In case you are ever tempted to think that those stories about miraculous catches of fish are just made up fables, or they only happened in Bible times, read on. . .
We just received the following from one of our tribal missionaries (a former NCA student of ours, actually) whose family ministers among the Biem people. For those of you new to our e-mail list, the Biem people live on a small island off of the north coast of PNG and just heard the gospel for the first time last year. A number of them came to faith in Christ, although there are still many unbelievers in the village.
–The Biem Church completed their first exercise ever in the realm of finances and by God’s grace it was a tremendous success and encouragement to the body. I can’t even begin to tell you the minefield that this represents for the typical Biem person, let alone a group of people. Jealousy and greed plague every single event/action on Biem that deals with money. What a HUGE testimony it was for the church to exemplify humility and selflessness in front of their unsaved neighbors.
The believers wanted to raise some money to go to a Believer’s Conference (see below), so they decided that they’d do some fishing trips, smoke/dry the fish, and then sell it on the mainland. The list of things that could have gone wrong in this endeavor was a long one. From the get-go though, we stressed the fact that it wasn’t so much about the money as the exercise of it all; namely the example they maintained while dealing with money.
The first hurdle was catching the fish, and here’s where we just smiled and marveled at God’s goodness. For 2 days we sent a boat of believers out fishing to see what God would provide. Day 1: They shored with a sizeable catch of tuna and other fish. Two other boats with dead people (Biem’s term for “unbelievers”) shored very unhappily with nothing…man, that got the island talking! Day 2: The weather soured and folks were saying “Don’t go out today. The fish are not biting. It’s pointless.” But the believers decided to give it a go…6 hrs later they shored with another boat full off tuna that surpassed the first day’s haul. God’s kids were beaming and thrilled to see Him provide in this way…it felt like a “cast your net on the other side of the boat” incident. Truly amazing.
-The Biem Church sent 8 believers to the “local” believers conference. They boated, drove, and flew nearly 15 hrs to the interior of the mainland to meet with believers from other language groups that New Tribes has planted churches among. Most of the believers have had God’s Talk for many years now and we’re excited for our young Biem group to rub shoulders with them. Most of all though, it’s been great to see the excitement that has fallen over the Biem church as a whole as their perspective broadens in relation to the greater Body of Christ. They counted the days until the “delegation” returned so they could tell the church here about the other “children of God” on the mainland. When they did arrive, they storied long into the nights telling their fellow believers that all that they’d seen in the mainland churches. One steady comment from everyone was how encouraged they were to find out that their spiritual family, the ones who believe in Christ alone, was so much larger than they ever knew before.
We hope you are as encouraged to read Brandon’s account as we were. Just remember at this time when we may be worried about how we will make ends meet, God still provides!!
We pray you have a wonderful holiday season!
Love in Christ,
Neil and Becky Burleson, and kids