(Originally posted November 16, 2019) Something that has started to stand out to me as I continue in this Bible Study through Acts, is the amount of time that passes. In reading Acts before, I was under the impression that things happened one thing after the other in a matter of months. But in reality, it took over 15 years before the Jewish Christians were willing to accept the Gentiles as their brothers and sisters in Christ and it took 13-14 years before Paul started his missionary journeys.
Change takes time. Equipping takes time. Maturity takes time.
But as we go through the history of the early church you can see how God moved them step by step. He gave them what they were ready for, gave them time and then moved them a little further. I can certainly see how God moved me step by step in preparing me to come here. Can you look back and see God’s faithfulness in your life to prepare you for the next step?
As I think of all the church planters I work with here, about 153 missionaries working in 44 different tribal locations throughout the country, I’m sure at some points they are discouraged at how long this process takes—for change in people’s worldviews and their hearts and lives. But hopefully in reading Acts we can all be reassured that they are in good company. The Church wasn’t ready and mature enough to reach out to those around them that were different until years later when they realized that you don’t have to be circumcised and become Jewish to follow Christ. Christ is for everyone.
Here there are several mature churches in tribal groups that are now wanting to reach out to their neighbors with the good news of Jesus Christ— villages wanting to reach other villages within their own people group. Then there are tribes that want to reach out even beyond their borders. Mouk believers reaching out to the Anem people and the Lusi people. The Inapang church wanting to minister to the Tangguat people and the Mengen wanting to reach the South Mengen. Crossing these cultural boundaries and language barriers is not easy, but Christ has so changed their lives, they want those around them to have that hope as well.
As I’ve been posting on the NTM PNG social media, I mainly just post prayer requests or about the needs there are, but this week I was reminded that it’s important to share the praises and victories as well. There is so much that God has done here– tribal locations with mature churches that are able to take the torch and carry-on to reach other villages and other people groups. In a country as diverse as PNG with over 800 languages, the task seems never-ending, but God is building His church in Papua New Guinea. It just takes time and the obedience of His people to take the next step forward. It’s a good thing our confidence is in Him and not our own strength to see this work through. God’s plan is not flawed, and He is faithful to see His promises through in reconciling humanity to Himself through His Church.