“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – (Phil. 1:6)
Oh, how should we start? There is so much to tell! First of all, thank you all so much for your continued prayers for us and the Dinangat church! The seven weeks that we have spent with the Dinangat church this summer is coming to an end, and we have lots to share with you, really good stuff and some not so good! But growing pains just hurt sometimes.
The first weeks back in here were a bit overwhelming to be honest because we were bombarded with many hard things like suffering marriages, believers that are not coming to church, believers that don’t read God’s Word, gossip in the church and leaders that are apparently not looking well after their „sheep“. Ralf and I made a visiting plan to visit different families three evenings a week. We wanted to visit as many families as possible during our time here. During our visits we asked specific questions to find out where the people are at in their walk with God and what they think about how the church is doing. After a couple of weeks we already got a good picture on where things are at and even though we heard of the hard things we also heard of some really good encouraging things going on. Here are a few:
- Toji, the oldest man here in the village, almost 80 years old, said, “I am not at all afraid of dying for I know my Saviour Jesus Christ!”
- Yoro is excited about God’s Word and keeps visiting Pimos to talk with him about it.
- Wiwititne and her husband Wamane are teaching their sons the chronological teaching of God’s Word every night.
- Yameng and her husband Asadi are doing well together. Before he would hit her when she didn’t listen to him but those times are long in the past.
- Basa, a rather strong willed man, realised that he wasn’t going to church anymore for no good reason and desires to get “hot” again in his faith instead of „cold“ as he has been lately.
- The people like the idea of having a corporate Bible reading plan where each week they read the same one chapter individually and as families. On Sundays would be space in church to share what people have learned from that chapter.
- Bau started again to teach the chronological Bible lessons to the elderly of the church.
- Esingke, a respected leader of the community, trusts God in sickness. He loves God’s Word and even brings his Bible to his garden work.
- The neighbouring village Si. is showing more and more interest in hearing the chronological teaching of God’s story in their language.
- Opangnepe and his family have an older son who lives much further away. When he comes to visit they teach him what was taught on Sundays so that he would be able to keep up.
- Yukite, a lovely young woman with lots of kids (I think there are 9!) and a man who is hardly there to help tells me excitedly how God has always helped her and cared for her and how she can trust Him with all her needs. I was so touched by her story about crossing several big mountains to go to another village to sell some little pigs in order to come up with the school fee money for her oldest daughter. I admire this woman!
Ralf decided pretty soon that he wanted to take the opportunity to teach certain lessons on Sundays. The elders and Bible teachers were thankful to get a little break. Ralf taught the last 5 Sundays about different topics that we thought were needed to challenge the growth of these young and sometimes struggling believers. He taught about the gospel… what it is and what it is not, and how it influences our lives in all areas, also about our personal relationship to God and about how absolutely necessary it is for us as believers to regularly study God’s Word in order to grow and stand strong in our faith. The last Sunday he was asked to teach about raising kids and what the Bible says about that.
The Sundays were packed with people including some believers from the neighbouring village. We were very thankful to see so many people hungry to learn and grow more in their knowledge of God’s Word and felt like they were really getting into it.
Besides endless Translation Sessions and meetings with the elders we also had meetings with the Sunday school teachers, the ladies meeting teachers and the elders’ families. We also had great opportunities to sit with some of the struggling married people who are feeling the pain of growth the most these days.
Please pray with us for the following needs:
- For the struggling marriages.
- For the church leaders that they would have strength and wisdom to lead the church and disciple and care for the believers.
- For strength to withstand the temptation of gossip.
- For growth and blooming of the Dinangat church.
You don’t have to be blooming to be growing, so don’t give up. Blooms will come because He’s faithful to finish what He begins in us. (Ann Voskamp)
And a quick little update on us personally: We are super excited to get to see Naomi and Rebekka very soon!!! They are flying back to PNG from Germany in about a week. The two of them had a great time together in Germany and Rebekka had some great experiences as she bravely endeavoured German life and work which would fill another whole update:). Rebekka’s 12th grade and Mimi’s 4th grade will start beginning of August while Naomi will take her 3 week break with us in Goroka. We are so so so very excited to have them back with us soon!
Thank you all so much for your prayers, encouragement, support. We are so very thankful for you all!!!
Serving HIM together, Schlegels.