This week marks the two year anniversary since the SPES team began doing Oral Bible Storytelling in the Sepik using our own Sepik trainers. We give praise to God as we look at what has happened over the last two years. The twelfth OBS is currently underway in Wewak. In that time, two clusters of five languages each have completed five OBS courses. The current workshop is the second for another thirteen languages. God’s stories are being taken to the remote and forgotten corners of the Sepik. With over a dozen trainers, we have been able to expand the work of OBS to more areas. Even as we have seen God working in many communities throughout the Sepik, we are also keenly aware of His working even in the current workshop. Over the last couple weeks, we have prayed a multitude of prayers related to the Lumi Oral Bible Storytelling workshop in Wewak. At times it is helpful to just pause and realize how God is answering those prayers.
We prayed for safety in getting the participants to Wewak. God answered by bringing fifty participants to this workshop from thirteen language groups. Most walked one to two days and then rode a public truck overnight arriving in Wewak in the morning. Big rains had drenched Lumi where the truck was picking up the participants. Thankfully there was a smaller 4-wheel drive vehicle that made three shuttles to transport the group fifteen kilometers (nine miles) to meet the big truck. No rain at the airstrips meant that all three airstrips were usable and not boggy.
We prayed for consultants who could check all the stories for the groups. In spite of asking more than a dozen people, it was very difficult to find three. In the end, there were finally three confirmed. However, after the workshop started, we found out one of the consultants was unable to come due to family obligations. What should we do? We prayed and talked with the Sepik regional director. She worked hard to locate someone who could come on the flight the following day. We are so thankful for Tommy’s willingness to come at the last minute. The next day, another consultant texted that he had malaria and would be unable to come. We came up with a plan that would allow the stories to still get checked. However, in the end, he was well enough to come and do some checking. This situation has challenged us to think outside the box and find ways to begin training consultants here in the Sepik. Without this, we might not be finding ways to build capacity in this area.
With a course this size, six cooks spend multiple hours preparing food twice a day. Store food is usually not too difficult to find (rice, tin fish, ramen noodles, crackers, salt, and basic things like that). However, getting enough market food (root crops, pumpkin, cooking bananas, and greens) for over sixty people is a tall task. Consider that many of those at the course live primarily on garden food so even rice is not normal fare. God has once again blessed us with a language community nearby, Forok, that has brought over 550 kilos (1230 pounds) of market food. We always find this to be a huge blessing and a win-win situation. They don’t have to go and sit at the market to sell their wares all day and we don’t have multiple trips to town carrying heavy bags of produce.
We look forward to seeing what else God has in store for this workshop. He has been faithful to hear our prayers and answer them.