Originally shared April 8, 2019
So when you learn a new language one of the first things you learn about is how they use pronouns. In Pidgin there are different words for ‘we’ based on how many people you’re talking about and who is included in the ‘we.’ For instance, if it’s me and you, it’s mitupela. If it’s you all and I’m not included, it’s yupela and if it’s me and you and at least one other person it’s yumi. One funny thing I find myself doing is referring to the other missionaries here in the ‘yupela’ (you all) sense, and sometimes I forget that it’s really ‘yumi’ (us). I am part of this group now. It’s strange though, because I still feel like an advocate for “the missionaries.” Just taking my role from WCC (Warsaw Community Church) and moving it to PNG. I am grateful to be here, with the help and prayers of many of you, learning what it’s like to be one of ‘yumi.’
A few weeks ago, I was able to go to the Eastern conference, where missionaries from the 15 tribal works in the Eastern area of PNG came together at their support center to share updates and spend time in fellowship. What a blessing for them to be able to come together once a year and share struggles and pray for solutions and encourage one another. And while it was a little like being a new in-law at a family reunion, a little bit on the outside, it was an amazing opportunity for me to hear their struggles and victories, the burdens and their faith. This work of planting a thriving church in a tribe that does not have the Gospel, a church in their heart language, is hard and discouraging work sometimes. The language can take 5 years or more to learn. There may be opposition and persecution to people coming to faith. There may be apathy and sin just like in any of our churches. Then of course there’s the isolation and loss of friends and family and comfort. A lot of the families in this area serve alone — starting out in a team but for some reason or another the rest of their team has gone home. I was brought to tears several times with the hardness of it all, but yet, they, over and over, gave the work to the Lord. Who is up for this task?
Sometimes I start with narrow thinking, and I think, I’ll do this thing . . . and then I realize how much better it would be if my efforts were multiplied and many people were doing it. When I first arrived here, I thought I would send out birthday cards and small gifts to missionaries in the tribe. Then I realized that would probably be around 20 people/month including the kids. It was also a lot of work to figure out when the next flight was going out to a location to know when you’d need to have the card in the mail slot. If I was going to go to all that effort, I decided to invite everyone here at the support center to do it as well. Same with encouragement. I thought I’d send letters out to people to encourage them, and then I thought why not let other people know of the need? How much better would it be for the receiver to be encouraged by several people rather than just me? Especially since it would be more likely that they could read other people’s handwriting!
And isn’t it that way with all things? Isn’t it better to include others in the journey you’re on in growing, praying or blessing others?
One of the things I did not expect my role to entail, that has just come about from my desire to see a gap filled, is connecting support workers here at the center with those in the field living among tribes. I want to help us all know how to pray and encourage. My ultimate goal would be to move that prayer and encouragement out even further to the churches sending us. So, I’ve started a church newsletter I’ll send out every other month to give churches and supporters ideas on how to engage with us well. Click here to sign up if you’d be interested in receiving this email.
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