Reflections on PNG
I recently spent time visiting our missionaries, Chris and Maggie Hostetter along with their four children, in Papua New Guinea. They are working with a remote Pal tribe located north of Goroka an hour by helicopter. (If you are like me, you have no idea where this is. I had no idea where this was either until I was there). They have spent the past three years living in tribe with three other couples learning the Pal language, translating it into a written language, and translating the Bible into that language. In the process they are teaching the Pal people how to read and write. It’s a daunting task to put it mildly. It takes a special couple to move from the US to this remote area of the world to live and learn with a previously unreached people group.
For hundreds, if not thousands, of years the Pal people practiced animism. Animism is the belief that there is no separation between the spiritual and physical world, and souls or spirits exist in humans, plants, animals, rocks, and geographic features such as mountains or rivers. The Pal people have passed on extensive rituals and sacrifices to try and appease the spirits and for the most part they live in constant fear of them. Then Chris and Maggie came and taught them about Jesus in their own native tongue. The people were more than open to hearing the gospel, they are hungry for it. Many of the Pal people have been praying for someone to set them free from their fear of all the spirits.
While we were with the tribe, we had the opportunity to observe the people learning their language and learning more about Jesus. There are so many people what want to learn how to read and write that Chris and Maggie had to divide them into two classes. The Pal people walk for over an hour each way on treacherous mountain paths every day to attend class and love it. Every Sunday they have church and explain the Gospel using pictures because their beliefs have been handed down from generation to generation orally. Showing the Gospel using pictures fits their culture and they get it. In fact, they crave it. Many have professed faith in Christ and the Pal people have now formed a New Testament church.
While conversing with Chris and Maggie, they shared that they have been encouraged by the Pal people’s responsiveness. They also shared that several other tribes have sent representatives to meet with them requesting they come to their tribe and teach them about God. I wish our communities were as hungry for God as the Pal people.
God called the Apostle Paul to share “the gospel,” which is the good news of Jesus Christ, with people who were far from God. Paul wrote the people living in Rome describing how to have a relationship with Christ. He told them they needed to believe in their hearts that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and confess their faith in him with their mouth. He also quotes scripture declaring: “11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:11-13). Paul makes it clear that all people are loved by God and need to hear the good news about Jesus so they don’t have to live in fear.
Then he goes on to complement those who try to reach the world with the Gospel. He writes: “14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15). I am grateful that Chris and Maggie have devoted themselves to reaching the Pal tribe. And I am grateful that the people of Freshwater give generously to reach people for Christ locally, regionally, and globally. Freshwater is a global church committed to making disciples around the world just like Jesus commanded us to do when he gave his Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
So. thank you Freshwater for caring about people all over the world. Thank you for your global concern. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Christ and sending others to be the same. As a church we support the Young’s who are training to serve with AIMAIR (African Inland Mission pilots). We also support a church and school in Haiti as well as the Great Commission Fund which is dispersed to Christian and Missionary Alliance missionaries serving all over the world. This brings glory to God.
My wife and I practice biblical tithing to the local church like the bible says and that is what enables Freshwater to have such a significant impact. Together, we make a difference. We also give above and beyond our tithe by giving what the bible calls “offerings” to others like Chris and Maggie. We want God to use us to further his kingdom. I want to encourage you to consider doing the same. If you want to learn more about what Chris and Maggie are doing, check out their website with New Tribes Missions. http://blogs.ntm.org/chris-hostetter/
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