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!

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