Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar December 2017 – January 2018. Thank you for praying with us for the people of Papua New Guinea.
Often when we pray, we do so expecting that God will answer quickly and in the way that we desire. Well, reality tells us that this scenario is not always the way things play out.
Leading up to and at the recent Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) workshop in Wewak, many prayers were offered for a variety of subjects. These prayers included getting the participants to and from the course safely and in a timely manner, good opportunities for the participants to learn the stories well, health and safety for those involved with the course as well as for family members who stayed behind in the villages, and a myriad of other things.
For one of the participants who was planning to attend the course, his wife and son were killed in a car accident just before the course began. We want people to be able to come and learn more of God’s Word, but this man was not able to come as he had many family issues that needed his attention.
For reasons we don’t fully know, transportation is a challenge for this particular group of language communities. At the beginning of this course, we didn’t even know if everyone would get to Wewak for the course. Through more prayer and a lot of communication with different drivers, trucks, and participants, they did arrive in Wewak, even though a few were a bit late.
As the time approached for the workshop to be completed, transportation again looked like it could be difficult. More prayers. Multiple attempts to contact drivers and trucks didn’t seem to give a solid workable plan. Things happen, but sometimes that can bring more stress.
Thursday morning arrived and there was one truck which could take half of the participants home. But, what about the other half? After a trip to town to contact drivers, there was still not a confirmed solution. It was getting getting later in the day. What to do? Prayers continued for a workable solution. One of the SPES team members walked out of the office to talk to those who remained about what the next plan should be, possibly to leave the next day. At that moment, a truck drove in and was ready to take the rest of the group home. God heard our cries! Thank you, Lord.
The participants did work diligently to learn several Christmas related stories that they are now able to take back and share in their villages. Some of these people seem to face some roadblocks when they take the Bible stories back to share. Please pray earnestly that God’s Word could break through the roadblocks and that these stories would have great impact in their communities.
Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar August – September 2017. Thanks for praying with us for the people of Papua New Guinea.
Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar June 2017 – July 2017. Thank you for praying with us for the people of Papua New Guinea.
Eleven Nuku area language groups continue to learn four Bible stories during this two week Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) course in Wewak. Yesterday they began learning the story of The Fall from Genesis 3. As they listened during the devotion time, they grappled with various parts of the story. Some of their personal beliefs that have been held for many years did not line up with the truth they were hearing from God’s Word. How do they move forward and reconcile those differences in their own lives?
Wednesday the same story was told to give them a chance to hear it again and process what was being shared. After the story is given, questions are asked so that the participants can interact with the story on a personal level. Wednesday’s questions focused on what the participants learned in the story and which character were they like in the story. As many honest responses were shared, it was evident that God’s Word was alive and giving people reason to think about their own lives.
“I am like Eve because I listen to others when they tell things that aren’t true and then I follow after those same things.”
“I am like the snake because I tell others things that aren’t true and cause them to do things that aren’t right.”
“I am like Adam. I go along and do the wrong things even though I know they are wrong. I don’t stand up for what is right.”
“I am like Eve because I covet so many things.”
“Now that I have come to this course and know what is true, I need to stand on that truth. When other people come and tell me things that aren’t true and try to pull me in the wrong direction, I don’t want to follow them.”
“I need to not deceive other people. I need to leave those ways behind, and do what is right.”
“I need to stand up and take responsibility in my family. If my wife is saying things that aren’t true, I need to confront her and try to help her see a different way. If not, it will cause problems for our whole family.”
It is encouraging to hear these responses. Keep praying that God’s Word will bring conviction and lasting change.
Some of the Nuku area language groups in the Sandaun province of Papua New Guinea have been waiting for years for someone to help get God’s Word into their heart language (tok ples). So it was with great excitement that we welcomed the arrival of participants from Beli, Pahi, Heyo, Mehek, Yahang, Wanap, Laeko Libuat, Siliput, Yangum Mun, Yangum Dey, and Minidien language groups on Monday.
Due to significant rains in the area, swollen rivers and muddy roads made the trip to Wewak a challenge for many of the participants. The PMV (public motor vehicle) carrying many of the participants got stuck Sunday night, but they were able to dig out of the mud Monday morning and make it to Wewak. Others waited for rivers to recede enough that they could cross (as seen in the picture) or walk to the other side. We are very thankful to report that by Monday evening forty-one participants were safely in Wewak ready to begin class Tuesday morning.
Fifteen trainers are leading this course, many of whom are learning new roles and responsibilities this time. A couple trainers are being prepared to launch a new OBS cluster later this year in Sandaun province. We also have six brand new trainers who just graduated from the Lumi OBS workshop in January and are working to learn the ropes of teaching and mentoring new language groups. We are so grateful for the capable and enthusiastic team God has brought together to lead this work in the Sepik.
As the participants work at learning the Bible stories, one of the tools used is a voice recorder. After they have internalized the story and can tell it both in the trade language as well as their heart language, they record it on a voice recorder. The story can then be played back for the group to check the story’s accuracy. Tuesday they learned how to use the recorders.
Participants have another two weeks to learn a total of four Bible stories from Genesis. These stories are foundational to understanding many other aspects of the Bible. They have been learning the story of Cain and Abel over the last two days and God’s Word is already convicting men of their sins. Pray that they can learn the stories well and that the truth of God’s Word will change the lives of those present even before they head home. We wait expectantly to see how God will work in the days ahead.
Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar Feb 17 – Mar 17. Thanks for praying with us!
The last two weeks were a flurry of activity as we finished the fifth and final Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) workshop for thirteen Lumi area language groups. With forty-eight participants and twelve trainers, the Wewak Regional Center was filled to capacity. Participants were eager to learn three new stories from the New Testament that they have now taken back to share in their villages. We know that God’s Word does not return empty, so we look forward with anticipation to how these stories will impact language communities in the future.
The groups also received some training that they could share with their communities regarding their tok ples (heart language). How strong is the language? Can all the children speak and understand it? What causes communities to move from one language to another? How can they hold on to both languages in the midst of pressures to change? They practiced some participatory activities that they can do in their areas so that everyone can see the vitality or lack of vitality in each language group. Before leaving, they were tasked with raising awareness as they share these activities in their communities.
Friday, 20 January, was the graduation ceremony. The trainers did a great job coordinating and leading this event and making it a meaningful experience. Those who spoke challenged the groups to continue to carry this work and be faithful, even when times get tough. It is a time to act and not just sit and watch others do the work or just think about possibly doing something.
They have now returned to their homes. Pray that they will have many opportunities to share what they have learned. Pray for wisdom for the communities as they discuss what the next steps might be and how those steps could be achieved. Several of the participants were picked to become trainers and continue helping to carry the work of OBS forward in the Sepik. The next group of languages will begin training in February.
The most recent Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) course finished for the Lumi cluster participants last week and the participants began the long journey home on Thursday. With forty participants from fifteen language groups, it was a busy time of learning six stories during the course. We purposefully picked stories to do a panorama picture from both the Old and New Testaments so that they can have a better picture of what God has done for us.
Four new stories were introduced this course. These were new not only for the participants, but the trainers had not taught these stories before either. Three of the stories focused on Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. As connections were made between the lambs sacrificed in the Old Testament and Jesus being our sacrificial Lamb, the lights began to come on as people understood more of what Christ did on our behalf. A video was shown to help them understand more of what Jesus endured when he took our punishment. As the men watched, you could hear them whisper, “Enough, enough!” as they saw how much he suffered for us.
Six stories are the most we have attempted during any one course which means the participants had to stay focused and work hard. One of the memory activities that seemed very effective this time was drama. Most of these stories translated had a significant amount of action in them, so they were more conducive to cementing the stories in their minds through drama.
As staff we are excited to see many of the participants growing in their abilities to tell Bible stories. After each course they are becoming more effective as they go back and share their stories in the village. During this course nine participants had the opportunity to “student teach” part of the class material. They were pared with seasoned trainers who coached them, gave them pointers, and helped out when they found it difficult.
At the end of each teaching day, all the trainers and whoever had taught during the day gathered together for a time of debrief to see what went well and what needed to be changed. Debrief is always a good time to connect as a team and figure out how to prepare for the days ahead. Some of these participants will have the opportunity to become trainers after the final course is completed in January 2017. Some of them seemed very natural standing in front of fifty people teaching. What a blessing that could be, to have incoming trainers with these gifts! Mentoring is one way that OBS works to train up new workers to continue to help carry this work into more parts of the Sepik and Papua New Guinea. We look forward to seeing how God will use these trainers in the future.
Pray for the participants and trainers as they go back and share these stories in their village. Christmas will soon be approaching and this may be the first time some of these groups hear the Christmas story in their own language. As they share the stories surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection, pray that God’s Word will impact lives and people will come to know Christ as Savior. Isaiah 55:10-11 promises us that “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty.” (NIV)
Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar Aug16-Sep16. Thanks for praying with us!