Why in the World Are We Here?
Sometimes, we ask ourselves that question. I think I ask it more these past few years, as we’ve found our family scattered across the continents. What are we doing here?
Is it simply to get more people to agree with a creed, a set of beliefs that we hold fast? Yes, we do want that, but that’s not it, really. Is it to translate the sacred Scriptures into the language of a people that don’t yet have God’s Word in their heart language? That’s part of it too, but that’s not the final goal. Is it to establish churches that are indigenous and culturally relevant? Yes, but that’s not the end goal. What is the end of what we do? In a word: Worship.
John Piper puts it this way:
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.
Jesus said that the Father is looking for worshipers who worship in spirit and in truth. It is not enough to be sincere (we can be sincerely wrong) or to have passion in our worship. We must worship in the Truth of the Gospel through the power of the Spirit of God.
We would like to focus on a few areas where worship in spirit and in truth does not yet exist…yet. We heard a number of updates on several of our church planting works at a recent area conference. There are exciting days ahead in some of these works, and some painful days for others. Your prayers are vital in bringing worship to these places! Would you please take a minute to read the stories below and pray for these places, that light will pierce the darkness, souls will be saved, and worship of Jesus Christ will abound?! Thank you!
About to Burst: Iski
The Iski people have had NTM missionaries living among them since 2014. The Williamson, Tousch, and Callahan families have been hard at work learning the Iski language and culture in preparation for foundational Bible teaching and translation.
Earlier this year, they graduated their first literacy class. NTM missionaries teach literacy before our first Bible lessons so that the people can read translated portions of God’s Word as soon as they begin to understand the Gospel. You can read all about the excitement of the Iski people here. It was quite a graduation ceremony and was only marked by a sad ending that you can also read about. I warn you that clicking and reading on that second link (below the picture) is potentially life changing, as you will read about neighboring language groups that are asking the Iski missionaries when more missionaries will be sent to their people as well! (**Spoiler alert** Answer: Sadly, we don’t have any missionaries available to send you to teach you “God’s talk.”)
Anyhow, the excitement in Iski building! The Iski people normally live separately in hamlets by family clan. But sensing the importance of the message they are about to hear, they have come together and “built” a village for the purpose of teaching the missionaries their language, and hearing God’s Talk. They have repeatedly said, “We don’t want money, we don’t want things…we should be paying you since you are bringing us such an important message.” In a country where acceptance of the “white man’s” religion is sometimes a way to get the “white man’s” cargo…this is a welcomed sentiment!
Would you please pray for the Iski people? The teaching is scheduled to get underway early next year. We will keep you posted as things develop.
Tackling a Difficult Language: Wantakia
Some of the most challenging languages to learn in Papua New Guinea are here in the highlands. Three families moved into Wantakia people group early last year to tackle one of the most difficult languages of them all. Not only are these guys brave language learners, but they also put together some outstanding videos. If you check out their website (reachwantakia.com) you can see some of them. Their most recent entry talks about the importance of our language consultants, more experienced missionaries from other language groups who give tips and strategies to our newer missionaries still in that learning phase.
The Wantakia Team with language learning consultant David Ogg.
Please pray for this team as it may still be a couple of years before they are at a place to begin teaching the people, although they are currently ahead of schedule!
A Work in Crisis: BenaBena
Not every church plant goes as you hope. Most of our works have seen churches established among them, but a few just seem to struggle. One of those works is among the BenaBena people. This language group is right outside our front door here at Lapilo. Although there are believers among the Bena people, the church plant in the heart language by NTM missionaries has yet to bear much fruit, despite many years of ministry among them.
Recently, our last missionary couple to the Bena, David and Wendy Lee, made a plea for newer, younger co-workers to join them to help carry on the work. The Lees are near retirement age, and have had various health issues that have kept them back in Australia for many years. They are back again in PNG with the goal of passing the work on to a younger set of missionaries who can pick up this difficult language and finish the task. David’s plea at our recent conference was sincere, urgent, and passionate. Would you please pray that God would raise up just the right people to help finish this struggling work?
Your Prayers are Vital!
I am reminded often that the work we are in is part of a larger spiritual battle. The enemy longs to keep these people in fear and darkness. Please pray that our missionaries will be protected from unnecessary hardships, sickness, disunity on their teams, and anything else that will hinder the Truth from being proclaimed to the people of PNG!
We would also appreciate your prayers for our family. Our girls are currently on their annual Spiritual Emphasis Weekend at school. Please pray that God would draw them ever closer to himself and that they would walk with Him for a lifetime! Pray also for our boys as they all continue at Texas A&M, that they would be grounded daily in God’s Word and strengthened in their walks with Him.
As you can tell, we desperately need the prayers of God’s people to help us in this work. Thank you for your part in praying and supporting what God is doing in PNG! It is truly encouraging to see how He is at work, much more encouraging than your evening news is these days!
With joy in Christ,
Neil and Becky, and kids