Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Can Anything Good Come From Immi?

In the book of John, when Nathanael heard where Jesus was from he asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” The Lord laid a similar question on our hearts during our time in the village of Immi.

"Can anything good come from Immi?” That is the question the Lord laid on my (Adam’s) heart one Sunday afternoon during our time in the village. Nathanael had asked a similar question when he heard where Jesus was from. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” he asked. Surely the Messiah should come from a better place than that!

Immi is considered to be one of the worst villages in Enga Province, and the Engan people are one of the most feared and disliked people groups in all of Papua New Guinea. So there is not much of an expectation that anything good would ever come out of Immi. In Tok Pisin they would call it a ‘rubis ples’, which means ‘rubbish place’.

Yet the Lord gave me an opportunity to speak in the Immi Assembly of God Church on two occasions and share what He had laid on my heart to encourage them. I told the people that, just like Immi, Nazareth was considered a ‘rubbish place’, where nothing good ever happened. Yet just as God brought up the Savior of the world from Nazareth, God wants to bring up pastors and Christian leaders from Immi. I told the people that God wants to change Immi from a place where nothing good ever happens to a model village, where people live lives of love and forgiveness based on God’s Word.

On the occasions I had to preach in Immi and in Wabag town, we saw seven people respond to an invitation to give their lives to Christ, and I believe many more felt the tug of the Holy Spirit upon their hearts. And when the people have access to God’s Word in Enga, I know that God is going to continue to transform Immi, and all of Enga, into a place where good things happen!

A look at what we have been doing since our time in the village of Immi...

Language Learning
During our time in the village of Immi, we didn’t have any formal language learning sessions, yet we were learning all the time. In particular, a man named Sai came almost everyday to just sit and talk with us, and he almost always spoke to us in Enga. By the end of our five weeks, I (Adam) could understand most of what Sai said because he very patiently spoke slowly and clearly for me. Since returning to Ukarumpa, I have been able to build upon my informal learning from the village and make substantial progress toward understanding how Enga verbs are conjugated and how the syntax (or sentence structure) works.

Lae Regional Center Managers
Because we are new members of Wycliffe/SIL in Papua New Guinea, we were not able to vote at the biannual conference held in March. Instead, we managed the regional center in the coastal city of Lae for three weeks during the conference. As temporary managers we did not have a lot of duties, and so most of Adam’s time was spent on language learning. We enjoyed being in a bigger city where we could actually go to a sit-down restaurant and buy all sorts of western items at the grocery store! Yet on the trip back home, one of our greatest fears was realized when the Lae center pickup truck that we were driving back to Ukarumpa broke down in the middle of nowhere. We were stranded on the side of the road for three and a half hours before missionaries from the Ukarumpa Auto Shop came to rescue us. Praise God that a local man who sold diesel in a little roadside hut took care of us and even provided us some fresh coconuts so that we could stay hydrated in a very hot place!

Translators’ Training Course
We are now in the second week of the five-week long Translators’ Training Course (TTC). We have a team of nine Enga speakers participating in this training, where they are acquiring the basic tools and skills they need to translate the Bible. It is one of the largest groups ever to complete TTC. Adam is mentoring half of the group while Martha and Maniosa Yakasa (the lead Enga translator) are mentoring the other half. Please pray that the the trainees will be well-equipped to translate the Word of God into the Enga language.