Hello everyone. Josh and Mel Simmons here. We finally made it back to the U.S., or something resembling the U.S. If I didn’t know better I would think I was still in the 3rd world country I just left, the jury is still out. It was a bizarre trip back to say the least but happily uneventful, if not a bit stressful. Actually we made it back at something akin to warp speed from the first flight to the last flight due do the lack of available routes. I think our longest layover was maybe 2 hours so our rear ends only sat down once between flights. Anyway, we made it back on June 1st and have been dashing to and fro across the eastern U.S. to see family and friends before school started, which is Today! PTL. What a crazy roller coaster ride this has been these past two months. We hope to get back to some semblance of normal, Ok, the “New Normal,” according to the vernacular of the day, insert eye role.
As most of you are aware we are starting our 1 year Home Assignment in the states after a 4 year term supporting the church planting effort in Papua New Guinea. It was a very fast 4 years to say the least. Especially the last 18 months. We were very busy building houses in the jungles of the highlands, in the swamps and on Islands! I think I was gone for 4 out of the past 12 months. It was a fantastic time of ministry. The Lord is really working and moving through PNG planting his seeds. One such work which we were involved in starting back in 2014 is among the Wantakia people group in the PNG Highlands. We helped three families build and set up their homes so they could begin learning culture and language. Six years later this June they began teaching from Genesis and this week they finished with the Death Burial and Resurrection. And Viola the Wantakia Church was born! It took 6 years of language and culture study before they were confident they could clearly present the Gospel in the Wantakia language! And it was worth it because they now have a little band of believers to shepherd and disciple.
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes ALL the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1
If you aren’t aware, there are over 800 distinctly different languages sprinkled throughout the mountains, swamps and islands of Papua New Guinea. In most of these people groups, there is no church, nor is there any work being done to establish a church. These are the people among whom Ethnos360 works. It’s our church planters to learn their language and understand their culture in order to clearly present the Gospel and effectively plant a church. Unreached people groups have no concept of the God of the Bible. So Bible teaching begins at the same place God began with His chosen people: at the beginning. Chronological Bible teaching presents a foundation for understanding Jesus’ death and resurrection. Following the pattern seen in Acts as God’s people carried out the Great Commission, we seek to establish mature churches that can take their rightful place as agents of change in their own communities and partners in the Great Commission. Thanks so much to all of you who have sacrificed to send us to this work and ministry. We couldn’t be there with out you, and the work is far from finished.
Below are Pasei and Saame, two of the first Wantakian believers. Here’s what their missionary, Jack Crabtree, has to say about their testimonies.
“After teaching the death, burial, and resurrection this week, we have spent time talking with lots of people who have given clear testimonies. And by clear, I mean Wow! Super clear! “I am a sinner. I can’t help myself. God sent Jesus to help us. He took our sin and got rid of them by dying on the cross. When the vail tore, it opened the road to go to God, through Jesus. I believe!”
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” ~ Hebrews 4:12
We look forward to meeting with many of you during our time here in the States on Home Assignment. We will be living in Shelbina, Missouri until January 2021, when we plan on moving to Norfolk, Virginia for the remaining 6 months before returning to PNG for our 3rd 4-year term. Please pray for many opportunities for us to share with people in both places about our ministry and our future plans. We’d love to share in your churches, small groups or one on one around the table. Thank you so much for your prayers, encouragement and faithful financial support. See you soon!