Wednesday, September 21, 2011

All things are ready

Lessons are prepared, the tarpaulin has been installed (to allow for more seating), notices have been hung, and grass has been cut. The Tulwei church is ready for her second gospel meeting.

I have prepared a series of lessons on baptism. Why baptism? Because it is the point at which a sinner is brought into Christ (Rom 6:3), forgiven (Acts 2:38), washed (Acts 22:16), and saved (1 Peter 3:21). Unfortunately, most (if not all) churches here teach something unbiblical with regard to baptism and its role in salvation. Sad indeed, especially because God's revelation is so very clear on this point.

What an awesome God we serve! He gave His Son to pay the price we owed but could not pay. Please be praying with us that some here would take advantage of that free gift by being immersed into Christ for the forgiveness of sins, initiating a relationship with the Father through His Son's body, the church.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Work day

Work Day

One of my goals for this, our first year in Malekula, is to establish genuine relationships with the locals (not only with the Christians, but with non-Christian neighbors as well).  This can be difficult as most people have an inherent fear or nervousness around us “white folk.”  I guess that because our skin color is different, they figure we must be different. 

That said, we have to look for opportunities to show them that we are indeed people just like they are.  Since there aren’t many social activities in the culture (very few clubs, hobbies, recreational activities, etc.), we’ve had to become creative in our efforts to become assimilated into the community.

Last week, there was a village work day, and I decided I’d pitch in and help as well.  Back in the 1980’s, an Australian aid group helped our village and the surrounding villages install water tanks and a piping system that allows every housing group to have one tap that is sourced by a natural spring “on top” near the middle of the island.  As you can imagine, those 6inch PVC pipes have become quite clogged with “junk” and pinched with roots over the past 20+ years.  So, it was decided that we should dig up all the pipes, clean them out, and reinstall them.

Of course all the digging is done by hand, and the pipes are buried 2-3 feet deep.  I would estimate there’s over a mile of pipe.  Quite systematically, we were divided into groups and given a particular section to dig/clean.  It was interesting that there didn’t really seem to be anyone in charge, everyone worked together and got the job done quite flawlessly.  I got lots of “what on earth are YOU doing here?” stares, but once they saw that I could indeed use a shovel (and wasn’t afraid to get dirty), they warmed up to the idea of working together.

Unfortunately, we still understand little to none of the local “Big Nambas” language, so we can’t participate in the friendly banter that accompanies such work.  But nonetheless, hopefully my physical presence and willingness to help out will assist us in further becoming assimilated into the community.  Plus, it felt good to do some manual labor out in the sunshine after so many days of studying and computer work.

That evening, I heard that my contribution was a main topic of conversation among those with whom I’d worked.  “We didn’t know that white men could do dirty work.”  Haha!  To God be the glory, and may these relationships turn into opportunities to teach the gospel...

PS - We’ll have to post photos later, as I forgot to upload them from the camera

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The extra mile

A few weeks ago, Alsen asked if he could come by the house that afternoon to visit. Come to find out, he'd been reading his Bible and had a few questions about things he'd read. This may seem small, but it means he's (1) been reading his Bible on his own, (2) making an effort to comprehend and apply what he's reading, and (3) willing to seek out answers to his questions. On top of that, I just enjoy visiting with him.

During the course of that discussion, Alsen asked if I'd be willing to study one-on-one with him twice a week. Keep in mind that this is in addition to our Sunday PM classes, Wednesday PM classes and Friday PM classes. Of course, I was excited to grant his request.

Interestingly, Alsen chose topics of study that I subconsiously try to avoid because I find them so difficult to communicate (especially in Bislama). On Mondays we are studying "how to preach" (focusing on lesson preparation) and on Saturdays we are studying leadership. It's good for me to teach on these topics, because I probably wouldn't choose them on my own, and of course they're very important topics to cover. I especially appreciate the fact that Alsen is willing to go the extra mile to take advantage of opportunities to equip himself for service in the kingdom.

I find myself looking forward to our meetings together each week, and am so thankful that Alsen is thinking about and preparing for the future. He's already a good preacher and leader, and I pray that he will continue to excel in these two areas for years to come. Please be praying for him and all the Christians in Tulwei Village.