As I traveled this summer, I shared the story of the Menya people, of the day when they became our brothers and sisters in Christ. What a day that was!
It happened during the sixth week of teaching, when the missionaries came to “Cross Day.” This was the day they were going to present the significance of Jesus’ death, burial and glorious resurrection.
Can you imagine being a Menya on that day? Arriving at the meeting, knowing that answers are forthcoming, you are met by a missionary. He has a paper in his hand, a Certificate of Death. That would be a tad unsettling, right?
“Are you a descendant of Adam and Eve?” the missionary asks you. You say, “Of course!” — because that’s been made clear to you throughout the teaching.
Next, he asks, “Do you sin?” How can you respond with anything other than “yes”? Did not sin begin with Adam and Eve, and hadn’t you just admitted that you were a descendant of Adam and Eve? Didn’t the lessons make it clear that we all fall short of God’s standards as presented throughout Scripture, that we are all sinners? … And I think you’re seeing where this is going.
You watch as the missionary checks the box for death on your certificate. You want to shout “Don’t!” — but you know that is what you deserve.
Sitting down, you wait for the lesson to begin. You’re somber, but somehow still hopeful.
You listen intently as the missionary explains what Jesus accomplished on the cross, how He took the punishment for sin that we deserve. Tears well up in your eyes. Jesus paid the price. You understand that now.
Any lingering doubts are dispelled as you listen to the missionary read Colossians 2:1-14. What truths reach into the depths of your soul! He’s forgiven you, canceled out the certificate of debt against you and nailed it to the cross!
Through tears of joy, you see the missionary motioning to a rough-hewn wooden cross leaned against the wall at the front of the meeting hall. He says, “If you are believing that Jesus has paid your debt, you can show that … by sticking your ‘Certificate of Death’ to the cross.”
If you were a Menya and if you were there that day, I think you would have looked down at that Certificate of Death in your hand and joined the many other Menyas that walked forward, sticking their Certificate of Death to the cross. Because that’s what happened that day. An infant church was born among the Menya people.
As I celebrated Thanksgiving, intentionally reflecting on all we are thankful for, thankfulness for God’s gift of grace, for salvation, hit the top of my list. And if Thanksgiving were celebrated in Papua New Guinea, I think the Menya believers would be agreeing with me.
Another thing I’m thankful for is YOU! Thank you for partnering with me to see people groups like the Menya reached with the Gospel message.