Dear Praying Friends,
We are back in the land of the semi-connected and are so thankful for every one of you who dutifully remembers us in prayer. We can feel them at work in our lives as we live and work here in PNG.
Inapang Bible Conference Update
Thank you especially for praying for this very sweet time spent in the Word – IN THE INAPANG SCRIPTURE!!! – with the Bible Teachers and elders and deacons of the 8 Inapang churches and the Tangguat church. Some of these amazing men we had only heard their names and so it was very good to see their faces and hear their stories in person. For three days, the ladies cooked meals, the elders taught, the leaders gave a report from each of their churches, they broke into prayer groups and prayed for each of the churches and other needs, they sang and held extra night devotional meetings and best of all…they bonded. It was so good to see them together laughing and praying and thanking God for bringing the GOOD NEWS to Itutang and then out to the rest of the villages. There has been a bigger and bigger separation between “community” and “church” and the Conference came at a time when the Itutang believers, in particular, were feeling weary & beaten down by things going on in their lives and the work of the church. The conference teaching encouraged everyone so much they couldn’t stop saying thank you for putting this together. They each received the printed portions of translated New Testament that are finished and checked and we told them that it was because of YOUR WORK AND SACRIFICIAL GIVING that we are able to print these 600 books and get them into the hands of the Inapang believers. Even one of the Tangguat teachers took one and was so encouraged to see so much of God’s Word in the Inapang language that he got more excited about helping Promise and wants to get his language printed as soon as possible!
Other December Tribal Happenings & Quotes from the Church:
We arrived in Itutang via helicopter and hiked back out (another update on that little adventure). It was nice to be back in our little one-room open bush house and sharing a backyard with our neighbors and church leaders, Anton, Kletus, and Igi. We loved being out in the village in the evenings, eating from house to house and hearing all the village news, and having those early morning chats with people walking to the river to check their fishing nets. It may be a forgotten little dirty swamp, but it’s where our family called “home” and where our hearts forever are.
- We attended one of my favorite activities – the children’s Christmas quizzing. I am always amazed at how many facts, figures, stories, and names these little guys know. I am also always amazed at the church elders who come up with hundreds of challenging questions off the top of their heads as they throw out candy to those who answer correctly. LOVED THIS CHRISTmas ACTIVITY.
- Christmas was a day like every other. The church was filled with hot humid bodies and air and we swatted flies and heard many many thanks go up to Jesus for his work, for sending His Word, for the translation project, and for the conference and the encouragement that they had received. It was a precious Christmas service for us.
- We were able to spend time with Promise who has been flying solo in the tribe for over a year now. It was fun to watch her interact with the church leadership and with the women and see the discipling that is going on in a casual and purposeful manner.
- We attended a court for a break-in into the Lanier’s house. The man from Tangguat is pleasantly loony and breaks into many homes, so it was difficult to come to a decision, but after many hours, the poor crazy man’s family settled the “heavy” with the Laniers via the three of us on the ground in an appropriate customary way.
- Bill was able to teach the elders through the book of 1 Peter, which they will now teach to the church over the next several months. We are amazed at the intelligence of some of these men. Bill was able to talk them through more discourse features to look for as they find the main point and exegete Scripture, like “for” and “therefore.” One of the elders came to our house later that night and said, “Bill, I know that you’ve taught us things like this before, but this time I’m ‘holding its thinking’ and I am very happy about studying this way in 1 Peter and looking for these “joiners” (connecting words) now.”
- Kelley was able to do another Parenting Class with the elders’ and deacons’ wives. It was such a good time of laughing and talking through the trials of daily life when you have little ones all around. Again, one of the deacon’s wives who we don’t see as often said, “Friend, this isn’t the first time you have taught us these things, we have heard them straight from your mouth so many times, but we feel like we are at a place in the road now where we can start to walk in them a little stronger than before. Pray that we will do our work and train our children.”
- Right before we left there was kind of a last minute shared meal that our elders put together and they kept reiterating how thankful they are for God’s Word and that we left people and our culture and things behind in America to bring it to them. They expressed thanks to everyone who works there in America every day so that we can have food and travel and print and serve this language group. Then they said that they had gotten into a hole – feeling like they were worn down and weren’t feeling strong enough to fight the battle anymore, but through the conference and seeing other believers who they normally don’t see and hearing their stories and realizing that they are in similar situations, they were standing up in God’s power and were ready to do more hard things for the sake of the church.
- We have been praying for many months now for the Identity of this maturing church. That they would be able to see themselves as believers – together in the “spirit clan” of Christ and we have seen this begin among them through these hard times. One man told us after a long discussion about this, “It’s true what you have told us. We work in ground clans because we live here on the ground and that is how it must be, but we can never forget that our spirits have a clan as well. We will be only a short time with our ground clan, but forever with our spirit clan. We need to pray for each other when we are falsely accused by those on the outside.”
- Another prayer we have had for many years is that the people will learn to seek ways to better their living conditions, while still carrying an attitude of contentment in the circumstances where the Lord has given them to live. We have been happy to see three copper houses go up with guttering and water tanks so that their children will have fresh clean water. Others are saving up as well. But, we were also so encouraged by one of our dear friends who Bill went to visit out in the sak sak swamps while his family was harvesting. He told Bill, “Yes, this is hard work. But, we know about Adam and why we have this work now. I know that just because I heard God’s talk, this ground work won’t finish. I will continue to have to work hard until I get to heaven.” Sak sak is hard work and before our team presented the gospel, the Cargo Cult teachers were saying that once they heard the gospel, they would never have hard work of harvesting sak sak again. So, with that dream never coming to light, those who are more concerned about the cares of the world walk away and those who have set their minds on heaven grow stronger in their hopes and desire to be with Christ and enter into his REST. So sweet! We have a video interview of Nimankar and will post his thoughts when we get our internet and blog site running in the same direction.
- Overall, it was super encouraging visit all the way around. We love these dear brothers and sisters so much. They are friends who we have laughed with and cried with. We have watched children and parents and brothers and sisters die together. We have feasted and famined together. They are our heroes of the faith. The unspoken ones who faithfully labor and continue to spread the gospel where they are today.
Thank you for your faithfulness and may 2017 be Blessed in your Home! Please continue to pray for the churches of INAPANG!
By God’s Grace & For His Glory ~ The Housleys