Hi all....or "apinun" as they say here in melanesian pigin,
We are still alive and well...no sickness, no accidents, no more earthquakes (first day we were here, there was one that registered a 5.6). We did have a slight problem with a couple vehicles and the road that we have to travel to get to the highway. Can you say rainy season, dirt roads and ruts up to your thigh? You can read about it at www.ntm.org/news. The situation is now resolved after the Lord brought 2 days of uncommonly strong wind and sun.
From Amy: Language learning is going well. After several sessions with Lina and lots of afternoons sitting with ladies in the village I can mostly understand Ryan's random mutterings in pigin. We've finished our classes in phonetics and chronological Bible teaching. God is a big God who has been working to draw people to Himself and point people to Christ since Genesis, despite their consistent wandering from Him. I am thankful the Lord has shown Himself to me even when I think I've got it all figured out on my own.
We wrote a paper and had a class about the eternal destiny of the person that has not heard the good news of the gospel. AKA the people that live all over this country. They are heavily "missionized". There have been lots of denominations over the years that have set up churches here. However, the vast majority of them teach that you can earn an eternal life with God by doing the "right" things. They mix their tribal animistic beliefs with a list of do's and don'ts and call it salvation. They teach in Pigin or English. These are 2nd or even 3rd languages for people here.
Pigin only has 600 words with many of the words having 6 or more meanings. Even if these churches were teaching truth, these factors make it very difficult to communicate in a way that would lead to deep understanding. There are over 400 language groups in this country alone that have no access to the Truth. Yikes, there's some food for thought.
From Ryan: It has been so good to get to know some of the village guys here and to brush up on pigin. God has definitely been stirring my heart even more with the need here so many people with no chance of knowing our God and no chance of an eternity with Him. The fosters told us of a man that recently recieved Christ as His savior here, I got to meet him the next day. He was a pastor at the local baptist church for the past 15 years and he never understood the truth that you can't appease God by doing things. He thought that Christ died to allow us to make God happy with us. He showed us how to get rid of our bad blood (more on that later) and washed away his bad insides in the river by baptism.
So they believe it is by Christ dying on the cross showing us how to be saved, and us getting baptised that we get rid of the badness in us. We can then do a few other things and God is happy with us. So close to the truth but even farther than they were before because now they think they have the answer. God has been good for sure , please pray that he would soften hearts and prepare the way and for more laborers for the fields are white. These stories only press on me more the truth of Gods command to Go into all the world! His promise that He will build his church makes it worth all the sacrifice and effort on our part. He is faithful and keeps all of his promises.
Update on the Foster's, the missionaries in the local tribe the Bene Bena with 60k people in it and now there are around 35 believers! They just finished the 6 month long "creation to Christ" teaching: 25 people showed up on the last day. Only about 10 had been coming consistently. There are now 9 new believers that we will get to worship with in Heaven!!! One of them is another one of our language helpers. She had been attending church at a local place that had services in pigin and taught salvation by works. Keep in mind these are a fairly stoic individuals...Her reaction to the completed teaching was, "it is just so clear now..."Praise the Lord for her.
So what's next? Tomorrow we climb into a 6-seater plane and will go further up into the highlands. We're going to stay with a tribe for the weekend. There is a newer church there and 2 missionary families that are currently working on translating the New Testament. Wahoo! We are looking forward to the testimonies of the believers there and to encouraging the missionaries as well. Please pray we would be a blessing to them over this next week.
Please pray for God to reveal himself this next week to us and for safety
Fell fee to forward this to anyone you think would want to read it too!
Much love. Thanks for writing us and praying for us.
Ryan and Amy Carpenter