As we wrote back in August (has it been that long?) we are heading back to Texas in a couple of weeks for a six month home assignment. We are grateful for God’s provision already to us for some physical needs. We are thankful to Grace Bible Church in College Station for the provision of a house to live in during this time. Just by God’s grace, the house is just a couple of streets over from where our 3 sons are already living as they attend Texas A&M. We look forward to spending some special time with them in the coming months.
The Lord has also provided us a car. Others have given finances to assist with our plane tickets. We are so grateful to you all, our prayer and support team, for standing with us!
This has been a whirlwind of a few weeks with a lot going on in our lives, including a tragic loss here in our community. We wanted to take just a minute to share a few things that you could pray for with us.
Gone Too Soon
This past week our community was struck with tragedy as Bizo Sogavo, a former student of mine, and now husband and father of four here in our community (see picture above), died suddenly during a friendly soccer game against our high school boys’ team.
Bizo was in one of the first classes I taught when we came to the field in 1996. Following his graduation from our school, he spent a number of years in the USA, met and married his wife Melissa, and during these past years had been a businessman in the local community. He was also a gentle and kind Christian man. Melissa was also Katie’s art teacher this year at NCA.
Please pray for this dear family as they mourn this tragic loss of their husband and father. Bizo was also the son of the local landowner and has many grieving relatives here in the community. Pray for them as well, and also for our NCA students many of whom witnessed this tragedy firsthand and are dealing with the emotional trauma. Pray especially that his death will be a testimony of the Eternal Hope we have in Christ to those who do not know him in this community.
Pray for the Young Iski Church
As you may remember from past letters, the Iski people heard the Gospel for the first time just a few months ago. This past week Neil had the privilege of dropping in to Iski to visit the Williamson family. (You may remember that Kadynn, their oldest daughter has been living with our family this semester as she attends the school.)
This is a critical time for the young Iski church, and we would appreciate your prayers for them and for the Williamsons. The two missionary families that work with them are away at the moment (one for medical needs, and one on home assignment). A couple of weeks ago a young man died of an illness in the village. The traditional way of thinking among the people is that in a situation like this someone must have worked sorcery to cause this young man’s death. Now, the unbelieving relatives of the young man are pressuring the community and many of the new believers. They have stated that the ground on which the church now meets (and the missionaries live) is cursed and that these people need to disperse into the jungle. These are deeply held beliefs among the people and even the believers are struggling to know what to do when faced with this societal pressure.
Neil, along with a couple other from our mission leadership flew in last Wednesday to spend a short but sweet time with the Williamsons and with some of the Iski believers. We sat and prayed with them and assured them that people around the world were also praying for them. In many ways, both our quick visit as well as the realization that they are not alone in their small corner of the jungle was a tremendous encouragement to this young church. Would you please join us in praying for this church as they face this difficult time, that they would be able to take the truths they have learned and know how to live those things out in their cultural context, in the face of persecution?
See You Soon!
There is much more we could share in our letter of the events of these past few months. We look forward though to sharing much of this in person instead of via prayer letter. We pray that in the coming days we will be able to reconnect with many of you back in the USA. We would love to share more about what God is doing in Papua New Guinea with your church, Sunday school, home group, or Bible study. Let us know if you are interested!
Thank you once again for your continued prayers and support for us here in PNG!
Happy 2018 … and Thank You from all of us!
We’re so grateful to the Lord to have had the family reunited during the Christmas season. God has been so good to us this past 2017, and we rest in his faithfulness as we trek into this New Year. Thank you all for your persistent prayers, faithful giving, and profound encouragement in so many ways.
A Happy New Year from all of us and may the Lord bless and keep you and yours in 2018!
Gratefully in Jesus,
Neil, Becky, Ben, Andrew, Michael, Katie, and Cara Burleson
In His Grip,
Neil and Becky, Katie and Cara