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 https://ethnos360.org/missionaries/geoffrey-and-shannon-husa.

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 https://mibu-ministry.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/not-place-for-compromise.html?m=1. 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!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Brought Back In

One area of the church in Mibu we've seen come to a place of maturity is regarding biblical church discipline. This is when someone is persistent, even deliberate in sinful behavior, having no remorse and showing no intent or even desire to be changed, despite repeated attempts by people in the church and its leaders to warn and encourage them. It's a natural outworking of those who truly see themselves as the body of Christ, bought with the price of his blood, called to be sanctified, made pure. When someone who claims to be putting their faith in the work of Jesus, yet continues to live in sin, and even defends their behavior rather than show repentance, the rest of the body recognizes that this person is not one of them. They know such a person poses a grave danger to the rest of the body who, though sinful themselves, at least recognize their sin, and loath it, and desire the purity that Christ offers. So the unrepentant person is removed from the congregation, to be considered the same as an unbeliever. The hope is that being put outside of the fellowship of those under God's grace would get their attention, and that they'd once again turn to the one who saves them. Such disciplinary measures might be hard for many of us to swallow when we hear of it, especially given our culture these days. The Mibu church struggled with the idea too! That is, until they saw the failure of NOT having biblical disciplinary measures in place to protect the church and keep her pure. So, more and more, they tried implementing discipline as seen in scripture and saw quickly just how much blessing is to be had through it! One success after another as people who were being excommunicated were coming back into the fold with repentant hearts and changed lives. They saw just how special and serious it is, this new life we're given through Christ's sacrifice on that cross! Through biblical church discipline the person is reminded of the futility and pain of separation that sin causes. Many times, we've seen that the result is that the hardened heart is softened and that eyes are turned to depend on Jesus, and to live in gratitude for what he's done for them!

As this has become more and more of a normal practice for the church in Mibu they've developed beautiful, indigenous forms for celebrating the bringing back in of a brother or sister into the church! We've seen this happen twice in the last month and a half! The church expresses their excitement by bringing their newly welcomed brother to the door of their place of meeting, offering a prayer of gratitude for them, adorning them with flowers, and bringing them in with a musical procession, dropping flower petals before them, and sitting them in amongst their brothers and sisters. Nobody's looking down on the person. Everyone is aware of their need for Christ and just thankful that one of their bretheren is seeing their need too! Some of the leaders then share about the significance of the event! It's a wonderful, and genuine outworking of an appreciation of who we are as God's people! It's also one aspect of church life that reflects the kind of maturity that gives us confidence in their ability to stand on their own when we're gone someday!

Thank you to all of you who are praying for us and providing financial support to be able to continue the ministry here in Mibu. Seeing things like this are evidence that our prayers and support are indeed producing fruit! We couldn't be here doing what we're doing without your help!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Latest Happenings in Mibu

This last Sunday Sesi and I finished teaching the last of the 1 Thessalonians lessons; eight lessons altogether. There were a lot of new and exciting themes covered as we moved through the text to see what Paul had to say to the young church in Thessalonica. In particular we honed in on Paul's always-looking-forward mindset as he relates the church's existence to the eventual return of Jesus! In just these short few lessons we're hearing this particular topic coming up in discussions, especially as it regards to persevering in the faith! We want to keep seeing more of this as a sign of maturity in the church! Now that these lessons are done, I just need to clean them up, make a few corrections, then print them in book form for the church!

As we continue to move forward I'm putting on the final touches to 2 Thessalonians translation. Then on to developing those lessons and teaching them. After that… gulp… Revelation! This is a fun little graphic I made to use in the lessons; Jesus returning along with his holy ones.

Each weekend I spend some time with the leaders, challenging them in their walk with the Lord as it pertains to their role as leaders. We meet after church on Sunday and spend an hour or two sitting, talking, eating and being challenged about how to grow as leaders here in Mibu. One topic that has been particularly challenging to them recently is regarding humility. This is a principle modeled perfectly to us by our Lord Jesus, and stands in stark contrast to the 'big man' thinking that permeates PNG cultural ideas of leadership. Jesus encourages a very different kind of thinking for those who want to be great… to consider yourself lowly and be the servant of others.

We've been enjoying the companionship and fellowship of the Noyes family these last almost six weeks. They've come into Mibu to do what's called 'bush orientation', an extended taste of bush life and a time to wrap up their study of the Pigin trade language before deciding where and in what capacity they are feeling led to serve on the field here in PNG. The Mibu people have enjoyed serving them by helping them with their understanding of language and culture. We've heard lots of really positive comments about them from folks in the church! It's been a pleasure to have them here! Shannon has enjoyed many times hanging out with Sara. The kids have enjoyed helping with their children and playing with them. And Craig and I have enjoyed lots of strategic, theological, and other discussions! They're a great family and we can't wait to see how God uses them on the field!

There seems lately to be a wave of medical emergencies here in Mibu! The day the Noyes family arrived a young girl was brought up having been cut deeply on her leg by bamboo. Since then there have been 3 other fairly major emergencies. I keep joking with the folks here that they need to get rid of their bush knives and stay away from bamboo! Craig has done much of the stitching and aftercare. It's been an excellent chance for him to test his skills with some basic medical stuff, and also to see just how quickly medical help can turn into a bigger job than we can handle. You see, our strategy does not include doing a medical clinic here in Mibu. It's easily a full-time job, and it's just not what we're here to do. However when a friend is carried up, is in bad shape, and asking for help, we gladly help of course! Every now and then though it seems to come in waves, keeping us quite busy. Sometimes we go 6 months without seeing anything. Then it all hits and it seems like we're suturing 6 people back to back! That's been the story for us lately!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

First Thessalonians in Mibu!

God continues to work great things here in Mibu! His church continues to grow and mature! We are continuously grateful for being made a part of His work like this! And we're also thanking God for your gracious prayers and financial provisions each month! We're all part of the same Body of Christ, working together, whether it's praying, sending, or going, to see His great name known! And we're seeing the fruit of that here in Mibu! Thank you!

Sesi and I recently finished (well nearly all done… just a bit of cleanup on the last few lessons) developing the lessons for 1 Thessalonians. We got the first five lessons (out of eight total) printed and have begun teaching this great epistle for the first time ever in Mibu! We're already a couple lessons in, and it's going very well; already providing new challenges for the church here! People are excited to continue to work right on through.

Once the lessons were done, I got started right away on translating 2 Thessalonians. It shouldn't be too difficult to translate, though there are two places that pose some challenges for anyone doing a thorough exegesis. But I've just about got those ironed out here and hope things can move at an acceptible pace here soon. It doesn't help that I've got so many other things requiring my attention through the day. Both planned and impromptu meetings/discussions, house maintenance/repairs (gotta change the gas bottle whenever it runs out, etc), administrative and logistical stuff, and much much more! Whew! Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to fit 3 full-time jobs into each week!

One of the things the Mibu church has been doing the last several years, that I love, is that a contingent of leaders (both men and women) plans and goes around to the different churches to see how each is doing, provide support and teaching where needed, help deal with issues that have come up, and generally just be an encouragement and a force for unity. I hear them refer to this with a pigin term, 'patrol'. So they're doing a church 'patrol'. One of the key leaders who usually is a part of these patrols, is so busy right now he's unable to go. But I had the pleasure of overhearing his discussion with another leader as he prepared him for the task he was handing off to him! I heard such wisdom and discernment in this guy! And when I hear them talking about doing a patrol, and when I hear the reports when they get back, of their times with other leaders in these areas, I can't help but think that the concern for the church that we read of in the apostles isn't being modeled quite well by these leaders!

All in all, there are 7 different village church groups they'll be visiting starting next Sunday. I'll give a sampling of some of the issues they're wanting to look into and address. Some of them are positive, and some of them signs of a messy church. One of the places has a small group of folks who are holding on to some of their former idols… just in case. Another place, sadly, the believers aren't even meeting regularly and the leadership there just seems to be 'asleep' kind of doing their own thing. In contrast to that, another village is doing very well with a number of godly leaders, people genuinely interested in knowing God, and people taking initiative to keep the church growing and moving forward! There are two places that are fairly new Christians, the result of recent outreaches, who they just want to encourage to keep pressing on. And much more! So lots to pray about if you would take the time!

We continue to work especially hard to develop leaders in the church, specifically with the appointment of elders in mind. Each Saturday morning I spend time with the leaders teaching and challenging them in a particular aspect of biblical leadership. This last Saturday we had a big discussion about centrality of the quality of humility in the church in general, but particularly in it's leaders. The discussion was such a challenge, that those in attendance asked if we could go through it again with a larger group on Sunday after the worship and teaching service! Among many other things, this church needs skilled shepherd/elders who give sacrificially out of a deep care for the well being of God's people, and who can teach, guide, and protect. Please continue to pray for these leaders.
We celebrated Abigail's 7th birthday on May 11th! Can't believe how quick she's growing up!

A group of kids just hamming it up in Mibu!
Skyler and Maddie showing me the 'super cool' place they discovered in the jungle near our house!