If there is much rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents, how much more an entire people group hearing the gospel for the first time and many responding in faith! If you feel like being encouraged, read through the following responses to the Biem people of Papua New Guinea hearing of and responding to the glorious grace of God…
Here is the summary of the Gospel presentation fromWayne Chen, one of the NTM missionaries working with the Biem:
“Enough, enough. Stop! Don’t hit him like that!” A Biem lady shouted out loud from the back as the Roman soldiers (Brandon) put a beating on Jesus (Thomas). On the last day of the teaching, we acted out Jesus dying on the cross, the burial and the resurrection. People looked on intently, trying to understand what it all means. After the drama, we taught…
Jesus is our sin substitute. The penalty of sin is death. But God always provided, just like the Old Testament. We brought them back to Noah, God provided a boat (with one door). Abraham and Isaac, how God would not let Abraham kill his son but provided a substitute. In the Passover, the blood on the doorpost was the only way to avoid death. People have been thinking hard about these OT stories for weeks and now they are all making sense.
Jesus defeated death. Jesus rose again and death no longer has power over Jesus and those who trust in Him. Death is feared no matter where you live but in a tribal culture like Biem, it is openly, regularly exhibited. The endless wailing at funerals, the finality of death and the pure dread of dying…death is a big deal to our guys here.
When we believe in Jesus and what He has done on the cross, our spirits become alive again in God’s eyes. We used a permanent black marker on a white board and wrote some names on it and said, “whoever believes in God’s talk, God will put his name in the book of life and it will never be removed.”
We concluded with the Great Commission and Jesus’ ascension. We told them it is because of this “talk” that we all left our families in Taiwan, Germany and US and came here.
Guys, there is so much more I can type here but let me just get to some of the responses after the lesson yesterday.
“Mali? Mali? Mali Muel?” (Really? Really? REALLY?) The top fisherman on the island just kept on asking this question, in total astonishment in what Jesus did on the cross for him. He just kept on looking at everybody around him and popped the question, “Really? really?”
“This is God’s talk. I’ve heard it. See, it’s just one story, from the Old Testament to Jesus. There is no other road but Jesus. God meant it this way from the beginning.”
“I am so free (the Biem expression is I am no longer carrying a heavy load on my shoulder)! I used to think all the good things I do would get me to heaven. But every night when I go to sleep, I knew I had not the slightest clue where I’d go if I die. So I’d get up the next morning, trying to do more ‘works’ so I can go to heaven. Now I know that Jesus paid for my sin debt and He said it is ‘finished. I am so free.”
A young guy sat next to me, with a biggest smile on his face. He didn’t say anything so I asked him, “what’s on your mind?” He said, “Wayne, I had a big question yesterday. Why didn’t God the Father help Jesus on the cross? I thought about it all night and I didn’t know. But after today’s lesson, I don’t have any more questions. I got it. I understand it. I am just going to sit here and be happy.” He smiled on…
And one young Biem man has a message for YOU. Yes, YOU. He said, “I know I should thank God for you guys but I want to thank all three of your families for bring God’s talk here.” Then we told him that, no, it’s not just the three families. There are literally thousands of people praying for you guys to understand God’s talk all over the world. He then said, “Ok, then you go and tell them, ALL OF THEM, THANK YOU. God’s talk has come to our island. THANK THEM for praying and sending you guys here.” This young man, along with a few others, began to discuss how they need to take this talk to other islands and even different language groups in Papua New Guinea. I shook my head and just marveled at the Holy Spirit. He is at work already! It took me how many years after salvation to even wrap my head around the need for “missions” but these guys are talking about it minutes after they trusted in Jesus! At that moment, I was no longer “the missionary” but a fellow brother in Christ, learning from our Biem brothers in Christ.
Guys, again, this is just the beginning and there is much growing ahead for our Biem believers. Persecutions will come (and have come already). Many people are still against this talk. But as John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness and darkness can never extinguish it.” The light broke through and it is here to stay.
Here are a few of the testimonies from Brandon Buser:
Walking back at 3:00AM in the morning, a buddy (who by now has been talking about his new faith for hours) can’t contain himself. Every 100ft or so, he keeps stopping our group as we walk, because he needs our eyes looking right at him. He says, “Brandon, this talk of the Road Man, what Jesus has done, it makes me so happy inside!” I say, that’s great buddy. But he’s not satisfied. “No, you don’t understand. This is a whole new kind of happy! I’ve never felt like this before. It’s not like when I go fishing and I catch those really big fish. I bring them back, they cut them up, then the happiness is done. It’s not even like our custom parties. We dance, then eat, smoke, and chew…but then it’s done. This stuff isn’t like any of that! I can’t stop feeling this happiness! I’ve never felt like this before! This talk is so so ‘savory’!”
-I walked up to big Chief’s house the other day to check on him. His family was gathered around and I asked what was going on. “I’m just getting ready to teach them through one of the lessons. They are bit by bit understanding this talk.”
-Another fella said, “I can’t stop thinking about this talk. It’s what I think of when I first get up. Yesterday, I woke and that’s what I started talking with my wife about. We went to the garden and were there all day talking about this talk of the Road Man. Then all of sudden it’s night and we have to stop. But in the morning, we start all over again. It’s always on my mind.”
-Another one of the guys: “Brandon, I now know this talk to be true. It’s completely true! No one will ever rip these house posts out of my thinking! (we used an analogy all through teaching about how these Biblical truths are like ‘house posts’/the foundation of their belief. If they aren’t planted well (on the Bible), then it won’t stand). Brandon, I don’t care even if you told me something different now…I still wouldn’t believe you. Why? Because as you guys taught, I saw it was God’s Talk (in the scriptures) and not just your own. Now, I will never believe different again.”
-A girlfriend of Rachel said, “I’m so glad I don’t have to try to help myself anymore. My big worry is gone knowing that Jesus did it all for me. Before I would sin a little and it would worry me. Then I would go and pray, because I thought by praying I would become clean. Now I know that didn’t do anything for me. Only Jesus can make me clean.”
Let us all praise God together for what He is doing as He builds His church!