Remember last June when I returned to PNG with my “5 1⁄2 year plan?” I admitted at the time that my  schedule MIGHT have God laughing so I was at least pretending to be open to change. Well, guess what. Due to various reasons, change MIGHT be ahead.

With that possibility I of course embraced  “whatever God has” with open arms, right? — Un-uh. NO WAY !!!! Instead a cutsie Christian song began ringing through and monopolizing my thoughts:

  “Please don’t send me to Africa, I don’t think I’ve got what it takes.

  I’m just a man, I’m not a Tarzan. Don’t like lions, gorillas and snakes …..”

Please don’t send me to Africa – Scott Wesley Brown


Thankfully I’ve not been asked to go to Africa — just MAYBE (everything is still to be discussed and decided “sometime”)   MAYBE move to another region of PNG. Leave behind the 35 years of having a home, sweet home somewhere in our beloved sweltering Sepik and MAYBE move. No, not to lions, gorillas, or any more snakes than the Sepik – just, among a myriad of other considerations, a dishearteningly COLDer climate. (On the rare occasion it gets down to 76 degrees in the Sepik — we Sepikers fear we’ll die of the ccccCOLD !!!!! It’s been known to get down to the 50’s in the Highlands. :-/ It makes for a nice place to visit, but live there ??????)

The mere MAYBE of such a move set me to shaking in my bootless bare feet with my thoughts rattling around my in head like a freezing man’s chattering teeth! Nothing is even definite but my brain waves have been crashing all over the place! Yep. Here they are ricocheting all the way over to YOU!

  Listening to Handel’s Messiah on Christmas morning finally STARTED to get my heart in tune with the MAYBEs ahead. The   Messiah begins with Isaiah 40 – “’Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,’ saith the Lord.” In or out of context, that’s just what I  needed to hear. Since then everywhere I turn God is bombarding me with encouragement to simply trust Him, no matter what.

So starts 2015 –

With memories of singing thru the by-gone era of missions training days – and recalling God’s faithfulness since:

  •   “Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here. Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear ….” (Day by Day – Karolina Sandell-Berg – written 1865 after the death of her father by drowning
  •   “Submission to the will of Him who guides me still, Is surety of His love revealed. My soul shall rise above this world in which I move, I conquer only where I yield. Not where I wish to be, or where I wish to go, for who am I that I should choose my way? The Lord shall choose for me, tis better far I know, so let Him bid me go, or stay.” (Submission – C Austin Miles written about 1934)
  •  “Peace, perfect peace, the future all unknown? Jesus we know and He is on the throne.” (Peace, Perfect Peace – Edward H. Bickersteth – written in 1875 for a dying Christian friend)

With encouragement from His Word:

  • 2 Timothy 1:12 “…. for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”  (Keep = to guard or watch, have an eye upon; guard a person (or thing) that he may remain safe, lest he be despoiled, corrupted, etc.; to   protect; to keep from being snatched away; to preserve safe and unimpaired – His people, His work, even my wavering thoughts!
  • Isaiah 40: — “… every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight and the rough places plain …. .”
  • Isaiah 30:21 “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it,’ when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”
  • 1 Chronicles 28:20 “…. Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.”

Also I came across this timely tidbit while cleaning my cluttered desk. I have no idea where it came from:

Never allow yourself to complain about anything – not even the weather.
Never picture yourself in any other circumstance or someplace else.
Never compare your lot with another’s.
Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
Never dwell on tomorrow – remember that tomorrow is God’s. Not ours.

With all that encouragement, I’ve surely moved beyond my pettiness of clinging to the familiar known and loved local relationships and ministries, haven’t I? In all honesty – I’m maybe “getting there,” but I do need your prayers to that end!

Missionaries Jim & Kathy Boerckel (serving with Commission to Every Nation mission) have kindly given me permission to share this original drawing from their recent prayer letter.   Jim’s rendition of David in Saul’s oversized armor illustrating their thoughts regarding their ministry struck a rather different chord with me. It reminds me of — me — standing like an aged shrinking warrior whose armor no longer fits, not even sure where the next encounter will be, let alone how I’ll keep up the pace with any changes ahead. I’m feeling “too old” for drastic variance and adjustments! Starting over at this late date and age is —  daunting. A comment of Jim’s rings true: “Even the good transitions of life have unique challenges.”

To that God added, Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

I’ll appreciate your prayers for:

  • Laborers: long term missionaries for the many language groups in PNG still without the Gospel
  • For wisdom and discernment of our mission leaders as they seek the mind of the Lord and make decisions regarding the future strategy for God’s work here. There’s still much to be done! But where are the laborers?
  • My heart to remember – this isn’t about me, my feelings, my desires. It’s about Jesus and His work being done among His people on behalf of those here in PNG who yet need the opportunity to come to know and grow in Him.
  • What my part in the work will look like as we endeavor together to that end, and for the enthusiasm to accept with joy whatever God has for my future, be it “Go” or “Stay!”

To end on a positive note – and this from the May River Iwam! While talking on the radio with Pita, he mentioned a Christmas get-together they hosted along with another local church group. This other group is of a much more flamboyant nature and entertainment-oriented crowd, catering to the “feel good” emotions, but some 600 Iwam attended this gathering, and 50 were baptized! That is certainly grounds for rejoicing, as did the Apostle Paul, that Christ is being preached, regardless of the motives or methods employed. Please continue praying for the Iwam, especially those heartened by the recent conference, that the truth of God’s Word will take deep and lasting root in their lives and serve to draw them ever closer to our wonderful Savior and Lord!  Again, my sincere “Thank you” for standing together with me thru the certainties and uncertainties of following where God leads, working together that others might know Him, and grow in their love for Him.

Co-laboring together with you for the King!

Hope Sharp