Sunday, February 1, 2015

Justice: Impossible

You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous   - Deuteronomy 16:19

The last few weeks have been a roller coaster of drama here in Mibu. Much of the ups and downs revolve around the discovery that one of the teachers here, also a husband and father, has raped at least 5 young women, one of them at knifepoint.

It's been such a sad thing to learn of, and the church is greatly hurt by this man's actions. And since putting him out of the church the community has had a hard time deciding what to do with him. This is where the drama… and great overthrowing of justice has happened.

More on that in a minute. But first off, we see circumstances like this as key times of discipleship. Oftentimes, it's these difficult, emotional times of tough decisions that training the eyes to Jesus is most effective, and most needed. This time was no different.

As for the drama, there was some hesitation regarding whether or not to have the police come and arrest the man for what he had done. It would most likely result in 15-20 years in prison for him. In fact, as of January 1 of this year, there is a death penalty put in place for the type of crime he committed. However, since the crimes were committed in 2014 he was facing 15-20 years. The community eventually agreed that he need to go to prison. They were under the impression that they would be able to determine the length of the sentence, after which time was served they would banish him to live in the bush, away from the rest of the Mibu people.

Once the police were summoned, and had arrested him, things went south. Culturally here, loyalty to one's vast family line comes before justice. If this man went to jail, there would likely be payback from his family line, which extends well beyond just the "Mibu" community here. The police officer fed on this and after being sure to strike fear into the community about the conditions of prison and the length of his imprisonment, and also the unlikelihood that he would live to see the light of day, he managed to pocket a 500 Kina bribe to free the offender right there on the spot for the people to deal with in their own way… ie. make him live somewhere in the bush, by himself.

To make matters worse, the community began to blame one of the church leaders for influencing the decision to get the police involved in the first place! Even though the decision to involve the police was a result of community discussion, they turned and thrashed one of the few here who gives himself in selfless service for the good of the community.

We couldn't believe what had happened… They'd bribed to free a rapist and were turning the whole thing on a selfless servant!

Needless to say this was so discouraging to many of us here. Taking this as an obvious need for some further teaching and exhortation Chris and I spent some time saturday morning meeting with those who have been influential in the current circumstances. We had been working with folks through the weeks, but it hadn't been enough. So now, rather than scattered discussions with various leaders in small groupings, it seems a more up front approach is what was needed. We met and talked about the irony and sadness of the situation, and also some passages of scripture to clear up some points about the place of the church and of the government in dealing with crimes like this, since confusion here seemed to be partly behind all that had happened.

The response was what we were hoping, and we're encouraged to see that it seems people were really challenged to think differently about this kind of thing. While the decision and actions taken are irreversible at this point and this rapist is now basically free to hurt again, we hope that folks were convicted of the need to seek and love justice and that we can keep working on this area where their traditional values conflict with a biblical worldview. It's not that their loyalty to family is a bad thing. It's that there are times where you have to temper that value with another, higher value… the need to ensure room for justice . Justice is too often put down, even completely reversed (where the evil is uplifted and the good is made to be the criminal) because of these family loyalties gone too far. But then even more, their willingness to turn it all on one who has only given himself for the good of the community was especially concerning. This is a point we're going to have to work on over time here in Mibu, and we would appreciate your prayers to that end.

As far as the victims this is a good opportunity for the believing community here to consciously provide the support that is needed so that they can heal and move past the wrong that was done to them. Shannon and Angie have been talking with some of the women here to be sure an effort is made to reach out and care for these girls.

At the end of the day we know that while justice may have been overlooked for the moment by sinful men, a time is coming when full justice will be doled out to deal with all sin. We also know that Jesus offers, justly, to cleanse us of our sins by taking their penalty on himself, which he did on the cross. Those of us who trust him are brought into a place of great restoration and hope despite these evils that still abound in our earthly lives. We hope that the genuine living out of this truth can begin to instill a desire for and active seeking of justice as a 'trait' of the body of Christ here in Mibu. Again, please be in prayer for this as the church continues to grow and mature.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mibu... Recapping the year

We wanted to write and say that we hope you had a great Christmas and are looking forward to the start of a new year!

This last year in Mibu has been one of continued maturing as the church grows in their ability to stand on their own two feet. Here's a brief overview of some of the happenings in Mibu Ministry this last year.


We continue to plug along with the translation of 1 Corinthians. It's a longer, more difficult letter. We're nearing the end now and are more and more excited to be that much closer to having it ready to print for the church to use. We already have some 'teaching drafts' of the text printed in limited numbers and in perishable form (don't want the temporary stuff to last too long) for the teachers to use with their teaching.

Ups and downs with teacher responsibility

This was a year with many ups and downs. Most of the downs revolved around times when a number of servant leaders in the church struggled for whatever reason to carry on responsibilities they'd taken on. Oftentimes this would leave the entire body of believers hanging. For example, on a few occasions the church met on Sunday only to find that the person who'd prepared the teaching was nowhere to be found. This, and things like this, continue to serve as indicators of the still immature state of church leadership yet. Low points are expected. We're thankful to note that these types of low points don't characterize the church, but that continued growth seems more the norm. Yet, from our limited perspective, the low points can be discouraging. I equate the growth we see in the Mibu church to that of the stock market, ups and downs with an overall upward trend. Growth is happening!

Doors opened up for further spread of gospel

Other people groups are seeing a clear change in the Mibu community. As a result a number have put in serious requests to have the gospel message come to them too. Most notably this last year, a nearby group of villages from the Jerung language group have begun talks with the Mibu church to see if there's a way to have the gospel brought to them. The Mibu church is excited about this, but quickly realize that without a translation and literacy program any effort will not go far. They are asking for at least 2 families to partner with them in beginning a church planting ministry in the Jerung language. We've been looking for God's leading and direction in finding these much needed families who can come help.

Clearer vision of church

We are in awe as I think back on how leaders in the church continue to grow in their vision of the church, specifically as Christ's pure bride and as the pillar and buttress of the truth. There is definitely a core group of leaders that seem all the more equipped to lead, direct, and protect the church.

Literacy in Mibu

The literacy program has really struggled the last few years in Mibu. With the start of the Literacy Store, which aims to develop funds for use toward literacy expenses both in Mibu and in outlying areas, we're seeing one major hurdle to the long term ownership of the literacy program overcome. With needed funds out of the way, supplies have been refreshed and the literacy program kick started again. We hope this time with renewed gusto and long term motivation to keep it moving forward. The Literacy Store is not the only thing though. Some revisions have been made to the overall program, including its oversight.

Walkers back in Mibu

We have been thrilled to have our co-workers, the Walkers, back in Mibu to help us serve the church. It will be a huge help to have the much needed extra help with the tasks of church development!

Internet in Mibu

And finally, toward the end of the year, we were able to finally get internet in Mibu! Wow! What a difference it's made in our ability to keep in touch with folks, even being able to make skype calls back to the states! It's also helped us keep our computers and devices updated and in the best working order.

We're looking forward to this new year and all the possibility it holds. We don't know exactly what God's plan is for this year, but we trust him with every second of it each day and pray that we would be able to live in such dependence on him that we'd be his ready tools for use however he wants.

Thank you for being an active part of the Mibu Ministry through your prayers and regular giving! We appreciate your partnership!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from the Mibu Team

We just wanted to say happy thanksgiving from us in Mibu! One of the things we're so thankful for is all of you who hold us up in prayer and who support us financially each month!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mibu Ministry Garage Sale This Weekend!

If you've not seen it on facebook yet, be sure to note that Mibu Ministry is having a fund raising garage sale this weekend. These fund raising garage sales have been a huge success in the past largely because of people like you who have donated some of their stuff to sell there. Now is a great time to get rid of some of those things that have been accumulating and put them to good use.

If you'd like to help, you can contact Gary Husa at (480)980-3854 to arrange a drop off at their address in Tempe. The garage sale will be held at 245 W. LaVieve Ln., Tempe, AZ 85284 Friday and Saturday morning.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Update from Mibu

You may or may not have noticed lately that we've been posting a lot more updates on the Mibu Ministry facebook page! It's been so nice to be able to quickly and more regularly share more of the details of ministry in Mibu! We want to encourage you, if you haven't already, to LIKE the Mibu Ministry facebook page so that those updates can show up in your news feed!

You'll note too that we've changed the look of our email a little bit too. It's been redesigned to better integrate with your choice of social media. Good stuff!

So, stuff that's been going on with us…

First and biggest news is that we're super glad to have welcomed the Chris and Angie Walker family back into Mibu! After 4 years living and serving on our own here, we now have full-time co-workers again! This is a big praise! Chris came in a few weeks ago to prepare the Tartaglia's old house for a renovation allowing their family to live there and function more effectively. A team came from Sun Valley - Tempe and was joined by a couple friends of ours who work in town, and they worked through many big projects at the Walker house, adding on some living area, re-arranging walls and kitchen area, re-working some plumbing and electrical, adding a porch and much more! It was a huge undertaking, but after 9 days they were able to get most of the work done. Now the Walkers are back in and trying to get things organized. We posted tons of pictures of all the work on the Mibu Ministry facebook page, so be sure to check it out.

The logistics leading up to that project kept us swimming in emails and constant changing and re-changing of plans. Along with that I was trying to get the first 10 chapters of 1 Corinthians to a point where it could be left for a few weeks while we go out to town and then catch ourselves a little break. All was achieved, and we're now in town, taking care of a couple medical checks before actually going on our break.

Speaking of breaks, we're really looking forward to a chance to head out of country for a little here, to nearby Indonesia, where we'll be meeting my (Geoff's) parents and brother, along with his girlfriend for a few weeks before heading back into Mibu to resume work. We hope and pray that this time out of the country will allow us some much needed down time and get us recharged and ready to continue serving the Lord with all he's got going on in Mibu! The kids (and us too, of course) are really looking forward to having some time with family we haven't seen for 2 years!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Communication Breakdown

Recently I was able to finish going through the first round of comprehension checks of 1 Corinthians chapters 1-10. My friend, Keteng was my 'victim' for the two and a half day task. Usually a sleepy fellow, who suffers from emphysema, he maintained his excitement through all this as he saw these parts of God's word speaking (mostly) clearly in his language for the first time ever.

What we have right now definitely has areas that need fixing. It's because of this process of comprehension checking that we are able to hone in on areas that are ambiguous, incomprehensible, or otherwise just leaves them wondering what in the world the author was trying to say.

Comprehension checks like this are an indispensible step in the translation process when we're striving to translate meaningfully.

For example, when reading 1 Corinthians 9:8-14 just one time, if the text is clear in the Mibu language, I expect that the hearer will be able to relate back to me the gist of what Paul is saying. They should be able to tell me that Paul is continuing to show that he and Barnabas certainly have the right to the church's support, though they choose not to exercise that right. Within that context then, I expect the hearer to be able to tell me how Paul talked about God's word, how he quoted the Law and why, and what he says about those who work in the temple and at the altar and why, and also what Paul mentions about the Lord Jesus and what he commanded his disciples. They should be able to tell me how Paul moves through all this and how he uses it in his flow of thought.

It's much like how, after you or I listen to someone, be it a friend, or a speaker, or anyone, communicating something to us, we don't have to go home and listen to it again and again, or put lots of study into it in order to grasp what was said. No, in fact, you can test your comprehension of what they said simply by whether or not you are able to repeat the gist of what was said. Perhaps someone makes a really challenging point to you and you go home and relate that point to your spouse. You can do that after hearing it just one time because the message was clear to you. It happened using all the tendencies and patterns of your own language. It only took one time to grasp what was said and be able to communicate it in your own words.

In the same way, we strive to translate God's word clearly so that when people hear it read, even just once, it means what the original author intended it to mean. It's not too infrequent here in Mibu that I see someone take a portion of scripture home 'in their heart' after only hearing read once, share the gist of it with their family, mull it over, and then come back even a week or more later and ask specific questions about what that text means for them practically. This is without having it in print yet, but just having heard it read one time. I see this happen even with texts that many of us find difficult because our mostly literal translations may not be communicating clearly.

So back to that section in chapter 9 that I mentioned… Keteng was not understanding what Paul was arguing here. He wasn't getting that Paul was showing that he does indeed have rights to receive support, or that he had lots of evidences to point to in order to prove it. Something is definitely not happening with this text here. While I could point to any one part of the text and show how all the words and grammar are there that should be there, true to the original, none of that matters because it's not understood. It's not saying what it was meant to say. The result when Keteng tries to put the pieces together (because God made us to expect and look for meaning even when it's not clear) is that he forces a meaning out of the text that is quite different than what was intended. Or he takes little pieces of chunks of the text and makes them meaningful individually, but not as a whole. You haven't ever had that problem with a text of the bible have you? ;-o

For me as a translator, when I see that all those hard hours of work haven't resulted in a clear translation yet, it brings up many hard emotions. Visions of crumpled paper, burning waste baskets, and back to the ole whiteboard splash through my head. Yet I'm thanking God that we're able to see how to make his word clearer here in Mibu so that the people here can know him and worship him because he's made himself available to them through the revelation of his word. I'm thanking him for a method to note and track where problems are happening and to be able pinpoint what needs to change so that it says what it is supposed to say. And I'm extremely thankful for a translation helper (my friend Sesi) who I will work with on Monday to fix this and other portions, who has the wisdom and insight to be able to re-work something said in his language to make it clear.

As for you, I hope this gives you a peek into one aspect of what God has us doing here so that you can pray more effectively for this huge translation task.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Connected in Mibu

We're super excited to have been able to get our VSAT system in to Mibu and installed and up and running now! This means that we should have a regular internet connection through which to keep our systems up to date, communicate more regularly and reliably, and the many other benefits that come with internet access!

It was quite a saga getting the thing in here! It had to be shipped from Australia by boat, flown in by helicopter on a rack specially made for the large dish, and installed with very few instructions available. Thankfully the crew at Speedcast were super helpful in getting us up and running.

We're thanking God for this tool which we hope will allow us to be more effective in our ministries!

Little piece of worthless trivia: What does VSAT stand for? It's an acronym for Very Small Aperture Terminal... What?! Where's the satellite in 'sat'?