Friday, August 31, 2012

Second Day of Marriage Conference in Mibu

The second and final day of the marriage conference in Mibu went off without a hitch. We focused largely on Ephesians 5, building on what we'd already learned about God's design for marriage.

One of the questions that was asked really highlights well the kind of heart change that we are hoping to address. After we'd been talking heavily about practical ways that men can show love to their wives, someone stood up and said, "We here in PNG pay lots of pigs and bead necklaces and money for our wives. As such we just expect them to work hard and do what we tell them. That's what makes sense to us (this was a guy speaking, btw). What are we supposed to do about that?" God's word was obviously clashing with the way he knows he thinks about his wife.

In a culture where entering into marriage may be viewed more along the lines of an agreement regarding property, the idea of men showing love and respect to their wives and living well with them as fellow heirs of the kingdom truly poses a challenge. Not that the cultural norm of paying a bride-price is wrong. But what needs to be challenged is the abuse of that system. We're so thankful that God's word reveals a different, better view of marriage; the perspective from the one who devised and instituted it! With enough time holding God's perspective out in front for people to see, and with the proper encouragement to consider it, we have every hope that it will begin to affect change in people's hearts which will then be worked out in their families and the larger community.

One thing I enjoyed seeing a lot of during this conference was all the participation in teaching from our brothers and sisters here. My actual teaching wasn't more than 1-2 hours each day. Beyond that other teachers and members of the church filled in, repeating much of what they heard, elaborating, and talking about how they're challenged by it. Some gave testimonies about how their struggles in their marriage are rooted in the things they heard that day. One middle aged woman even got up front and gently exhorted all the ladies in the group concerning a proper attitude in marriage! All in all, after yesterday's lesson this kind of thing went on for several hours! A couple great things about this kind of participation is first, it shows this teacher who often lacks confidence that he's communicating well (that would be me), that people are indeed getting it. And second, the repetition and elaboration of themes done by them is a hundred times better than the words and exhortations that come out of this foreigner's mouth.

We're just so thankful for how well it all went. The hosting for all those who travelled was organized great! Each family gathered extra food from their gardens and some pooled food together to help feed everyone who was there. I didn't hear a single grumbling about people not being treated well as guests. Awesome!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

First Day of Marriage Conference in Mibu

Yesterday (Wed), the first of a two day long marriage conference here in Mibu went very well! As well as the locals, many others came from all the areas where the gospel has spread from Mibu; 7 villages represented in all. Nobody counted, but my guess would be that there were upward of a couple hundred people there!

Sesi opened the day up with an excellent reminder of what we have in Christ, and what that means for how we live our lives here. He brought out the need to love as Christ loved us; a perfect opening for talking about God's plan for marriage. After that Geoff taught about several topics related to marriage:

- Jesus' concern about unity among those who are his and how that is most pointedly shown in the marriage relationship.
- The uniqueness of marriage.
- Things that we do that hurt God's design for marriage.
- How behavior that hurts God's design for marriage effects the rest of our Christian lives.

The men were seriously challenged throughout to consider their responsibility in hurting relationships with their wives. And of course the hope of being able to move past those hurts because of what Christ has done for us was sprinkled throughout.

After the teaching a late lunch was prepared and served by the men... a task usually done by the women here, allowing the women a chance to do what the men usually do while food is being prepared; resting and enjoying each other's company.

In today's (Thurs) meeting we'll be reviewing elements of Ephesians 5 and also talking about the helpfulness of regular acknowledgement of and apologies to your spouse for areas of weakness.

We, as a family, had a great time together yesterday. The kids were really well behaved and fairly easy to manage. Shannon got lots of time with her friends, as did Geoff. It was a good time to just be away from the normal concerns of school and house and to be with our friends.

(In the picture: Overflow seating for the marriage conference. Thankfully the weather was perfect.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Final Tally

So here's the final tally on the recent 100x20 campaign. In 100 days we were able to find an amazing 61 of the needed one hundred $20 per month units. This means the total increase in financial giving toward Mibu Ministry gained was $1220! Thank you all so much for helping us get closer to the goal of having 100% of the needed monthly donations needed to minister most effectively to the Mibu church. Your help makes a huge difference!

And as a side note, regarding the side note :) You'll notice on the side column of each of our email updates is a little informational tidbit about where our finances are at. Please note that at the moment it is does not accurately reflect where things are at. It'll be updated the next time I have internet access. Apologies for the inconsistency!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Marriage Conference in Mibu

I was participating in a church meeting several days ago where the leaders in the church here were talking about their concern for marriage life in Mibu. As they talked about the problems they see and experience themselves, and as they tossed around ideas for how they can facilitate healthier marriages and family life here, their brainstorming pretty quickly turned into talk of getting everyone together from the different areas to talk and hear teaching about God's plan for marriage. I thought it was so cool to see how they put this idea together. Since then, we've been trying to prepare some of the teachers to provide some supporting testimonial thoughts as they express how God's word is challenging them about their marriages. We also want to be thinking of practical things they can do, starting right away, that can make a difference. Already the prominent mindset (among the men) of 'I can't wait to have my wife taught how to be a good wife' is being shifted more to 'What can I do to show love to my wife without condition the way Christ loves the church?' This is something they've touched on before, but clearly need more reminders with regular prompting regarding the practical side of things.

Often we might think that the difficulties in a marriage relationship would be totally different in such a different place as Mibu. However, when it comes down to it, and especially as we see what scripture says about the topic, and as we spend time having real conversations with folks here, it's clear the problems are rooted in and surround the same things that we experience in our marriages in America.

We're looking forward to participating in and seeing how this conference goes. Hopes are that this would provide yet another step towards God's grace being lived out in the community, pouring first out of the family.

The scheduled conference dates are August 29 and 30. Would you please be in prayer for the needed preparations and for hearts to be seriously challenged about some key elements of marriage that God speaks to.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Being Thankful Together

One thing we've seen happening regularly in the Mibu church meetings that is different from before is that corporately they all take time to express their thanks to God for the things he is doing in their lives each week. Various individuals usually call out or explain something they're thankful for. When everyone who has something to add is done, then the church joins together in thankful prayer. Such a wonderful way to regularly acknowledge and focus on all that God does! It's so great to see how important it is to them not to forget God's goodness. They picked this idea up from the Inapang church, where a number of Mibu folks visited for the Citizen Teachers Training Seminar several months back (you might remember we wrote an update about that). Another great benefit of the different believing groups coming together to share fellowship!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Here's the missing text

Welcome back to all the technical difficulties of PNG, right?!

Apparently all that went out yesterday was the picture and no text. So here we go... the text that was meant to go with the picture you got yesterday!

"After lots of travel, some rest, and some time catching up with the larger team here on the field, we're finally back in Mibu!

When flying back into Mibu was shaping up to be much more expensive than usual, we had to tweak some logistics to try to minimize the damage. We're reminded of just how worth every penny it is to be back though! We are so glad to be back with our friends in Mibu! After our arrival, I'm wondering if they're as proud of our new baby boy as we are!

So begins our getting settled back into life here. Our house is a disaster area. The picture you see here is after a very full day's work with even the help of one of our friends here! You should have seen it before we got started! Sometimes, in order to get the most for our dollar, we have to try use up the full weight capacity of the flights we're paying for on the helicopter and the airplane. This time was one of those, leaving us with an inordinate amount of food to try to organize and store. Yikes!

Over the next couple weeks we plan on working back into service to the church here in Mibu, continuing with translation, leadership development, and all the rest. We'll be sure to keep you posted!"


The attached file was originally sent with another message.

File Name: 2012_08_8511.jpeg