Is He worth it?

This semester kicked off with a bang!  Brooks Buser, a missionary to Papua New Guinea who planted a church among the Yembi Yembi tribe, came and spoke to us for orientation. He spoke boldly about a lot of difficult subjects, but the key take away point was “Is God worth it?” Is God worth it during the darkest, hardest days of our lives? Is He worth leaving family, home country and all you find comfortable to make sure that those who are dying without ever hearing the gospel can hear for the first time? Is He worth our obedience to his word where he commands us to go and make disciples of all nations? These were just some of his challenges.

{If you want to see the complete story of Brooks Buser’s church planting experience, check out this video!}

Okay, now for the classes we’ve been taking:

Suffering Class

There is no better way to kick off a semester than with a class on suffering!  Though it was a rather abrupt start to the year we really enjoyed this particular course.  Our studies took us through the biblical rationale and concept of suffering, which we then applied to realities on the field.  We were greatly encouraged as we looked at the topic of suffering from a biblical point of view.  One of the most encouraging conclusions we arrived at is the idea that God allows suffering to help remind us that this world is not our permanent place of residence.  Although this is not the only reason God allows suffering, it is paramount that we live with eternity in mind.  Suffering in this life helps us to not get too caught up in the things of this world.

Another equally encouraging conclusion from this course is the idea that God flipped death and suffering on its head.  God took the very things that were the tools of the devil (death & suffering) and used them to defeat death and suffering!  Jesus defeated death by suffering, dying and rising again, and so too we find ourselves saved by dying to ourselves and living in Christ.  The only way to be separated from our sinful bodies and the suffering we endure is to die.  Suffering is also used by God to produce endurance and hope in the lives of believers.  So God actually uses death and suffering for His own righteous means.  Now that is encouraging!  Though we didn’t do any actual suffering in this class, we feel that we have a better concept of the necessity of suffering in our lives.  Hopefully this is preparing us to endure through hardships on the field.

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

 

Romans 12-15

In this course we discussed how fellow believers are to relate to one another, and how believers should relate with governing authorities.  These topics have a ton of relevance to mission work, because the number one reason missionaries leave the field is to due to co-worker relationships.  This particular section in Romans deals with how Christians should relate to one another, and resolve to not put stumbling blocks in front of another.  Relations with governing authorities is another area we need to have a biblical perspective on, because we will eventually be working in a country where the government is far more corrupt than anything we are used to.  How should we relate to the government?  Should we respect them?  What if they demand unethical taxes and bribes?  Is it ok to disobey the governing authorities? These are all questions the Bible has interesting answers to, and we need to know these answers and guiding principles if we are to relate properly with foreign governments (and with our own as well).

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Pre-Evangelism

This course deals with a large section of time in our church planting efforts.  Pre-evangelism begins when we enter a tribe and then covers all the time up to chronological Bible teaching.  Some of the activities during this period include, language learning, culture learning, worldview discovery, literacy classes, medical care, Bible curriculum development, house building, and much more.  In this course we discussed many of these things, and the attitude we should have while doing them.  We were challenged to always keep the end goal of a mature church in mind.  Even while building a house we can be intentional about church planting.  For example, we could build a house exclusively with westerners, not allowing the tribal people to help because they would just “slow things down.” But would this be a good witness to them? Wouldn’t it just serve to separate you from them even more? Instead, wouldn’t it be better to build your house with the tribal people’s help (and possibly a team from home that would be willing to work alongside them!).  Along the way you can introduce tools like a chainsaw.  You can take this tool that they have never seen before and teach them how to use it.  You may teach them and then watch them use it for a while.  Once you are comfortable with them using it and know that they won’t sever any limbs, you can walk away and let them use it without supervision.  Afterwards you can explain that what you did with the chainsaw is also what you want to do with God’s talk.  You want to bring them God’s talk and teach it to them.  And just like the chainsaw they won’t know exactly what to do with it at first.  But you are going to stay to help them learn how to properly understand God’s talk so that eventually they can take God’s talk to others.  This way, even through house building, the tribal people are starting to take ownership of the ministry.  This is just one way we were challenged to think intentionally about our actions during the pre-evangelism time.

 

Culture and Language Acquisition Practicum (Dobu)

This class has really been where the rubber meets the road for us.  Dobu is the name of a Papua New Guinean tribe that has a very different culture and worldview from our own.  The staff here have recreated a Dobu village and some of them are acting as Dobu villagers.  Throughout this course we have gone into this mock village to visit and talk with the “villagers” to learn about their incredibly different culture.  We are seeking to discover how their worldview works, and the bridges and barriers we would have to utilize if we were to present the gospel to these people.  The staff have done a wonderful job in recreating a realistic scenario for us, and we have had a challenging yet wonderful time practicing many of the skills we have learned up to this point.

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