Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Lord's Purpose Will Prevail

As we made preparations to come to Papua New Guinea, we had many plans about the kind of language we would work with, but it is the Lord's purpose that will prevail!

Proverbs 19:21 says, "You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail" (NLT). As we were preparing to come to Papua New Guinea, my (Adam's) plan was to work somewhere where no prior linguistics or translation work had been done. I was going to be a pioneer—the very first outsider to learn how to speak the language and translate the Bible! Certainly God would bless such a plan!

As our departure date drew closer, however, I felt a check in my spirit about my plan. God wasn't impressed by my lofty goals and ideals, and He began to show me the foundation of pride that they were built upon. God didn't care whether or not I was a pioneer—He just wanted me to trust Him and submit myself to follow wherever He might lead.

So just over one year ago I prayed, "Lord, I give up all of my own desires and plans for how this should work, and I commit to allow you to simply use me as you best see fit." God then began to lay the Enga people on my heart, and Martha and I have been praying about working with the Enga people ever since that time. Others have worked in the Enga language before, but they are still without an adequate translation of the Word of God. As the largest vernacular language in Papua New Guinea with over 300,000 speakers, Enga has one of the greatest Bible translation needs in all of Papua New Guinea!

This month I am making an initial, exploratory trip to Enga Province, and we hope to make a decision about accepting a long-term assignment to work with the Enga people soon thereafter. Please pray with us about this incredible opportunity to give the Word of God to so many people in their own language.

Where is Enga Province?
Enga is the highest and second-most rugged province of Papua New Guinea. The provincial capital of Wabag is located at 6,004 feet and has a population of 4,072 (the least populous provincial capital in the country). Europeans first visited the area that is now Wabag in 1938, and prior to the 1930s, the people in Enga Province had no knowledge of other people groups outside of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Wabag is connected to the rest of the Highlands by the Highlands Highway, and one can drive from Ukarumpa, where we live now, to Wabag (although it takes about nine hours to do so). Wabag is about two hours away by car from Mt. Hagen, which is the fourth largest city in Papua New Guinea and home to the country’s best hospital. It is also possible to take a short flight from Ukarumpa to a town near Wabag if travel conditions are less than favorable.

Can you speak Enga?
Although we have learned to speak Tok Pisin (one of the official languages of Papua New Guinea) fairly well, we have very little knowledge about the Enga language. However, during the month of July we began learning Enga from a man named Reuben who came to Ukarumpa from Wabag to teach us. We are using a method of language learning called the Growing Participator Approach. The first phase of this approach involves a lot of listening and very little speaking (much like how infants learn language). What we end up doing is a lot of pointing and physical response to commands our language guide gives us. It is a highly effective technique to engage in language quickly without memorization. You can see a sample from the third day of our sessions at

What are the translation needs?
Although prior translation work has been done in the Enga language, the Enga people are still without a translation of the New Testament that speaks to their hearts. The priority for Enga is to publish a translation of the New Testament in the Central Dialect using a style that sounds natural and lets the Word of God speak powerfully to the Enga people. An audio recording of this translation would also be done to make the Word of God accessible to the many people in Enga who are not able to read well.

If you would like to hear more about our opportunity to work with the Enga people, including a quick 'hello' from everyone in the family, please watch our video update that was shown at Covina Assembly of God on July 15.