The last two and a half weeks have been filled with meetings for the SPES team. The whole team has been at Ukarumpa, SIL’s main mission center in PNG, for language meetings, Sepik regional meetings, and now meetings for all the SIL missionaries in the country. It has been very beneficial as we have listened to things that are happening around the country, thought about shifts in the way we do things, and have begun to address possible ways to deal with those shifts.
The first week of language meetings brought lots of thought provoking questions as well as good discussion. In an organization that is all about Bible translation into a heart language, what are things we can be doing to help communities whose languages are dying? What role can and will the trade language, Tok Pisin, play in these communities? We heard about innovative approaches where SIL is partnering with the churches in a given area to meet the felt needs of those communities. Stories of communities taking ownership, both in getting training as well as providing resources to help fund the work, were shared. The SPES team also had opportunities to share the way God has been opening doors in the Sepik to work with many new language communities. We are also excited about some of the new ways technology is being used to get God’s Word into a predominantly oral culture that we could possibly use in the Sepik.
Sepik regional meetings gave opportunity for each of the translation teams working in the region to share what has been happening in the last two years. We were encouraged as we heard stories of teams who have had relatively slow progress over many years, have times of break-through in the last couple years. God is at work in the Sepik and we are excited to be part of it.
The final six days of meetings encompass all the missionaries in PNG. This has been a wonderful opportunity to hear about things that are happening around the country and ways that God is working in individual lives as well as whole communities. We have been challenged during daily devotional times. We are not just called to make disciples, but we must first be disciples ourselves. How are we showing Christ and His love to those around us? We have wrestled with some shifts in the way that missions is being done and what our response will be. Fifty years ago the majority of missionaries came from the West. Now that is not the case. However, God is raising up a new group of people right here in Papua New Guinea who are excited and want to be part of the solution to getting God’s Word to their own people. How will we go about partnering with these people?
Pray with us as we seek to follow God’s leading and partner with others to bring His talk to language communities in the Sepik.