Maria was right. The beginning is a very good place to start. “Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do” were the first musical notes the Vontrap family children needed to master to become the talented group of singers they would later become. In the classic film The Sound of Music, Maria knew that before they could build into complex musical numbers, the children would need the basic musical foundations to start. Wise advise from their singing tutor.
When you want to read the latest New York Times bestseller, I doubt you turn to chapter four or maybe chapter six to start. You probably do what makes the most sense in order to understand what is going on in the story: you start at chapter one, the beginning. This makes perfect sense. Why on earth would anyone start in the middle or somewhere in between? That would be a good way to get really confused really fast.
The beginning is a very good place to start.
Studying the Bible should be no different. Our world and everything in it had a beginning. The human race had a beginning and everything about our reality as humans living on this planet has a history to it. From the Scriptures and the One who inspired it, we learn that there was a beginning, we learn how everything started, how the human race got where we are today and we learn what God promised to accomplished through the promised redeemer. When trying to understand what the Bible is all about, and therefore what life is all about, we must start at the beginning of the story. There is no other place to start.
Back to the Beginning
Right now a very exciting thing is happening here in our little Tigak village. We are going back the beginning of the Bible’s story once again. Our two Tigak Bible teachers are, for the first time themselves, teaching through the Bible starting in Genesis and working their way through the Scripture’s overarching redemptive story. This is a huge answer to prayer but also a reason for many more prayers.
Let me fill you in.
When we joined the Tigak church planting team it was because we saw a huge need for discipleship. The church planting team had already lost the family that was mainly responsible for this role. Their partners (our partners now), the Bealls have faithfully plugged away at translating the Bible into Tigak language and have made excellent progress for which we and the fledgling Tigak church praise God for. It had been at least three years since the Bealls had partners in the village, and without them here the Tigak church, ten years old this coming year, has been in desperate need of teaching, discipleship and further equipping. As we have settled in on our island, built relationships with the Tigak believers and taken an active role in the life of the Tigak church, we have learned a lot about where the church is at and what it needs.
Currently, the small Tigak church has been made up of a wide spectrum of people in their relationship to God. There are some who are believers but needing much growth in their faith, some who are kind of curious about the truth and come when they feel like it, and even some who attended regularly, yet do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. They come out of religious obligation.
The longer we have assessed this situation the more apparent it has become that something needed to change. Many of the believers had significant gaps in their understanding of basic Biblical principals and most had never been discipled, including basically all of the women with possibly one exception. The unbelievers who were in attendance were hearing lessons taught and upon deeper inquiry it had become evident that they could not understand most of what was being taught. This was because they lacked a Biblical foundation for God’s redemptive story and the work of Christ on the cross. When it came to the church, most were unclear about what it was and saw it as just something they do on Sunday, our of habit and religious observation.
Because of this, it was determined, through much prayer and consultation with our church planting consultant team in the country, that we would need to reboot the teaching program. Its purpose would be to get everyone back on the same page again, clear confusion about key themes in the Scriptures that some of the believers had, and to clearly introduce the unbelievers in attendance to the Savior.
So, we have again started at the very beginning… after all, it’s a very good place to start! 🙂
So far so… Great!
This reteaching of the Bible’s story from start to finish is not meant to focus on the whole village at this time, but only for those who have been attending the Tigak church, both saved and unsaved. This time is also crucially important because it is the first time that our two Tigak Bible teachers, two brothers named Robin & Paska, will be learning how to teach these chronological Bible lessons themselves all the way through for the very first time! We are very excited and have been encouraged with how it has been going so far. Robin & Paska have energetically taken on the responsibility of team teaching the lessons and have been very willing to accept guidance from Tom on some of the practical details. Of course, there is much they still need to learn but so far the progress has been positive and we anticipate continued growth in them!
The lessons are being taught on Sunday mornings during our regular church time. Though the normal pace of this particular teaching program would be daily lessons spanning several months, at this time we are only covering two lessons each Sunday. However, we are encouraged by the fact that it is happening! The lessons, written in the Tigak language by our co-worker and team translator, Ned, along with his former co-worker, are now being team taught by Robin & Paska. Most everyone has been taking notes, at least by writing down the main points of the lesson by copying them off the chalk board. There has also been a few extra people who heard that this teaching would be happening and have decided to come, which is also very exciting! This past week, the fall of Adam & Eve was taught, which is a crucial turning point in Biblical history and everyone has been so excited to continue learning what will happen next!
Aside from what happens on Sunday, we have set up two times a week to make the lesson time as effective as possible. On Monday nights Tom meets with three of the male believers to encourage them, help them in their understanding of spiritual truths and answer any questions they may have. This time with the guys has consistently been a huge encouragement to all of them and we are excited to see where it will go in the future! The men are continually thanking Tom for helping them understand and have said that it has been a huge encouragement! Every week the guys meet outside in our haus kuk and I like to take coffee and crackers out to them. Just the brief moments it takes me to pass out the mugs are always fun for me because I get to see the looks on their faces as they listen intently to whatever Tom is saying or as one of them shares with the others. Praise the Lord!
On Wednesday afternoons our partner Aimee and I meet with the ladies. This time with the ladies is meant for going over the lesson that was taught on the previous Sunday. We clarify main points, ask questions to make sure they are understanding the lessons clearly and have some open discussion time as well. Over two months ago our first Wednesday meeting started out with our only three believing ladies. Lately our little pow wow has been growing by almost one lady a week and we are now up to seven gals! Currently there are three believers and four who have yet to trust in Christ coming. We are hoping that it continues to grow and that each lady continues to faithfully come each week!
The Truth is Freeing
There are so many exciting and encouraging things about this direction and what is happening thus far in restarting from the beginning of the Scriptures. We are seeing little steps of growth in the believers lives and glimpses of understanding of truth taking hold in the hearts of the unbelievers. It is amazing to hear the ladies comments and their questions because it shows us exactly where they are at, what they are beginning to understand and also where they are still confused.
Here’s the thing: God’s Word exposes lies and, though deeply outwardly religious, the Tigak people have been deceived in many areas of their understanding of reality and of God’s Word. We are not even past the content of Genesis and the ladies, both believers and unbelievers, are already recognizing inconsistencies between what they have previously been told to be true and what the Bible says. It is incredibly encouraging to see the freedom they are gaining from understanding what God says about the origins of the human race. There is SO MUCH ahead but we are thrilled with the “beginning” of the “beginning” so far. 🙂
I feel like I cannot adequately express to you in this blog how huge of a deal this is! This group of Tigak people are being grounded in TRUTH. Those who are saved are being REgrounded 😀 God and His word is the only source of truth that mankind has. We cannot discover truth based on what we think or how we feel. We cannot find it through our best friends and what other people think. Our parents & grandparents do not hold all the answers to life and all the questions we face in this life. Movies, talk shows, news casts, magazines and books cannot give us truth because they all come from man. God is the only one who knows the absolute truth about everything and when we can come to know that truth and understand it, it will change our lives. It will change the Tigak people’s lives too.
“I am the way the truth and the life…”
“…the truth will set you free.” -Jesus
We are so excited that these Tigak friends of ours are beginning to know the truth, not because we told it to them but because they know that God said it first and He wrote it down in His word that they can read for themselves, and count on it! What God says will never change; it is true and it will stay the same always.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” -Isaiah 40:8
Please pray for this time of teaching. Pray that understanding will sink deeply into the hearts and minds of all who are attending. Pray that the power of God’s Word would blow their minds and make it so clear to them that can look clearly at all they have known up until now and see Satan’s deception and trust in the Truth. Pray that we would have wisdom in how we approach communicating what the Bible says. Pray that we would be disciplined as we continue studying the Tigak language and culture in the midst of this exciting time.
If you are reading this and you do not have a good understanding of the truth found in God’s Word, I would encourage you to start by checking out the resources found at these two websites listed below. God’s Word is important for your life, whether you realize it or not.
You can also contact us anytime for more info!