Sunday, May 1, 2016

She Stole My Heart

In English when a man says ‘She stole my heart’, it means that he fell completely in love with a woman. In Enga the meaning is much more literal and horrifying.

Last month I shared about how fear of the spiritual world drives the traditional Enga worldview. In the past, rituals were performed to keep evil spiritual forces at bay. And while most of those rituals have now been abandoned, the underlying fear of the spiritual world is very much alive, and this fear is manifesting itself in new and horrifying ways.

Recently a Engan man named Max (not my friend Max) accused four women of using witchcraft to invisibly steal his heart and cut it into pieces. Max says that as he lay dead, his relatives ‘dealt with the women’ by tying them up, beating them, and then burning them. Max further claims that as a result of his relatives’ actions, the women returned his heart to him and he came back to life. (Click here to read the story for yourself and see video of Max making his claims.)

This is not an isolated incident in Enga but a rising trend. Engans believe that everything in life has a spiritual cause, and so when a man like Max is sick, he either looks for sin in his own life as the cause or he looks outwardly to see who might be practicing witchcraft to influence the spiritual world to cause him harm.

These beliefs are widespread, even among some who call themselves Christians. Many people in Enga don’t realize that ‘if God is for us then who can be against us?’. Nor do they realize that ‘neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’. They need God’s Word in their own language.

An Engan man named Max accusing a woman of stealing his heart
Busy Busy Busy
Before we came home on furlough, we had heard that we shouldn’t expect our time in America to be restful, and we have discovered that to be the case. In fact we chuckle to ourselves when asked how our ‘time off’ is going, because we feel busier than ever. Between homeschooling the kids, completing endless paperwork for visas and work permits, getting in three years worth of doctor visits, trying to buy clothes and other necessities for the next three years, visiting friends and family, preaching at a different church every Sunday, and trying to get in a little translation work, we are looking forward to enjoying a few boring weekends when we get back to Papua New Guinea. Nevertheless, despite the busyness, it has been so wonderful to reconnect with friends and family. We wouldn’t trade it for the world! So many of you have gone out of your way to make time to see us and to make the kids feel special, and we appreciate it more than you know!

Spending time with Martha's family at Easter
Halfway There!
In April the Enga translation team began drafting Acts 11, which marks the halfway point of the New Testament. In the past it was common for a New Testament translation to take thirty years. But by God’s grace and the efforts of many who have gone before us, He has enabled us to draft half of the New Testament in just under two and a half years. Now there are many other steps that need to be completed after drafting, but it is worth celebrating this important milestone. May God speed the second half of the New Testament!

When Do You Return to PNG?
The good news is that the time and effort we have invested in applying for renewed visas and work permits has paid off as we now have all the documents we need to return to Papua New Guinea. We have purchased our plane tickets and will be departing from Los Angeles on July 10. Please pray for us as we make our final preparations and say our final goodbyes. Saying goodbye is one of the hardest things we have to do, and so we would really appreciate your prayers.

Thank You Covina Assembly
In April we shared at our home church of Covina Assembly. We were so blessed by the outpouring of love and support of our church family. Thank you, church, for making us feel so loved and for standing with us to help us translate the Bible into Enga. We love you all!