Thursday, June 19, 2014

Calling For Back Up

We've watched the scene a thousand times. The one where the cop or the detective goes into a dangerous situation alone, and you are sitting there on the couch yelling, "Call for back up!"

It drives me (Martha) crazy to watch those scenes. It always ends with trouble. Why do they always think they can go in alone?

There is really only one answer.

Pure arrogance.

As missionaries, I think sometimes, without meaning to, we do the same thing. We refuse to call for back up…and we go in alone.

We have arrived in Enga for another five-week stay. I have been very apprehensive about this trip. Our last stay was just plain hard.

Two days before we left I pulled a muscle in my neck. It was better in the morning so I thought nothing of it. On the plane ride I began to feel the pain, but of course I kept ignoring it. The first week there was awful. I kept injuring my neck over and over and I was in a lot of pain. I thought about asking friends for prayer, but it seemed silly. It wasn't big enough to warrant a prayer request. I felt like an idiot. "Um, hi. My neck hurts. Can you pray about that?" Nope, not me. I searched on the internet for answers instead.

But it just…got…worse. And if you know me, you know that I didn't just have pain in my neck. You know that I pictured the pain never going away, never sleeping well again, never being able to pick up my son again. You know that I created a monster in my brain that told me I would suffer for the rest of my life because I turned my neck the wrong way!

Why is it so hard to ask for help? Why do we always think we have it covered?

After a week of misery I finally caved. I humbled myself and sent the email that asked for prayer. And you know what? I immediately felt better. No, the pain didn't go away right then. But I felt better. I had let it go.

All of a sudden it hit me. There is something about the asking. Yes, the actual prayer is powerful, but the asking is powerful too. When you ask for prayer, you are finally admitting, you cannot do it alone. When you ask, you begin to move out of God's way, and allow Him to work. There is just something about the asking.

Our last trip to Enga was hard for all sorts of reasons. All I kept thinking during those weeks was, we went in alone. We didn't call in for back up. We never asked for prayer coverage.

If this whole Bible translation thing is going to happen, we need prayer coverage, because the enemy wants us to quit.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
- Ephesians 6:12

Consider this our official call for back up. Here are our prayer requests.

1. Pray for protection over our family spiritually and physically. Pray for Jacob who struggles here more than the other two kids. He just said goodbye to his best friend who is going on furlough. Please pray that he would be obedient to his parents and kind to his brother and sister. Pray that all three children would thrive here, play creatively, and grow close as sibling. Pray that Adam and I would have special, quality time here with the kids.

2. The translation team is working on making corrections and refining the book of Mark before recording in August. They will then continue working on the book of Matthew. Pray for protection over the translation team and their families. Pray for unity and clarity as they work together to find the right words to translate accurately.

Names of the translators: Martin Harty, Frank Paiyak, Maniosa Yakasa, William Walewale, John Singi, Nete Talian, and Reuben Yonasa.

3. Pray for Adam. He bears the weight of this translation project. Pray that he has energy, and that he would not grow weary or discouraged. Pray that we will be given wisdom in how to lead the translation team.

4. Please pray that we will continue to develop good relationships with the people here and that the kids and I will learn more Enga during this stay.

5. Please pray that the corrupt bishop of one of the main denominations in Enga would be removed from power. Pray that the church would be unified in making this decision.

6. Pray that God would give us wisdom about where to build our house in Enga.

7. Pray for peace in Enga and an end to tribal fighting.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Seek First the Kingdom

I didn't know how to respond when I read the email. I was just sitting there in a state of shock. I didn't even want to tell Martha what it said. I just wanted her to read it for herself so that I could see her reaction. Her jaw literal dropped as she read these words…

Adam...My wife and I have been blessed by you and your family's ministry to the Enga people. God has put it into our heart to pay for your home [in Enga]…we are willing to give you up to $40,000 to build your home.

We couldn't believe what we were reading! The decision to build a house in Enga was one that we had really struggled with. I (Adam) had wanted to explore other options such as renting, but it quickly become clear that nobody was going to let us rent a house just during our stays in Enga and that the cost of paying rent year-round was too high to be worth it. We had already lived in three different houses in Enga, and we knew that constant movement like that would burn us out. We also came to realize that not having a place we could call our own would add a lot of undue stress and negatively impact our ability to stay committed to this work for the long haul. As we prayed about the situation, it really seemed like God was leading us to build a house of our own so that we could have a stable and affordable place to say whenever we were in Enga.

So we decided to build a house even though we had no idea where we would get the money to do so. But we felt like God was leading us, and so we stepped out in faith and began speaking with the construction department about developing some plans. I also included a brief paragraph about our plans in one of our recent newsletters. We weren't asking for any donations at that point, but just for prayers that God would lead us and guide us in the process of finding the right location and figuring out the steps we needed to take to build a home.

Soon thereafter I received an email from one of our supporters asking us questions about building the home. How much would it cost? Were there people who could help us build it? Would we be able to get the materials in Papua New Guinea? I responded to all of his questions and gave him a ballpark figure of what we anticipated a house would cost.

A couple of weeks later, we received the email that made Martha's jaw drop! We couldn't believe that two of our supporters were willing to pay for the entire house! I mean we believed that God would provide, but we never anticipated that He would provide so quickly and so generously! We could barely find the words to express our deep gratitude and appreciation for such a generous donation. But we praised God not only for his faithfulness and provision but for his confirmation that he was indeed leading and guiding us.

While we will keep the names of our two supporters anonymous, we do wish to thank them publicly for believing that God has called us to this work and trusting that we will faithfully do what God has called us to do. May God bless you both! We don't have the words to truly express our appreciation, but we do know that God is pleased by your own obedience to do what he has called you to do and that a great reward awaits you in heaven!

God's provision of funds to build a home are just further proof of the truth of Matthew 6:33, which has lead and guided us from the beginning of our journey to become Bible translators:

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

English Course
Martha recently taught a five-day English course designed to help Papua New Guineans get extra practic in English before the annual Translators' Training Course (TTC). Although most Papua New Guineans are taught in English when they attend school, their English is often quite rusty after long periods of nonuse. So Martha's job was to help them get used to speaking and hearing English again as they prepared to begin TTC. It was a great chance for Martha to be involved in helping Papua New Guineans in the work of translating the Bible into their own languages.

Martha's Health
Earlier this year, Martha had her annual heart check-up, and we are very pleased to tell you that the strength of her heart has improved! Shortly after her heart attack in January 2010, her ejection fraction (which measures how much blood your heart pumps each time it beats) was 35%, which signifies heart failure. Before departing for Papua New Guinea, her ejection fraction climbed to about 50%, which is still lower than normal but not in the heart failure range. Earlier this year, however, Martha's ejection fraction was measured at 60%, which is well within the normal range. So we praise God for strengthening Martha's heart! God is good!

Translation Progress
In May we completed the consultant check for the book of Mark. Three men from Enga came to Ukarumpa for this important part of the translation process. One man would read a couple verses of the text and then the other two would tell the consultant in Tok Pisin what they heard. It was a tedious process, but well worth the effort as we improved many minor shortcomings of the text. While the story came through loud and clear in Enga, it was interesting to see how much trouble the men had translating it back into Tok Pisin. Over and over again the men would tell me in Enga, "I know what this word means, but I don't know how to say it in Tok Pisin." It was just further proof of how important it is for people to hear God's Word in their own language, and how difficult it is to really grasp or communicate the Bible in a second language.

Thank You
We want to thank you for your continued prayers and support! We couldn't do what God has called us to do, without each one of you doing what God has called you to do. Your prayers are powerful. As we come closer and closer to releasing our first published Scripture portions in October, we do feel spiritually attacked, and so please pray for God to protect our family and give us His peace that surpasses all understanding.