Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Coming up next...

We’re headed back to Malekula in just under a week, and I am really looking forward to being back there.  We sent a load of “stuff” (benches, tools, milk, rice, crackers, water containers, etc.) on the ship today, which means our departure is indeed imminent.  This is a rundown of all that we have planned for our next term in the village.  Lord willing...

The brethren have continually expressed their desire to receive more teaching from the Bible.  Looking back, I realize just how little in-depth teaching they’ve received over the past several months, ever since building/completing our house became our main priority.  That was a necessary distraction, but now that we are finished I look forward to teaching a lot more - it’s my favorite part of being a missionary.  It’s heartening to know that the brethren weren’t comfortable/complacent with the slowdown in teaching, and that they continue to be eager to learn. It was decided during our last visit that I would begin teaching each Sunday and Wednesday evening.  I will be teaching Bible Study Principles (context, commands, examples, necessary inferences, culture, keywords, expedients, etc.) on Sundays and Common Denominational Errors (the philosophy of denominationalism, Sabbath-keeping, unauthorized female leadership, instrumental music, organization issues, etc.) on Wednesdays.  We’ll be firing up the generator each night, which tends to attract several visitors.

We will continue conducting our Bible Club with the kids on Sunday mornings after worship, but will also be adding a Youth Bible Study on Fridays during lunch.  School is only in session a half day on Fridays, so this will be a good opportunity to get to know and study with these 9-16 year olds.  We expect to have 8-10 youth over to our house for lunch, followed by a period of Bible study (basic facts and principles) and Q&A.  Most of these teens will also be taking part in our regular studies as well, and so we hope that they will begin to build a strong biblical foundation in their lives.

As part of our evangelism focus for 2011, the congregation plans to host a “Gud Nius Miting” (good news meeting) June 9-12, in an effort to invite locals from three villages to consider the simplicity, uniqueness and importance of the Lord’s church.  In conjunction with the meeting, we have a group of teens coming from one of our supporting congregations (Perkins, OK).  They will be assisting the brethren with a concrete slab during the day, and will be assisting with the meeting in various ways in the evening.  We are really excited about this opportunity, as it will be the first group of its kind in Malekula.  We anticipate their visit to be a very productive one.

Though the date is still to be determined, we are planning a return to Rano Village (Northeast Malekula) sometime in May to preach publicly for a week, as requested during our initial visit back in early March.

Last, but certainly not least on our agenda, is a visit from “Mema and Papa.”  They will be spending a week with us in Malekula, and then three more in Vila.  It will be a joy to share “our new life” with them.  And of course the locals are very excited about the opportunity to meet “tufala olfala blong Shawnda.”

All said, I have 25 lessons to present, so April has been a busy month!  The opportunity to disciple and evangelize (Matthew 28:19-20) in Malekula is exciting.  Join us in praying that May and June will be great months for the Lord’s work there.  To Him be the glory!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hallelujah for baby steps

I know we’ve been “off the grid” for a few weeks blog-wise, and we appreciate your patience.  With this entry, we should be back on track for once-a-week posts.

I received two phone calls from Malekula yesterday, independent of one another, both of which were very encouraging to a missionary’s heart.

The first was from Alsen.  We had a few unimportant things to talk about, and then he gave me the pleasant surprise of letting me know that he had decided to continue the Sunday kids’ Bible club, which we had started during our first term in the village (I had been leading it while we were there).  Alsen said that he wanted to continue it while we were gone, so that the children wouldn’t forget the songs and facts they’d learned so far. He said that he had continued teaching these young children the books of the Bible, having now completed the Old Testament (we were through Song of Solomon when I left).  I was so excited!  Before we returned to Vila, I had gone back and forth in mind on whether or not I should ask one of the locals to take the lead in this effort while I was absent.  Instead I decided I would just stay silent and see what happened.  I figured the best case scenario was that someone would try to maintain what I had taught, but Alsen went beyond that and taught them new information.

The second was from Jean Claude.  He actually called to discuss the ship schedule, as we are trying to send several things ahead of us for our upcoming time in Malekula.  We then talked about how things were going with the local church.  He said that during the previous night’s prayer meeting Williamson had requested prayers for the Bible study he had recently set up with his uncle and aunt.  His uncle is an elder in the Presbyterian Church, but had shown interest in the Lord’s church, and so they started visiting.  They then established that they would meet together every Sunday afternoon to talk about and study the Bible.  While I am quite certain that 100% of the Christians in Tulwei Village have talked about their newfound faith to at least a few individuals, this is the first “official” Bible study any of them have set up or conducted.  The fact that a denominational leader is interested is also very exciting (some of you may recall when I was called before the “Presbyterian Session” in December 2009 for baptizing Alsen - same group).

To some, these two instances may seem like baby steps.  If they are, I say “Hallelujah for baby steps!”  We are excited about this and other news that we hear on a regular basis from these brethren, and look forward to being back in Malekula May 3.  While these brethren probably expect me to “take over” these projects when we return, I have every intention of instead becoming their assistant in these efforts.  Please be praying that the work will continue to progress, and that God will be glorified in all that we do.