Prayers needed for Papua New Guinea!

While Covid is seeming to maybe perhaps be coming under control here in the USA, it’s only just taking root in Papua New Guinea. Strict limitation on people coming into the country kept the case numbers manageably low – until now. Public news outlets say the past month saw the number of cases on the steep incline – at least 4600 new cases with 39 deaths. That may still seem a reasonable case load — until you factor in only about 500 doctors and maybe 5000 nurses for the country’s of 9 million people. The populace is largely made up of subsistence farmers whose families tend to be malnourished. Many deal with often untreated chronic illnesses – tuberculosis, parasites, chronic anemia from malaria, and other such maladies. Most live in “rural” areas where the medical clinic at best (hopefully) has supplies to treat basic malaria, mild bacterial infections, small injuries and uncomplicated childbirths. Some doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are available but myths abound that make the people leery of getting it. Even if available, administering any such medicines to the outlying villages where no roads exist presents its own unique challenges. Won’t you please be praying for the country of Papua New Guinea thru these difficult days?

For some happier tribal updates: The Amdu missionaries, Bart and Emily Allen, shared about their recent translation check. I’ll leave much of their comments intact as it gives you a good overview of how a translation check is done for each verse converted into the local mother tongue. Bart wrote,

… only one Amdu man was able to help with the check. As our consultant Jason and I sat with him, I read portions of God’s Word that I had translated (into Amdu), and the helper, using the trade language, (Melanesian Pidgin English) would tell Jason what he heard. It is a painstaking process, but it is necessary, to check both the accuracy and the naturalness of the translation. We had about 450 verses in Mark, Acts and Romans (first two chapters) to check so I was praying that my helper would be able to stick at it for 3 days without becoming overly weary. … (as) we started into the Mark portions I noticed that my helper didn’t seem as sharp as I remembered him being in how careful he listened and gave back what he heard. Nevertheless we moved pretty well through the chapters in Mark with minimal problems. … The helper was much slower giving back the portions of Acts we were working through, but these things helped to highlight weaknesses in how I translated it. It also drew attention to (spiritual) terms that aren’t working as well as they should and shows our team things we need to talk through a little more. So all these things are actually good and help to sharpen our communication of God’s matchless Word! But it did make me worried for the two chapters of Romans that I had prepared to check. … We flew through it! It absolutely ‘sang’ beautifully to our helper. I was blown away and SO full of praise. We had put a lot of work into developing the translation of these two chapters, and I can’t tell you how fulfilling it was to see how clearly it was understood! Praise the Lord with us over all we’ve learned through this check and how it will help us in the rest of the chapters of Romans.

Regarding a couple more tribal updates that I have – the missionaries have cautioned about sharing their specific details in any mass media form as even in their outlying areas, people have access to the internet. Should they see something posted about their specific church they can all too easily misconstrue the post and trouble can ensue. The bits I’ll share below are thus not given with the name of the particular tribes involved. Your prayers are coveted all the same as the young believers grow and mature in their new found faith in Jesus. Some reports from round about PNG before the latest Covid upswing:

– Tribe # 1: The newly established church in one tribal area is growing spiritually as they meet 3 times a week in small groups. They have been studying the development of the early church from the Book of Acts and are teaching on prayer, singing, baptism, church leadership and communion. Through this teaching foundations are being laid for their church too to begin practicing these methods as they grow together in their love and knowledge of the local church as the body of Christ. Meanwhile lessons are also being written for teaching Romans and translation continues on Ephesians and Galatians.

– Tribe # 2: Two missionaries recently made a trip back to visit in the church they had helped to establish. Though the church has been standing on its own under local leadership for several years now, follow up visits by the missionaries are always a help to their ongoing growth. Problems such as conflict, pride and lack of repentance and forgiveness hinder the individual believer’s spiritual growth as well as the church as a whole. As you can imagine the missionaries spent their time listening and talking, teaching, praying and seeing the Holy Spirit work! Here’s a clip of one believer’s testimony resulting from that visit:

I tried to manage my sin instead of confessing and leaving the fallout in God’s hands. I didn’t trust Him with that and as a result I sinned all the more! I’m sorry. I hurt the church and I hurt His name. Now to you elders, I put myself under your thinking…I want to hear and follow the advice and direction you have for me.

As the missionary also shared, you can imagine the sweetness of hearing such repentance and testimonies made from within a culture prone to hiding, ignoring, or running away from mistakes. The missionaries also asked for prayer for the young church “…that they’d be unified in love, that they’d love holiness, and that they’d spur each other on to further growth. Pray especially for the 5 elders and the wisdom and discipline they need in the work God has given them.”

– That last sentence is a sweet reminder for us to pray for ALL the local church leaders as they see the Holy Spirit enabling them to carry on the work of His church in their respective tribal communities!

At home in SEMO: Life continues as the pace seems to pick up to warp speed for this jungle Jill.

Work continues on the May River Iwam materials. I would like to have everything completed by early June as a missionary family returning to PNG then can take a thumb drive with all my Iwam materials back for me. The BIG challenge to finishing the Iwam concordance will be translating the suggested preface to the volume from English to Iwam. I’m not sure the bits I remember of Iwam will be up to the task!

I’ve done some online investigating of local employment should that become a necessity. The job I was most interested in (at the local library!) requires the applicant to be able to lift / carry 50 pounds. It also requires knowledge of “collaborative productivity apps” stuff ???? so that one could help patrons in that regard. Alas. That’s not me. Dittos to other jobs I’ve looked into. Surprisingly, of the “work from home” options, an amazing number are for truck drivers! ???? Alas, also not me! If God wants me punching a time clock again I know He will lead me to whatever it is He wants me to do.

Later this month I plan to talk with our mission department who advise senior missionaries regarding my options as by late summer retirement from Ethnos 360 will of necessity become the reality. ☹ So wonderful to know God goes before me each step of the way! ☺

Thank you again for standing together with me in prayer and so many other evidences of support these many years. It is a privilege to be your representative to God’s people in Papua New Guinea. The reunion ahead, when you will meet the fruit of your labours of love for our Saviour, will be sweet!

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