Friends and supporters, as always, I need to start by saying a BIG THANK YOU to you guys for your help and support as we are working here in Papua New Guinea! I am sharing this news with you today because there is NO WAY how we could ever do what we are doing if it is not for GOD and his grace and enablement! All honor to God who continues to restore His image in this world, and on these Islands. God has been gracious, and it has been amazing to see what God is doing amongst the unreached and the churches here in Papua New Guinea! But also, a big thank you to YOU for your faithfulness as you participate in obedience to proclaiming HIM to the ends of the earth!
WORKING YOURSELF OUT OF A JOB
These last months I had the opportunity to live on our main support center, and my coworkers had the opportunity to continue without me being around. It reminded me of an article written by a fellow missionary, and he quoted from Howard Taylor’s book, “Spiritual Secret of Hudson Taylor” which says,
“I look on foreign missionaries as the scaffolding around a rising building; the sooner it can be dispensed with the better – or the sooner, rather, that it can be transferred to serve the same temporary purpose elsewhere.”
I learned again that even though scaffolding is important, we should not give it more glory than its due, because it’s temporary and will be removed. Over the years and now again, over these last 6 months, I have learned that there’s a continual battle in our minds and hearts from focusing on Jesus as the master builder to focusing on ourselves. It has been good to step away and see how God uses the larger team to continue the work and be reminded that I am put a small part occupying my role temporarily. And being reminded that it’s not about me, but about God being glorified through His Church.
Pray for me to remain faithful in walking with God and remembering who I am and who HE is!
PARTNERING WITH THE EXISTING CHURCH IN PNG
As you guys know a core focus and responsibility, we have as an organization is to assist the ministry of the local church, to reach the unreached, and then to establish mature thriving multiplying churches to God’s honor and glory. This is not only the vision of our organization but also a biblical mandate.
My co-workers and I are often challenged by this responsibility to present the church of Christ as a pure bride, and it compels us to depend more on Christ! (2 Cor. 11:2). God also teaches us that reaching the unreached, and establishing thriving, mature, multiplying churches is done as a body of believers. And so our partnership with the church in PNG and with you guys has helped us tremendously in this and we are looking forward to seeing more of an interdependent model established. This has been our core focus in ministry these last years and we are working towards more intentionally pursuing this interdependent partnership.
Pray for us as we dialogue about a partnership strategy to interdependently reach the unreached and see the Church of Christ mature.
SOME OF WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING THIS YEAR
Reaching the Unreached – Even though we are focusing on the existing church and equipping her into sustainable growth and multiplication we are not losing sight of the unreached. And therefore is a privilege to see teams of missionaries allocate, learn languages, and then get ready to start teaching the gospel. We had the opportunity to visit the Maliyali team as they prepare to start teaching the Gospel soon. Recently I traveled with Brandon Buser, his son, and two national elders from the Biem church who assisted us in evaluating how the preparations are going and giving some steer.
Evaluating the church – One of the tasks of healthy shepherds is to be able to evaluate those they shepherd and recommend and assist in needed adjustments to influence toward continual growth and maturity. In our effort to partner with the established church, we have included the leaders from national churches in New Britain in this. This partnership equips them into this needed process and we at the same time learn from them, as they have an insider’s perspective on what’s the real condition of the church. We had the opportunity to go as a team together with some National leaders into the Mamusi people group to do such as evaluation.
Leadership development in Central New Britain – You might remember that one of the requests
the churches in New Britain had was to be better equipped as leaders. So last year we worked on developing 10 modules on Biblical leadership within the church, which gives a biblical overview and application. This has been completed and we started to teach these to leaders in various locations. In February, my coworkers taught these to leaders from churches in central New Britain. They had leaders attend from Mengen, Mamusi, Ata, Mangseng and Nakanai. And the teaching was presented by leaders from Maleu, Mouk, Anem, Lamogai, and Loko.
Leadership development on the North Coast of New Britain – Then in May, the National Leadership team traveled to the Maleu people on the far western corner of New Britain. Here they met with selected leaders from churches on the North Coast, coming from Maleu, Kombe, Anem, Lusi, Mouk, Aria, and Ivanga. The teaching was presented by Ata, Mamusi, Lavongai, Maleu, and Mouk leaders. The leaders from these various churches will now regroup and identify a team amongst them to take the teaching back to their various local language group churches. And towards the end of the year, we will try to visit each of these local churches to evaluate how the churches have understood and applied the teaching.
Equipping the church into using God’s Word – Working with the church has always involved studying God’s Word, applying it to our lives, and developing accurate teaching into some form of curriculum that they could continually use. These last few years the national leaders and I have been asked to work through this and then develop some material that could assist the leaders in areas of “The doctrine of the church”, “Biblical overview of leadership” and “Biblical overview of support”. This has been used as a resource for teaching and discipleship amongst the churches in New Britain. We also have a team that has reviewed our literacy program in our national language and now started to review the post-literacy material to incorporate critical thinking skills, so that believers can study and apply God’s Word better.
Equipping the church to support itself – We know that a healthy indigenous church can sustain itself in Church Development and leadership, but another aspect that plays a crucial role in the sustainability of an indigenous church movement is the aspect of support. Its been a privilege to have Ineke Haaring as a coworker and someone who carries a huge load and does an amazing job of training our national coworkers in a lot of the technical aspects of support. She is s true servant, and someone always ready to help in any way she can even if it’s very inconvenient. Toumusi and Ki are being trained, along with Palava and Grace, into many aspects of the support roles that we traditionally do for the churches.
Pray for us as we continue to develop our partnership with the church to see them equipped and growing towards sustainability in Shepherding, outreach, Church Development, Leadership, and Support.
– These coming months, Marie and I will continue to live on our main support center and work on making needed adjustments in our lives and ministry to be able to ensure our walk with the Lord stays our main focus and seeking Him for how the partnership with the National Church should look like.
– I will continue to revise, edit, and format the curriculum we developed as well as continue to dialogue and work on literacy resources that could assist in developing critical thinking skills.
– The National Leadership Team will be visiting various locations in New Britain to teach and disciple leaders into a Biblical overview of leadership.
– The Leadership team will also be visiting three existing churches that are without missionaries yet struggling in various areas. They are wanting to evaluate the situation and then collaborate with the different churches in New Britain to provide assistance.
Please pray with us for the above!