If you’ve followed my email newsletter (I send them about once a month. If you’re not getting them and would like to, let me know) you may remember that I’m doing a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) study through Acts. Every few chapters it veers off to another book of the Bible— this week it was 1 Thessalonians. As I was going through the notes, I realized that I had just witnessed an up-close example of what 1 Thessalonians 2 describes on my recent visit to one of our bush locations.
One of our 44 active church planting works, Wusuraambya, is in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Andrew and Cathy Goud are currently working there alone. They’ve been there together for 26 years, and she was there several years before they were married. They’re living among the Wusuraambyan people, teaching, translating and in general loving on them. They’ve taught through the Bible and have planted a church. There are three Wusuraambyan Bible teachers who are now taking the Good News message of what they’ve been taught to other villages, even up to a 3 ½ hour hike away.
The Gouds faithfully continue on despite severely discouraging circumstances—things that would make you want to throw up your hands and ask “Why God?” But they continue to surrender these situations to the hands of the Lord and say, perhaps He will use this for good. Reviewing 1 Thessalonians 2, the BSF notes say “servant leaders aim for others to experience life’s greatest purpose: to glorify God and to enjoy His presence forever,” and “All who live by faith actively obey God’s Word and trust His sovereignly determined results.” In the Gouds’ lives I could see that one focus— to help the Wusuraambyan people experience God’s purpose in their lives. At the same time, they are surrendered to God’s power and work in the lives of the Wusuraambyan people to make that happen, seeing themselves only as vessels that the Lord works through.
Again, in the study I read, “Paul invested his life in worshipping God by serving His people. This letter shows time well spent with people in study, suffering, grief, training, prayer and joyful anticipation.” That’s what I saw on this trip– the missionaries’ willingness to invest in people— training them, teaching the kids literacy, giving medical care— day after day, as worship to God.
Even though they are nearing 60, they’re still dreaming of ways to further God’s Kingdom among the Wusuraambyan people. They are considering moving to a new outreach location to further discipleship there, enabling the Bible teachers to move even further out to teach through the Bible among a new group of people.
Even after their main translation helper moved away, the Gouds keep working toward a complete translation of the New Testament in the Wusuraambyan language. They turned to teaching the kids to read and write in their tribal language when the adults struggled to learn. With a complicated language that can have 19 syllables and up to 43 letters in one word, it’s no wonder it’s difficult to pick up! The Gouds continue moving forward to make sure these kids will be able to read God’s Word. The kids even learn to read by reading Bible stories in their tribal language.
Pray with me for the Gouds– they have limited internet access and their four children are back in Canada. Pray that the Lord would strengthen their hearts daily and comfort them with His presence as He continues to fuel them to do His work among the Wusuraambyan people. Pray that they would not feel alone and that the Church would care for and invest in them as they invest in the Wusuraambyan people.
Pray for me as I seek to foster the relationship between missionaries and their churches and supporters so that someone is pouring into them as they give it all for the sake of the Gospel among the nations. Pray that my time in Wusuraambya will bear fruit as the media I produce develops understanding and deepens connection.