Friday, February 16, 2018

Moving Through Milestones

It's been kind of sad to slowly pack things up from our humble home in the jungle of the last 14 years! A few days ago, we took advantage of our supply flight, and started sending out some of our belongings in preparation for moving out to town. We're going to need to do this with each supply flight over the coming months so as to minimize the cost of moving. Imagine trying to move your belongings using a helicopter and sometimes a small plane! We're hoping for the actual move to happen right after the first week of July.

If you've been following our updates, you've seen that Mibu Ministry has reached a major, strategic ministry milestone that was planned from day one! We're at that point in time where the church and it's leaders are mature enough that our continued full-time presence in the tribe can actually be harmful for their continued growth. So we as a team, and along with our consultants, have determined it's time for us to no longer live full-time in the tribe, and to move out to town, where we can continue to serve the church off-site. That doesn't mean our job is done in Mibu. Far from it! We'll continue to serve the church full-time, but from a different setting. But it's sad to start the process of moving. The reality is that this has become our home!

Moving out to town will allow us to focus more fully on some of the bigger jobs that are still left like translation and lesson development without so many of the interruptions of day to day life in the tribe. We're working on a system to maintain regular communication with church leaders. And we plan on making short term visits in Mibu several times a year to work with and train leaders, support the church in any way we can, and of course work together with our indispensable translation helpers! We've been working hard all of last year, and will continue this year, putting some final touches on the training of the church and its leaders. We're hoping to be able to appoint elders sometime soon here, prior to moving out! Yet another huge milestone in ministry! This is exciting! Imagine, going from having had no access to the gospel to where they're at now; a maturing church and the impending appointment of the first shepherd-elders!

Meanwhile we continue to plug along in the many areas of work we're involved in, translation (currently working through Revelation... whew, a tough one!), and developing lessons for 2 Thessalonians together with some of the leaders, discipling potential elders, and weekly training sessions with the church after they meet on Sundays. Everybody is gearing up for what will hopefully culminate in the appointment of the first elders in Mibu!

We would really appreciate your prayers for all of the work that is going on in Mibu and for our upcoming move, and for the resources needed to start living out in town. Thank you all for your involvement in this ministry through your prayers and finances and words of encouragement! We're so grateful for you!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Happy New Year from the Husa's in Mibu! We're reflecting on all God has done and continues to do here in the Mibu tribe. Toward the beginning of the year he saw us safely back to Mibu after a year long home assignment. Since coming back we shifted more of our efforts to the development of leaders in the church, spending 6 months meeting weekly with about sixteen leaders in various stages of growth to challenge them about godly and biblical leadership, as well as biblical wisdom regarding the care of the church. We also have been teaching 5 teachers how to properly study the bible in preparation for teaching. And then of course we have continued to make progress, though slower than usual, in the translation project and the development and teaching of expository lessons for each book! Then of course the church in Mibu has been busy as well, continuing with literacy development efforts, the care of God's people, and even starting another exciting outreach in the village of Joso, the very last remaining village in the Mibu language!

Not content just looking back, we're also looking ahead, asking what our next steps ought to be for the health and longevity of the church. We're seeing see more and more clearly that we just may be at another incredible milestone in the Mibu Ministry; that point in time where it is best for the church to continue their Christward trajectory with less full-time presence of us expats. It's one thing we've been working toward all along here in Mibu! What might that look like? Well, we're talking about maybe moving out of Mibu, to a location in town where we can focus more specifically on translation and lesson development, and from where we can make short visits into Mibu to assess with the leaders how the church is faring, and encourage them in their roles. Right now we're talking about the possibility of this move happening in July or August. We hope such a move would accomplish several things; 1) give the church even more space to make decisions and grow on their own, and 2) give the local leaders a chance to step up in new ways, and 3) give us a chance to focus more wholly on the task of translation and a few more lesson sets that need to be developed.

2018 also looks to be coming with an increase in cost of living here. The financially strapped government is increasing taxation significantly on most imported goods, and also services offered in country. We're not sure what kind of increase to expect, but it's clear that we'll need to keep a close eye on our budget and be flexible with what our expectations are with the resources we have each month, especially if we do end up moving to town later in the year. That most certainly comes with unexpected costs and new, hard to anticipate expenses.

One thing for is for sure, as we reflect back, and also look ahead... We're grateful for God's ongoing provision for us! Though we don't know what the future holds, be it good or bad, easy going, or more challenging, we do know for sure that God is who he is and that he is a sustaining, loving Father God to whom we can trust all aspects of our lives. You are a part of that as you pray and give sacrificially for the benefit of his kingdom here in Mibu and beyond! Thank you to all our faithful prayer people and financial supporters!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas all the way from the misty cloudforest of Mibu! As we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus this year, we think back on how much more he has accomplished in the Mibu people's lives in 2017, and are so humbled that he has made us a part of that work. We're also grateful for the many of you who partner with us through prayer and your generous financial gifts! Merry Christmas to all of you!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Progress in Mibu + Giving Tuesday

Greetings from Papua New Guinea. We're excited to share some more news with you from Mibu! But first we want to thank everyone who makes ministry here in the remote Mibu tribe possible through your regular monthly donations and prayers! We couldn't do this without your support! With that said here are a few points we wanted to update you on.

Giving Tuesday
Today (Nov 27) is "Giving Tuesday". It's a great way to kick off the start of the Christmas season, by giving your time, effort, or finances to meet an area of need somewhere in the world! As you consider making a gift this year, don't forget the importance of church planting ministries such as Mibu Ministry where the gospel is being taken to places that previously had no access to God's word. We're seeing God do amazing things in Mibu and beyond as they maturing Mibu believers continue to spread the good news! We're also training many local leaders who are growing in their ministry responsibilities and vision. If you'd like to make a tax deductible donation toward ministry expenses as we continue to live and serve in Mibu you can follow this link

Follow up on Tariknan
You might remember that we wrote in our email update recently about specific struggles in the church in Tariknan; the very first outreach the Mibu church did back in 2006. If you missed it, please read the following to catch up As a matter of updating you, we have been really pleased to see how the church, both in Tariknan and in Mibu, responded! They were able to stand their ground, and refused to participate in the activities of the former legalistic 'church' system that is trying so hard to keep them under it's deceit. At the end, when the final call was made for the ultimate cave-in and participation, not a single person came for the so-called 'pastor' to do his stuff to them. Seeing nobody was interested in his wares, he became angry, threw his religious paraphernalia into the nearby shrubs, and yelled at everyone on his way out! ...Hey, don't let the door hit you on the way out! After years of submitting to their silliness the Tariknan church seems to have finally cut free of the cords that entangled them from the extremely syncretistic, and highly legalistic religious system that had ensnared them for so many generations! From here on out, I think we're finally going to see some growth and maturity there among the believers rather than always being held down and kept stagnant. When you compromise with the world the world holds you back. They stood their ground this time! I think some renewed prayer efforts regarding their maturity are in order folks!

Goings on in Mibu
Please also continue to pray for the leaders in Mibu. I've been working with them a lot since we arrived in March, trying to continually challenge them as leaders toward preparation for elder roles. We've been seeing lots of growth, but also see the need for them to mature in the things they're learning. The biggest lessons with the most impact on their leadership mindset is the idea that in order to lead you must humble yourself and serve. This is the polar opposite of what the world around them says. The world around them emphasizes success and prestige, the indebtedness of those under you, and your own greatness. Jesus says to wash each others' feet, and that the first will be last and the last will be first. I frequently hear these leaders talking about how these concepts challenge their own thinking! Good! We're seeing more and more the results of realizing these truths as their own. I think it's time to take this material and start teaching it to the wider church congregation; both so they know what to expect biblically of their elders, but also for the elders in training to review and be given the opportunity to write some of these things out in small lessons so they, in turn, can teach others up after them when we're gone.
Our 'mantra' since getting back to Mibu has been 'we are leaving soon!' I make it a part of many many conversations, public talks, and teaching and discipleship times. This needs to be looming big in their minds as they're being asked to take some of these final steps toward proper shepherding of God's people in our absence. In some recent discussions with consultants we said that we'd guess it may be time to move out of Mibu within 1-2 years. That won't mean we're done in Mibu, but that the time for our full-time presence will come to an end, and that we'd continue to serve and train itinerantly. It also means we ought to be able to focus more full-time on some of the bigger tasks at hand… mainly translation… just working on it from out in town. So you can be praying for us to discern properly when that time is for us to move out. We feel it's important to have elders in place first. I have a list of 5 guys who I think are nearly there. They're 5 out of the group of 12-16 that I've been training who have a longer history of service to the church where they're faith in service has been tested and proven more than the others. They're also pretty solid theologically, though admittedly not so much when it comes to eschatology; Not YET at least! But I'm working on that!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

'Planim Pos' Training Comes to Mibu

Late last week, three teachers made the long journey from the highlands, down to Madang, across the sea, and up the mountain here to Mibu. Their purpose; they'd been asked to come put on a weeklong course called Planim Pos. Planim Pos is a teacher training course, specifically focused on teaching the gospel using Pidgin English. Pidgin English is the national trade language here in Papua New Guinea and is indispensible when communicating across language boundaries. While the work and ministry we do here in Mibu is all in the Mibu language, called 'Ma', it's become clear that having some skill and confidence in communicating the gospel in Pidgin English would open up some opportunities for them as they interact with their neighbors.

For example, there are a couple families from the coast who recently relocated up to one of the Mibu villages. Their purpose for moving up here was to be where the good news about Jesus is being taught so that they too might hear it. That's a problem when all the teaching is in the local vernacular, which they don't speak. We're hoping this course will prepare teachers to communicate the gospel as effectively as possible with those families.

When we started talking about the possibility of this course, we thought maybe we'd try a handful of students, maybe 15 or so, and see how it goes. The level of interest far exceeded this though! The number of people who registered for the course had to be whittled down to 45 just to keep in manageable! In addition, another 40-60 people audited the course! Which means they sat in on the teaching but just didn't get the included books, and weren't part of the practical exercises. The little building we met in was packed full, with people sitting around the outside, listening through the windows! I was blown away by the interest! People from 8 different villages and 3 different langauges were there. The village of Mibu was a bustling hive of workers, arranged ahead of time to host people and prepare food and take care of the needs of everyone there for the course.

As I sat through many of the sessions taught by these three PNG citizens I appreciated more and more the effectiveness and benefit of their teaching. Practically speaking they had such great material to exhort and encourage both new and experienced teachers in Mibu! Their years of Christian maturity brought many invaluable insights! They communicated it so perfectly and powerfully too! Many things were reiterations of themes we've taught here over the years. Yet there was an incalculable value added by hearing these things not from expats, but from other PNG citizens. These three teachers from the highlands related through their encouragement and exhortations in a way that us expats just won't ever be able to do! Watching and seeing the benefit of the interaction between the church in Mibu and the three visiting teachers affirmed in my mind the absolute essentialness of our strategy to be more and more inclusive of networking and interaction with other national leaders and church groups. This will be a key element in the longevity and health of the church as the role of the expat continues to shift to more hands-off, background kind of tasks and the church here in Mibu stands more firmly on their own feet.

Thank you so very much to everyone who prays for us and for the church here, and who provide the monthly finances for us to minister here, being a part of making things like this happen!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Town and Back

Greetings from Mibu! We just arrived back here after nearly 5 weeks out in town. We usually only go out twice a year, but when we do it's usually crammed with various activities, meetings, supply runs, and a 2 week break. This update has been in the works since we got back 5 days ago, but busyness and illness have prevented me from finishing it till now.

We had a wonderful time at our regional conference in Goroka this year. Conference is one of the very few times we get to see many of our fellow co-workers, some of whom we don't see for years at a time. This year had some encouraging speakers from our home state of Arizona. We're so thankful for churches that bring teams like that to help put on conference and to be an encouragement to us!

After conference we moved to a different guesthouse, more accessible to the medical clinic where we needed to get some basic checkups, vaccinations, and that sort of thing… just gotta make sure everyone's healthy! We also did some additional school testing with a couple of our kids to help us better educate them.

We then headed down to Madang where we took a planned, and very much needed family break for 2 weeks. While we managed to keep ourselves busy, it was the relaxing kind of busy, going out to eat a few times, catching up with friends and meeting new ones, the kids playing with their friends and in their little 12'  blow up pool we keep in storage out there, swimming in the ocean, and sailing our little outrigger sailing canoe, Shan Skailyn. The kids are just old enough now that Shannon and I were able to get away by ourselves for a couple hours at a time! Think sailing dates and shopping dates! Don't let the word 'shopping' fool you though. Where you might imagine going to malls and the typical limitless fare so common in America, here it is second hand clothes, going to every hardware store in town only to come up shorthanded on the simple items you thought you'd find, and a limited variety of foods. Not to complain either though. When you live in the bush where there are NO stores whatsoever, coming out to town and just being able to roam around and maybe, just maybe, find a few things you're looking for, and a few things you're not, is a real treat!

And then finally we headed back up to the highlands where we wrapped up with a few meetings, visits, logistics and supply buying in preparation for going back into Mibu.

One bit of news we're really excited to share is that, if you remember a number of months back we put it out there that we'd love to have a young lady come out to help with homeschooling, and just be available for the kids. We thought it would be really good and healthy to have a relatable friend who can be a positive influence and a godly role model for a while; someone who's NOT family. Well right after we put that out there, Simona responded from Germany! We went to school with her parents in North Cotes, England, and last knew her and her family when she was very young, about 4 or 5! Well the discussions and preparations continued on, she received some short term training with New Tribes Mission, her visa was approved, and she finally arrived just a few days before we were scheduled to head back into Mibu! The kids have really hit it off with her and we're so thankful that she's finally here! You can be praying for her adjustment to a very different life here in Mibu, and that we can get a schedule that includes her helping with homeschool worked out in the next couple weeks. Simona is an MK (missionary kid) who was raised in Senegal. We're looking forward to our kids being able to relate with her and vice-versa over the next 6 months while she's here in Mibu! (photo pending!)

Oh, one more thing… the belongings we shipped from the states, including some wheelbarrows for the airstrip project, which continues to carry on here, some solar equipment (because solar systems prove to be a continual money pit :) school supplies, clothes, and more all finally arrived… roughly a year after we sent it! So the last couple days have been a crazy mad dash trying to get it all unpacked, assembled, installed, put away, organized, and whatever other words might apply to a small house filled with boxes! Add to that a still continuing battle with a stomach illness and you can understand why writing about our return has taken a while!

There's lots of ministry specific updates here too, so expect another email in the coming week or so!

Thanks so much for all of you who pray and give to help us minister here in Mibu. We treasure and appreciate each of you and your desire to be a part of the ministry here!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Not A Place For Compromise

Pictured: The valley in which Tariknan is located (middle).

Tariknan was the first village the Mibu church took the gospel to after hearing it themselves. And there are a good number of believers there as a result. The Mibu church has taken the gospel to several other villages as well, even some in a closely related neighboring language. And the resulting believers in many of these outreaches continue to fare well. Yet from the get go one of the things that has plagued the small church in Tariknan is that there are many who struggle with their identity as God's people, Christ's bride, as separate from the rest of the world around them. While they're putting their trust in what Jesus did on the cross to save them from their sin, they've failed over the years to identify themselves clearly as a different group from those around them who do still adhere to the old way of thinking. They know that old way is faulty for sure. But they've been hesitant to stand up against it when it comes around to claim them as its participants. While the believers still live with them and work together with the others in daily life, they've always been hesitant to clearly indicate that that old way of thinking and the religious activities that surround it, are no longer what they identify with. They continue to succumb to pressure to participate in those religious activities and the group that maintains them. They compromise with those who still hold the former way of things. The result of this compromise, and of not making a clear point of distinction is that for years now, every time the church starts to stand up, shake off the dust of this world, and start to sink their roots into the life-giving truth of God's word, the unbelievers around them are able to threaten and influence their decisions so that they remain a mixed group. And when the biblical teaching threatens to shine more brightly, causing more people to step out of that old way of thinking, its stronger adherents tell the believers that they can't continue to teach, or use the community space to gather… and the worst part of it is that the believers are cowed into working out some kind of deal with them before they're 'permitted' to continue being fed by God's word! Despite the consistent advice of the church leaders here in Mibu, (and from us missionaries) and despite lots of handholding along the way, this separation has not yet happened.

We've seen some small steps taken in the last 6 months or so. For example, the church now meets together in their own little hamlet (top of hill, upper left of picture). But right now the church there in Tariknan is at yet another of these points where they're being pressured to show their support for the religious activities that would confuse their identity in Christ, blurring the line of distinction that marks out God's people as holy and wholly devoted to His worship alone. Until they end this compromise they will unwittingly find themselves with their feet planted in the space of non-commital, one foot in each world. Right now the leaders of the church are indicating a desire for separation and are asking for help from the leaders in the Mibu church to come help them stand strong as they explain why they are no longer participants in these things, and why they do not identify with those activities and those old ways of thinking. Please try to remember them in your prayers over the next few weeks as they are hopefully able to graciously, yet firmly, stand their ground.

We appreciate everyone who prays for us and for the ministry here in Mibu, and for those who provide finances each month to graciously take care of our needs and the needs of Mibu Ministry!