The summer months are a time here when there is dryer weather, and actually it turns out to be cooler than normal. It’s also a time when people here make small gardens around their house. Common things you would see in someone’s vegetable garden here in the village are eggplant, meter beans, shallot onions, ginger, cucumbers, pumpkins, lemon grass, and chili peppers.
It requires a good bit of work, time, and thought to have a successful vegetable garden. Of course, there is the rare event when something just grows up without any plan or effort on our part. But for the most part planting things and getting a harvest require major effort. In our little garden we must guard against village pigs, chickens, snails, fireflies, ants, and fungus. Any of these things can ruin a plant and or the entire garden. Beyond those things, making a garden close to home where there are lots of hungry or curious little people, can discourage the most well thought and prepared gardener.
I could go on to talk about the preparation of soil, sufficient light, and regular watering but my real point is not to talk about gardens. Our vegetable garden is a perfect analogy to the ministry God has called us to in this area of the world. Aside from all the challenges it has been wonderful to see a small community of believers growing up in a hostile environment. This also connects back to our garden analogy. God is the ultimate gardener. He causes the growth, and we can only participate with Him in the process.
Recently I have been working on lessons through the book of 1 Thessalonians. I can definitely relate to the agony Paul felt and his sincere concern that the small group of believers in Thessalonica (or in our case Deranuk) would fail to endure Satan’s onslaught (1 Thess 3:5). I see in Paul a mix of confidence in God’s work, as well as concern that the believers would fail to excel through the trials they were facing. These trials Paul says are their (our) “destiny” (1 Thess 3:3).
So for all of you who have been a part of supporting us through the years, please don’t give up! Please don’t stop calling out to God for the people here in the Jelai River area. Pray that God’s kingdom would come here as more and more people hear the gospel, and grow up in their faith. Pray with us that the believers would endure the trials they are destined to face. That they would excel through these things, and reflect more and more the new life they have in Christ.