This Christmas will be a very different one for us. Last Christmas was the first one we would’ve spent alone without either of our sweet daughters with us…but then one got married! As Madison and Jonathan celebrate their first wedding anniversary, we will be spending Christmas in the village with our Itutang brothers and sisters and Promise, our co-worker. We will be dropped off in the Pal tribe tomorrow and meet with the family there and then on Wed. us and our month supplies will be dropped in Itutang. We are so thankful to be headed back to yet another “home.”
This week we were excited to have two of the elders from Itutang come out to Madang to catch up with us and do some shopping for our Bible Teacher Conference this month. So thankful for these guys. So full of Scripture and so full of Christ. They are taking some hard knocks from neighboring communities and the unbelievers in our area and are still standing strong and speaking truth.
Bill asked Anton and Kletus yesterday a question after hearing that some of the ones who heard the good news early on and walked away are still clambering after a “quick fix” to their material needs problem. He asked them, “What do you think the difference is between you and them when you think about things of the ground. I know that you think about things of the ground as well and do business selling cocoa and other things. Why does it consume them and not you?” I loved their answer. Anton said simply,
“It’s because we have set our hope in heaven. We know our time on this ground is short. We can lose or gain things of the ground and it just doesn’t matter because this is not our real home. When you think like that about things of the ground, then they can’t consume you because you are thinking stronger about going to heaven one day than you are about those things.”
Beautiful. Anton spoke these beautiful words sitting beside us in bleach stained shorts that we have seen him wear for the last 4 years. He has one of Bill’s T-shirts from our first term in Itutang on that says “King of Kings” and his wife is at home, squatting in the dirt over hot fire and ash. And he speaks profound truth so matter of fact that it humbles the two white skins sitting in the room. Now, if we in the west could just learn a short lesson from this dear sweet wise Bible Teacher – a man who by appearance may not be allowed in some assemblies, but of whose spirit and wisdom the world is not worthy.
Later, on Saturday some boys from Itutang arrived in town. A really good group of bad boys whose parents are strong believers and praying their hearts out for their rascally hearts. They came and ate with us and Joshua and Amelia and the elders here on Centre and then Kletus invited them to the national church next door (Some of you have donated money to their permanent building. THANK YOU FOR THAT…some of the funds haven’t processed yet, but they will be writing you thank notes soon.) 🙂 Anyway, they left and we prayed. Prayed that they would come back and hear our pastor here in town say the same things from the same book that Bill and I and the elders and their parents all read and live by every day. God heard.
The next morning saw about 14 boys/men from our home church in Itutang walking down the road to attend Dabelle Baptist church here in Madang. The message by God’s amazing and sweet sovereignty this morning was an evangelistic message that hit the CORE of these boys. One of the older Madang believers as we were talking about it afterward said, “God is good and gracious that way. He knows what we each need.” Amen.
Afterward, Pastor Jefet, a Provincial Gov. worker, spent some time with our group of Itutang boys. He gave his testimony which involves growing up as a PK and being into every drug and drink available in the country and the turning after God struck him with a terrible sick that almost took his life. Then he asked them about some of the cargo cult “company” work going on in surrounding villages and helped them work through the false claims that are being made. They listened with quiet mouths. We all came back to the house, shared a meal, and listened as the elders talked to these young boys about truth, God’s Word, and the lies of culture. BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!!!! We love this job!
We will probably hike out about 11 hours to the road to be picked up some time after Christmas. We heard today that the cell tower was cut down that services our area, so not sure if we will be able to communicate again with you before Christmas, but please know this: We are THANKFUL this CHRISTmas season for CHRIST, for you and your eternal part of this ministry, and for the CHURCH that he is building all around the world. Come, Lord Jesus!
Please pray for wisdom as we seek to disciple and work with the church leadership while we are home. Pray that we will be an encouragement to all. Thank you for praying sending giving and encouraging us. So thankful and indebted to Christ for his goodness to us.