Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mibu Church Evaluation

As you may remember we asked you to pray for an upcoming church planting evaluation. The evaluation is done, and we want to share with you some of the excitement we're feeling as a result of that recent evaluation.

Three of the more mature believers from the Itutang tribe came to help with the evaluation as part of their training (red shirts in picture). This is different than how things have typically been done in the past as usually it's just expats doing the evaluation. The Mibu people connect on a whole different level with others of the same nationality. The Mibu people had all their time planned out; time to show them around, times and topics for discussion, who would host them each night, etc. The Itutang men had specific areas they wanted to talk about as well during their visit with their Mibu brothers. Their time together went wonderfully and we look forward to how this new connection with another body of believers will work itself out over the years. We're already imagining visits back and forth and leadership meetings.

Overall the evaluation was very positive. It was really great to get an outsider's perspective (yet, one based on experience in similar situations) on where things are at with the Mibu church. There are so many good things going on in the Mibu church right now. The little bit of teaching that the consultants witnessed was done very well. Translation (though slow) seems to be communicating clearly. The church is encouraged to keep pressing on for the most part. Lots of good stuff.

Yet as is to be expected at this stage in things, there are still a lot of areas of need. For example, while the church has been taught and discipled well up to this point (and they're really getting it!), there is still a big need to continue that process and develop leaders and certain skills that will allow them to stand on their own without so much external input. And while the church has quite a healthy view of who they are as God's people and their purpose, there are a few things that might need to be touched on again to help them see how what they believe definitely doesn't mix with some of the other prevalent beliefs that still float around out there.

We were able to talk about some different ideas for keeping things going in a healthy direction. It was also pretty clear that there is still a big need for another full time couple or family to help out with the Mibu Ministry, mainly with the tasks of continuing lesson development and discipleship/training. The Mibu Ministry will now 'officially' be listed as having this need. We're praying and hoping for God to direct the right people to us here.

Thank you all for your prayers and support!

Geoff and Shannon

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meetings in Mibu

Mid Saturday morning. I was working on a project under our house when I noticed Sesi coming up the trail to our house. I could tell just by the way he was walking that he had a purpose... and that he was pleased about something.

I stopped what I was doing and walked out to greet him. Then it clicked. Ah yes, this morning they had had a meeting for the men of the church; one of the first ones they'd been able to get together for quite some time now. Sesi and Keteng had been trying to get regular meetings like this going on and off for about a year now, but just couldn't get anyone to show any interest. The purpose of the meetings is to pray and discuss church matters (planning, issues, etc). The two of them wanted to try one more time here to get a meeting together. I remembered the recent worry that nobody would show up again and that maybe people are just upset for some reason. All this came back to me as I pondered the reason for his happy demeanor. I realized that the meeting had happened and had probably gone well, so after some small talk I asked him if they had met.

Sesi's face lit up as he prepared to tell exactly why he'd come up. Before he started though, we agreed that it would be good to talk over some coffee in my house. Once inside, what he proceeded to tell me had both of us smiling big and praising God. Quite a few people had shown up and were eager to be involved. They met and discussed topics of concern. Then they prayed together. Out of concern for the growth and well being of the christian community here in Mibu they focused primarily on these points in their prayer and discussion; 1) That God would help us, here in Mibu but also the church as a whole, to hear and follow his word and to be a good witness to those who have not yet heard. 2) After Sesi and Lookas have worked with me translating into chapter 3 of First Timothy, they've felt rather burdened about the need for overseers and other servants of the church to emerge over time. They acknowledged that nothing we men can do will make the right leaders. It's all God. So they asked God to begin to prepare these folks and help us discern who among them is qualified. They also discussed some other church issues like meeting times, and other smaller topics.

Knowing that a small contingent of national believers from the Itutang people is scheduled to visit this week. A good part of their discussion revolved around what they hoped to get out of their visit. The visit is part of an effort to provide mutual encouragement between churches. We hope that the visit of these Itutang men will be a huge blessing to the Mibu folks, maybe giving them some insight into their own church maturity and direction. The Mibus are extremely excited about it and as such, developed a game plan; a schedule and a list of topics they want to discuss with their Itutang brothers. A couple of the bigger topics they're hoping to talk about are persecution in the church and also to share about struggles that each church encounters.

Then finally, in their meeting, they decided to plan ahead of time a few of the topics they want to discuss and pray about next Saturday when they meet again.

Hearing about these men coming together for the sake of community dependance on God's direction and in the heart of keeping things moving forward was a huge encouragement to our hearts. Please join us in a prayer of thanks to God and also that this kind of involvement could be maintained over the long term.

Other prayer requests:
1) We're planning on traveling quite a bit over the next month and a half (Aug22-Oct5). We'll be away from Mibu all that time, attending a full month's worth of language and translation workshops and then attending our annual regional conference. Pray for our family during our travels to the different locations. Pray too for the workshops to be a fruitful time of both learning and fellowship.
2) Also keep the Mibu church in your prayers during our time of absence; that they would continue in faithful dependance on God's direction, in whatever they face.
3) Continue to pray for the translation process here. It seems so slow sometimes. We need constant growth in our abilities to be able to get this job done.
4) Pray for the health, logistics, finances and other support that is needed throughout this entire translation process. God's economy doesn't suffer like ours does. We trust and rest in him for all our physical needs as well as spiritual.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Interfacing Again

We had to say goodbye this morning to some guests who have been here for the last week.

You may remember a couple months ago how Shannon and I had the opportunity to teach about bible translation and talk about life in the bush with some students in the 'Interface' program. We both really enjoyed the 'full circle' effect of having been through the Interface program ourselves more than 10 years ago and now being in a place to bless others who are similarly seeking God's will for their young lives, questioning whether God might be directing them to serve in an unreached tribal location on the other side of the world! We enjoyed being a part of that so much that we wanted more! So we invited a group of those students to make a side trip here into Mibu where they could experience tribal ministry happening.

These 3 young men and 4 young women (joined by the Devines, an NTM couple who came to provide food for everyone) were amazing! Watching them jump right in, unhesitatingly spending many long hours with the Mibu people, despite the HUGE cultural and linguistic gap, was such an encouragement to us! As they tried learning some little tidbits of the Mibu language and culture, and listened to different Mibu testimonials about God's work in their personal lives and the life of the community, and as they spent time visiting in their homes, gardens, village and surrounding areas, they formed relationships that served to encourage on all sides. For the Mibu people, they were more than a little excited to have the opportunity to encourage those to whom God may be directing toward serving in another tribal location who has yet to hear the gospel. For the students, seeing and hearing the Mibu believers spoke to the power of God's word in any culture or language. For us, seeing what may possibly be the next generation of young church planters excited and in awe of God's work here reminded us of ourselves just over 10 years ago when we were on an Interface side trip similar to this one.

We're so thankful to have had the honor of sharing this experience with these young folks this last week!