Suddenly it’s summer !!! and with it comes my switch from “Home Assignment” to serving on an “Itinerate Status.” This means I’m working full days at home on upgrading printable resources for the May River Iwam. There’s plenty to do. All our older Bible Lessons and literacy files need to be proofread and the spelling checked,bringing spelling into line with the decisions made when we finalized the Iwam New Testament for printing. The end goal is to have ALL our Iwam materials “print ready.” I’ll then send the corrected digital files to the Tribal Resource Center back in PNG so if the Iwam request a particular book be reprinted, the file should be ready to reproduce as is.

This first week has been a “trial run” for what the next 6 months will look like. As I’ve stated so often in the past, I don’t know how you REAL Americans do it! YOU can work 8 (or more) hour days and still attend your Bible studies and prayer meetings. YOU get your lawn mowed, grocery shopping done, trips to the post office, bank, recycling, haircuts, doctor and dental appointments. YOU keep your house cleaned, laundry done, and likely even find time for some good exercise sessions. YOU have proven it’s doable. My age addled brain is being challenged figuring out how to fit all those extras in along with my 8 hours a day sitting at the computer. Ironically the current continuing “social distancing” helps! YOU have it all figured out – and by God’s grace He’ll show me how to do it, too!

The first week it worked out well to do l-o-n-g days early in the week and then have time to take extended “lunch breaks” closer to week’s end to fit in the extras. I even got enough yard work done to be enduring my first case of genuine USA sprouted poison ivy! The first of “the computer ate my file” disasters has been endured to a successful conclusion and the first Iwam file (Genesis, Exodus 1-20 and other Old Testament portions) is NEARLY finished.

Though I would rather be doing this back in PNG, or even filling a support missionary position there, “Itinerate Status” is what God has for me for this era of life. I am thankful and privileged to get to tackle the tasks He has put in my hands. If you think of it, though, I’ll appreciate your prayers as sleepiness seems to be the greatest obstacle at this point to working well. Also getting enough exercise to deal with ongoing weight issues.

If you’d like to track the progress over the months to come, here’s what’s currently on the “to do” list:

  • There are about 100 Iwam Bible lesson and literacy files – some VERY short and others much more lengthy and complex with lots of long forgotten Iwam terms and words to decipher.
  • Compile a concordance for the Iwam New Testament.
  • Possibly a diglot or maybe even triglot pamphlet on Biblical key terminology for the Iwam.
  • A couple of Iwam incidents to work into stories in the trade language of PNG (Melanesian Pidgin) – for others to maybe translate into their tribal languages for library materials for their people.
  • The Iwam have asked me to send them copies of the photographs I took during my 20 years living among them. That was all before the digital era but with my longstanding love of photography it is a rather daunting request to tackle!
  • Apologies that there’s so much about me this round. Some are befuddled though about what I’m doing and I trust this will help clarify. If not, please feel free to ask! Also, I do need your prayers that this remaining May River Iwam work might be brought to conclusion to God’s honor and glory!

Meanwhile, back in PNG:

The missionaries in the Pei language group are getting very close to teaching the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Their tribe is a lot more isolated and smaller in number so the local Covid-19 restrictions didn’t slow down their teaching as much as in other areas where each lesson is still needing to be taught multiple times to reach everyone in the village. Fellow missionary Stephanie Smith shared this about the teaching in Pei:

Instead of using their teaching house, they took the walls off it and used it like a stage – this meant people could spread out around the area and maintain social distancing. A comical story shared with me by one of the ladies was around their telling of the Noah’s Ark story. She said their people love dramas and so they (the missionaries) were acting out the story, one guy had gone into their house with his family and the rest of the missionaries were banging on the door apologizing and demanding to be let in. They were making quite a ruckus – so much so that some people who were not at the teaching came running with their spears and knives, thinking they were being attacked! That’s one way to attract people to the teaching! While the missionaries have a good relationship with the village ‘witchdoctor’, they have come up against some difficulties too. Please …pray for the Pei team and the people they are teaching.

Amdu is now moving into teaching on the life of Moses. That of course will lead to God giving the Law and our utter inability to keep the Law. Missionary Bart Allen wrote:

From the account of Scripture, we see it played out plainly how again and again God communicated gracefully and clearly with people, but the majority walked away from Him time and time again, on purpose! And God is faithful to judge too! That is clearly represented, sometimes in smaller ways as with Cain and sometimes in massive ways as with the people of Noah’s day and with what happened in the cities where Lot lived … It is vital that our folks see themselves in these stories – that they too, apart from God’s intervention in their lives, are in danger. Pray for the ones faithfully coming to the teaching, that a grave concern would be building in their hearts. We believe that this kind of attitude is what precedes looking for the Answer! …God is also consistently faithful to provide the road for people to come to Him and be made right in His eyes. The Scriptures give faithful witness to the fact that God always provides a road. Pray that the Amdu people would be moved to be looking for the road that God has provided for them!

In the Kaje language group, teaching continues on New Testament church principles from the book of Acts. They recently taught on baptism – something all too often misunderstood. After the lesson over 100 people came to the missionaries wanting to be baptized. The Kaje too had had misconceptions about baptism so the missionaries are spending extended time with each person, making sure they have a clear understanding of Jesus death and resurrection and also on baptism.

It is a privilege to get to be involved in the different aspects of seeing God’s Word go out to people in places where you and I can never hope to minister. Your heart-felt care for these ongoing tribal works is less important in God’s eyes, as are the labors of those working on the front lines. Please do be upholding the ministries of mother-tongue evangelism and church planting around the globe as God brings them to your mind.

Thank you for your part in my life and ministry, too. You have made it possible for me to have been involved in different aspects of God’s Work for people in Papua New Guinea for the past many years. I only desire that I can now “finish well” all the work God has committed to my hands for His people among the May River Iwam. Your thoughts, prayers, and other evidences of support are appreciated more than words can say.

Co-laboring to bring back Christ as King!
Hope Sharp