Speaking of his hope for the permanency of the (at the time) relatively new U.S. Constitution, Benjamin Franklin once wrote in a letter, “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” In much of today’s world change could easily be added to that list. Though we live and minister on the other side of the world from the place we call “home,” these earthly “constants” remain. They are not cause for throwing in the towel and assuming an Eeyore-like approach to life, however. They instead spur us on in our faith, encouraging us to hold evermore dearly to the surety of what we hope for and the certainty of what our eyes have not yet seen.
DEATH – Amy, and our two youngest kids had the opportunity to spend part of their spring break in North Wahgi visiting one of the families who ministers among the people there. While there, they heard about the fighting which had happened recently between two of the villages there. It began over a refusal to lend some money (less than $2) and escalated to an all-out battle between these neighboring villages.
In the course of this, in order to escape the fighting, some people from one of the villages came to stay with people from the church where this missionary family lives. While they were there, they were invited to hear the Foundational Bible Teaching (where they teach through Creation to Christ to present the gospel in the full context of the whole of Scripture). Two of these men believed and became new brothers in Christ. They went back to their village and told their families and others that they needed to hear this teaching because it is unlike anything they had ever heard.
On the Saturday night that Amy and the kids were there, they received word that one of the men, Wallup, had been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. After church they went with the believers from the North Waghi church to visit him and his family in their home. The missionary told the family that he knew they would want to blame someone for his death (he didn’t know it, but some were already planning to blame the man’s 2nd wife). He went on to explain that these things happen because sin entered the world with Adam and Eve, and though the believers there were sad that Wallup was dying, they knew where he would go. He would be with Jesus, but that was not true for the rest of them. He told them that they wanted to bring the teaching to them and encouraged them to listen.
On Friday of that same week Wallup went to be with Jesus. We are thankful that the end came quickly for him as there is no hospice care here, but even more thankful that he was a believer. The North Wahgi church is planning to resume an outreach to this area in the coming weeks as the elections pass and things go back to normal. Please pray with us that many will attend, listen, and respond to the Gospel.
TAXES – Being self-employed clergy, living overseas means there’s a whole new set of rules and regulations which govern what we owe our government in taxes each year. Just a quick glance at it and it was clear, trying to bumble through it all on our own with some tax-prep software was not going to cut it this time. How thankful we are for the team of dedicated professionals who work in our home office Tax Department. Their ministry investment in supporting us in the field allows us to invest in supporting those in the bush which allows those who have yet to hear the Gospel not only listen to the message, but respond, and grow to maturity in their walk with our Father.
CHANGE – As we close in on our first year serving here in PNG, folks keep asking us things like, “So you feel settled in to your ministry here?” or “You think you’re hitting your stride yet in your ministry here?” Uh…no.
We kicked off our time here with 2 ½ months of language and culture study, classes in the mornings and self-study in the afternoons. After that, I was off to the hangar and Amy was at home on the “ponderosa” (as we like to refer to the support center where we live), both trying to figure out what this new normal was going to look like. I was learning the ropes as an aircraft mechanic here and Amy was getting involved in ministries around the campus. At the hangar and at home there’s a lot going on…at the hangar there are planes to sell – inspect – fix, new jobs like taking on the Maintenance Controller role, preparing to fill in occasionally for the Flight Coordinator (as our backup became the primary), and preparing to fill in for our CEO during his home assignment next year. At home Amy’s juggling the all the household responsibilities without many of the conveniences we’re all accustomed to in the US, and still doing things like reading to kids at the school, hosting women’s fellowships each month, and going through Chronological Bible Teaching with her friend from the community who she’s also leading through a literacy course.
Our sending organization’s name has even changed, from New Tribes Mission to Ethnos360 (though its vision and purpose remain unwaveringly focused on going wherever is needed to see a thriving church among every people). This means that we’re now serving with New Tribes Mission Aviation and sent by Ethnos360 to support the work of New Tribes Mission PNG as they work to see God’s Gospel brought to the unreached and new believers brought to maturity.
In a dynamic environment like this we may never never “hit our stride,” but we rest assured God will give us the grace and strength to “take it all in stride” as we work to bring Him glory in all we do. Whatever the Lord brings our way, we count it a privilege to run this race together with each of you.