While on our home assignment from our work on Manam Island, we did the normal things every missionary does. We connected with our financial partners, spent quality time with friends and family, and got plugged into our church community. However, we also took on another role during our time in the states. But the story doesn’t start there, it starts back in February 2005.
I, Sean, was sitting in my dorm room in Humphrey’s Hall at the University of Arkansas. The one dorm on campus that didn’t have air conditioning at the time (kids these days don’t know how good they have it). I was broken, alone, and on the verge of getting kicked out of school for poor grades because I was spending my time drinking away my failures as an 18 year old. That’s when two seniors (one of which chose to live in the lowly dorm) knocked on my door asking if they could share with me an illustration that sums up the main theme of the Bible. Normally, I would have sent them packing, but that evening I decided to hear what they had to say.
Six months and much truth seeking later, I believed that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection was all I needed to be in a restored relationship with God. This changed EVERYTHING!!! From that day forward I sought out discipleship and ways to grow in my relationship with God. That summer I attended Kaleo, a summer long discipleship project put on by Student Mobilization (StuMo), the campus ministry those two seniors were involved in. I spent my days working on the beach and spent the nights and weekends being trained to share my faith with other students, lead Bible studies, and disciple my peers at the University of Arkansas.
That summer there was a special weekend called the Missions Conference. I heard Claude Hickman of The Traveling Team give talks on the Biblical basis of missions, the task remaining, and what we as college students can do about it. That opened my eyes to the idea that there are entire language groups out there with no access to God’s word in their own language. It wasn’t long before I started seeking out ways that I personally could serve among one of these people groups. Now, 13 years later, I’m learning a language on an island volcano off the coast of Papua New Guinea with the goal of establishing a thriving church and making a clear translation of the Bible into the Manam language.
That brings me back to the other role we took on this home assignment. We took advantage of several opportunities to speak to college students about taking responsibility for remaining task of making disciples among these unreached peoples. The biggest opportunity was when StuMo asked me to go back to Kaleo to be the speaker for the missions conference… at two different projects. We spent one week in Destin, FL speaking and meeting individually with students from the University of Arkansas and the University of Central Arkansas. At the end of the week, Jinny and I flew from Destin to San Diego, CA. There we spoke and met with students from the University of Wyoming, Colorado University, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, University of Arizona, and Arizona State University! At both projects I spoke on the Biblical narrative of missions, the task remaining, and how they can get involved.
We prayed leading up to those two weeks that God would raise up 10 students and 2 StuMo staff from each project to get trained and serve as Church Planters and Bible Translators to the unreached. By the time we left San Diego, there were over 40 people interested. However, many will take the exit ramps long before they ever begin training. Some probably already have. Would you pray with us that God would work in the hearts of these young men and women? That He would raise up 24 laborers to reap His harvest? We know from personal experience that the road is long, tiresome, and difficult and has many exits along the way. These students need your prayers so that one day they can bring the Good News to those who have yet to hear it in their own language. Also, pray that the students who do not feel the conviction to go would be faithful to do their part in staying through praying and giving financially to see this work done. Just because they aren’t convicted to go does not mean they are not obligated to take personal responsibility.
Hearing about all those things 13 years ago was part of the Big Picture of establishing a thriving church among the Manam people. To see what your next step might be check out http://go.ethnos360.org/big-picture.
Thanks for being a part of what God is doing to reach the Manam people as well as the people groups these young folks will one day be serving among.