This forest of trees represents the team of people partnering with me to send me to Papua New Guinea. The trees are made from the proof pages of Bible translations in tribal languages. Pray for these translation projects going on around the world.
So, I’m getting close. In less than 3 weeks now, I take off and arrive in Papua New Guinea to start the real journey- living in a new culture with all new people and learning a life different from what I’ve always known. Plus doing a job I don’t necessarily know how to do! It’s going to be uncomfortable at times, but I’ll actually be living in a nice area with good weather in the mountains, with running water and electricity, some normal food, and internet access. . . that isn’t quite what we’re used to but a connection nonetheless. I’ll live in a Christian community with people who are all working to support God’s Word going forth and being known among people who don’t know Him.
The real troopers are the tribal missionaries I’ll be helping to support. They don’t have all those comforts. They live among people who don’t think or believe the same way they do. They live with them to try to understand how to communicate with them at a heart level and to understand the way they view the world. They do this so that they can one day present God’s truth to them in a way they can understand and relate to. It’s intentional. It takes a long time and patient endurance. One missionary I’ve emailed with has been there for over 30 years learning the language, translating scripture and teaching so that a church can be established among that people group.
It’s similar to the way Christ came to live among us. Jesus left the comfort and honor and power and holiness of His position in heaven to live among our sin and dirtiness. He lived among our wrong thinking and wrong treatment of one another.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8
For these missionaries there’s a long wait before the gift of what they’re offering is recognized and appreciated. It’s a long time before they know the language and culture well enough to share the Gospel. Just as Jesus was not at first received and recognized, neither is the message of His messengers. That is why, as these missionaries face rejection, misunderstanding and frustration over not seeing more progress, it is essential that they feel the support of their brothers and sisters within the Church. Through them they could have the encouragement, prayer and affirmation that they need to keep going and reminders that what they are doing is worth it.
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1: 9-12, 14
God came to live among us- Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23), so that we could have a high priest who empathizes with our weaknesses and who is able to relate to our temptations and our lives. (Hebrews 4:15). And so we too must go and live among those who don’t know of His saving grace and love for them. They don’t know freedom from ancestor and spirit worship. They don’t know the truth of His Word and the guidance of His Holy Spirit. They don’t know the name of the Lord.
“ ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” Romans 10:13-15
Even as I consider myself and what I’m going to do, I can see that as I desire to serve missionaries and support them well, I need to become one of them to really be able to relate to how they might feel and what they might need. I already see things differently.
Thank you to so many of you who have prayed, spent time helping me learn and prepare, have given gifts, have poured wisdom, truth and encouragement into me and who have supported me financially to make this journey and my support of other missionaries possible.