cleared out and houses were being burned down. His sister’s house had already been burnt down and his guitar was stolen out of their new church building that the Simbari believers had just finished building. After arriving back in the US we called to let them know we had arrived home and asked for an update about the situation. They were just huddled together into one of the remaining houses wondering when someone would come and burn it down too and were hoping it wouldn’t be at night when they were sleeping. This is a really hard time for them but they are seeing that God wants to strengthen them through these difficult times like it talks about in Peter and James. Hearing what they were going though has helped remind us that we should still be thankful for our situation even during quarantines and TP shortages. And we need to keep loving and praying for our neighbors both here and in Papua New Guinea.
Over the next few months David will be continuing to do a full and careful read-over of all 10,000 verses that we want to print. He is making notes and then calling Raymond in Papua New Guinea with any questions about revisions. Shari is continuing to work on an illustrated Sunday School Bible lesson book for teaching the Simbari children. Thanks for praying for us and the Simbari church!