January Already !!!!!!

Why is it– year’s end often brings on a compelling bout of the nostalgia, a desire to reminisce about life’s events for the past twelve months – the highs and lows, the joys, the sorrows, successes, failures, remembering too all those run-of-the-mill days whose hours crept along at a snail’s pace while the year took wings and flew gallantly to its finish. With God at the helm, such musings can make for a most refreshing response of thankfulness and gratitude!


And a sense of anticipation and positive direction for whatever’s ahead! So it seemed most fitting to close out 2015 and start 2016 working on lessons for the ladies Bible study group. We’ve already spent several weeks on Philippians 3 as the verses are so packed chock-a-block full of spiritual truths. I admit, I really do not want to move beyond the crescendo of “But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses.

God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, so that somehow I also may be raised to life. I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.” (Philippians 3:7-14 CEV)

I confess, too – do I really understand all that those words mean? Do I REALLY want to suffer and die as Christ did? Is even the concept of “I die daily” (to self, to love of this world) a consuming focus of my days? Am I the “strong Christian” that I should already be? Am I even perpetually yearning to be that person? Alas, no. I have not arrived. I am a far cry from being like my Savior. But like the apostle Paul, rather than being hung up on my failures, I want to press on ever reaching toward that goal of being like Jesus – an aspiration that will at last be reached on the day He calls me to be with Him! That too, is what we ladies in our Wednesday Bible study group are aiming toward together ….

And speaking of these gals – one of them in particular needs your prayers:

Dear, sweet, precious little Rosie. She may (or may not) be getting married this month! There’s a mutual interest going on between Rosie and Rex — a Christian fellow from the YembiYembitribe where NTM missionaries worked for many years. The church there has mature local leaders and is standing on its own. Rex is the son of one of the elders in the YembiYembi church. He is a believer — but Rosie is probably more mature in her faith than he is. We fervently pray and trust that Rex will continue to grow in his love for our Savior, too. Your prayers for them would be muchly appreciated!

Rosie is awaiting her father’s approval and if he gives it – Jan 14th just might be the day! This is no little matter – as marriage never is! Rex has been living here in Wewak but he has no job. IF, once they are married, he (or his family) decide they should live in his village, Rosie will no longer be able to reside here in town. Though born and raised in a village, she has lived a more urbane life these past several years and it would be a major transition (on top of marriage!) for her to live in a “rural” situation again – pounding sago, gardening, fishing day in and day out to produce their food, subsisting hand to mouth — or going hungry …..

Needless to say, Rosie is a precious friend, a “little sister” – though at times she seems more like “my kid.” Please be praying for wisdom for her father, and for her, as to whether or not this marriage is really God’s plan for her life. IF Rosie gets married the 14th I may be able to fly into YembiYembi for the occasion! A “typical” PNG village wedding ceremony would appear more like a tug of war — with the wife-to-be caught in the middle. Her brothers hang on to her, determinedly pulling her back toward them while the groom’s clan line tries to drag her toward their side. As the groom’s family leisurely hand over the “bride price” (in small denomination bills) to the bride’s family, they gradually let her go. She becomes a purchased possession of the groom’s family line. At least that is how it’s long been done in Iwam land!

The YembiYembi probably have similar traditions. BUT – the YY believers there want to do this wedding differently. They desire that it be a “Christian” wedding – the first ever in their locale. Obviously this will be no American styled observance so it will be interesting to see them set the pace as to what they want the service to include. Rosie’s father MIGHT be allowed to escort her to the church and hand her over to the groom. Or maybe her brothers. Or not. There most likely won’t be a white dress and veil. Or flowers. Maybe, just maybe, a ring. For sure — No KISS! (Horrors! That would be MOST inappropriate here!) No receiving line. No cake. No rice thrown frivolously away – though a meal of rice might occur. And presents? Not likely! Actually to give Rosie anything at this point would probably mean it would be turned over to her
parents. Or maybe even the groom’s family line!

Rosie’s possible wedding is only one of “too-many-to-count” items on this month’s agenda. Your prayers will be greatly appreciated that I will stay focused on God’s enablement for all the known and unknown tasks ahead. AND that I won’t let anything fall thru the cracks!

My enduring thanks to you for your prayers and other evidences of support. This ministry is as much yours as mine as we seek to faithfully pursue each opportunity God entrusts to us. Your part is most gratefully appreciated!

Co-laboring together with you for the King!

Hope Sharp