As we approach the Christmas holidays, we reflect on the past year. It has been a busy year and we are thankful for so many things. While the year has been filled with its share of challenges, we can see God moving in a variety of ways.
God has brought new team members to help in the SPES project. A new couple joined in January and helped out in various workshops and developed curriculum for assessing the next steps of working with the language communities. Later in the year, Rocky and Wendy Dede moved back to Wewak to be more involved with the SPES project and staffing at various workshops.
Two clusters of languages that began Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) workshops in 2014 completed the last of five workshops in 2015. What a joy to hear testimonies of how lives have been changed and God is growing people to become more like him. Out of these two groups, God has also provided some new trainers to help in future Oral Bible Storytelling workshops. We are excited to see how God will grow these men into leaders, not only in this work, but also in their communities.
The newest cluster of languages from the Lumi area began their Oral Bible Storytelling workshops in September 2015. With over ten languages involved, this was the most challenging workshop logistically, but we also saw these men really grasp the teaching and methods early in their training. We look forward to hearing testimonies from them in January as they return for the next OBS workshop. This is the first Christmas that the majority of these languages will have any Scripture in their own language. May God continue to use His Word to penetrate hearts.
Three other courses were held this year to help pastors, lay people, and language groups continue to grow. Healing the Wounds of Trauma was held in May. People came and learned how to deal with trauma in their own lives as well as how to help others work through the same process. The first module of Training National Trainers was held in October for pastors. Designed to help them exegete Scripture well and apply it to life, this program is set up for them to learn and mentor others as well. A Culture Meets Scripture workshop was held in October to help people grapple with how their culture and actions line up, or maybe don’t line up, with Scripture. Always a very intense course, it was good to see people begin to take a hard look at things in their everyday lives.
New training was developed and implemented to help language groups assess how their language groups will move forward after OBS. We are thankful for the new people we have been able to work with in each of the languages communities in this step. Some of these communities are now wrestling with whether they allow their language to continue to shift to a language of wider communication or whether they put forth a lot of hard work to try and sustain their language.
We have seen God’s faithfulness in providing people at the needed times. He has provided the necessary resources to run workshops and make village trips. He has given the team good health. He has given us wonderful Papua New Guinean colleagues to work alongside. Thank you Lord for a good year!