Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Lousy Christmas

Actually we're having a wonderful Christmas celebration here in Mibu! Though we discovered and are trying to treat a lice infestation (hence the title... got your attention didn't it?).

We've been enjoying some visiting and fellowship with Mike (our helicopter pilot) and his wife Kelly and their kids over christmas here. It's been wonderful to have them in here!

We wanted to write to tell you that we hope you have a wonderful day remembering the birth of our Savior!

We also wanted to say a special thanks to all of you who support us through prayer and finances each month. Your prayers and your generosity have been a huge part of another year of fruitful ministry here in Mibu!

Merry Christmas to all you, our friends and family!

Geoff and Shannon
and Skyler (8), Maddie (6), Abby (3), Ethan (20mo)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ongoing Evangelism Lessons in Mibu

One of the things we're praising God for is to see new cycles of God's truth moving through as those who mature in their faith do what they can to pass it on to others. In this case we're seeing bible teachers faithfully teaching through another round of evangelism lessons. This time, not away in another village, but right here in Mibu where it all originally started.

It may seem strange to us to hear about evangelism lessons, especially ones that take months to go through. We might be more used to the idea of the sharing the gospel message being constrained to one time encounters, maybe on a train, in the park, or in a church service. Here, the gospel message is presented starting all the way back with the creation story, the fall of man and his sinfulness and resulting need of a savior. The lessons progress through the story as God has revealed it in his word, weaving in the theme of the promised deliverer. The final handful of 55 lessons brings Jesus front and center as the perfect solution put forth by God; the one he promised all the way back in the third chapter of Genesis.

These are the teachers who have been sharing the workload of teaching through the lessons one week at a time, teaching every morning for a week, then taking the next week off, and then resuming the next week to make it through all the lessons. It's exciting to see their resolve as they persevere through the time consuming task of teaching all these lessons, not just once, but twice; Once in the morning, and then another in the afternoon at the school. From left to right: Nooka, Nokone, Devit, Roifo, and Jep, and not pictured is Keteng.

The workload is great enough that they barely have enough time to collect and cook and eat their meals through the day. So the church has been encouraged to them out by gathering and cooking food to provide for their needs. How awesome is that!

Each day there are consistently 50-60 people gathered to hear the teaching. Among them are a number of folks who either have not heard this message before or who heard but have yet to place their trust in what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Some of those attending have actively persecuted the church here.

Right now, they're not quite half way through all the lessons. Soon to come will be the lessons talking about the law. This is often a make it or break it point on the path to understanding their need for Jesus. It's easy and natural for folks to get hung up on the idea that following some set of rules is going to make them acceptable in God's eyes. The law was given with the intent of showing God's holy expectations, which much like a mirror, shows us just how much help we really need. "Who can follow these laws perfectly?! God help us!" Should be the sense one walks away from God's revealed law with. For those who realize they can't possibly meet God's expectations on their own, there tends to be a readiness to accept the truth that Jesus takes care of all that for us. This is the point the Mibu teachers are hoping to bring folks to here in the next couple weeks. You can be praying for this.

Please continue to lift up the Mibu church in their efforts to share the message of God's perfect provision in Jesus. Lift up the teachers as they feel exhausted at times and certainly struggle with doubts about continuing and with feelings about just giving up. Pray for those who might be hearing this message for the first time, that God would be softening their hearts and germinating seeds of faith. Pray for those who already believe, that the basis of their faith is strengthened, providing a foundation on which strong conviction in the power of Christ leads to more heart level change in their lives.

And thank you so very much for your continued support for us, both prayerfully and financially as we serve the maturing church here in Mibu!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back Into Fellowship

This last Sunday was a real treat to witness! You may remember about a year ago we told you about how the church here in Mibu was being obedient to the mandate to distance themselves from a man and a woman who were continually involved in an adulterous relationship and showing no signs of repentance.

We're praising God that recently the woman has been expressing how painfully aware she has become of how wrong and hurtful her relationship with this other man has been. This last week she was graciously brought back into fellowship! We're praying that the excitement and joy of the church to have her among us once again is more than evident and that encouraging, godly relationships are rekindled quickly.

You can also pray for the man too. Though it begs another issue that needs attention, social norms here made it much easier for folks to avoid the woman than the man. Putting the wrongness of this aside as a separate issue, the result still was that the woman was in a place to truly feel the effect of being an outsider. This had it's effect over time, bringing about serious reflection and remorse. Not so with the man, toward whom only a handful have acted on the need to keep the dangers of unchecked sin out of the church. While he doesn't participate in any regular church meetings, many believers still 'fellowship' with him on a regular day to day basis. He continues in his sinful behavior and we're praying that folks would be able to see the need to not associate with him in hopes of seeing him turn around.

But for now, we are so grateful for God's grace to bring this dear woman back to himself. The church leaders chose to read the parable of the lost sheep after they officially welcomed her back in. Perfect choice!

What an encouragement it is to us to see the church maturing as they go through these interesting challenges. Thank you to each of you for your continued prayers for these dear brothers and sisters.

Friday, December 6, 2013

General Update

We continue to press on here with the ministry God has given us here in Mibu. Heavy on our minds (heavier than usual, at least) is the need for the development of leaders in the church to elder readiness. Right now the Mibu church does not have elders. There are potentials for sure, but just not quite ready to take on the full responsibility of the care of God's people. No, we're not discouraged that they're not there yet. We see God working amazing growth as they sense this need and learn to depend on God for the grace to invest themselves further and further into the task. We're hoping soon after the new year that we can begin a study with the leaders here to process and apply what God's word says about shepherding his people.

As always, the need for translation continues. Having recently finished Ephesians and completely readied it for the final check with a translation consultant, I've moved on into 1 Corinthians. I'll be rounding the corner into chapter 4 here soon, hopefully. While the need for translation is great enough to warrant all our effort, there are so many other needs remaining for the overarching task of church development that translation still doesn't get all the time I'd like to be able to put into it. However, I think I'm starting to see that God knows what he's doing here with me (duh!), and continues to use our efforts to accomplish his purposes here.

Shannon continues to spend time with the ladies here as she finds the time, in between keeping the home, homeschooling and managing 4 young kids. Recently (thanksgiving day actually) some women came from all around, from the various areas where the Mibu church has done outreaches. They wanted to spend the day being encouraged in areas such as family life, purpose in the church, and organizing prayer and study meetings among themselves as part of their desire to know God better. Shannon and her good friend Wunjo took the meeting under our house (my workshop) because of the weather. Shannon was really impressed as Wunjo led the meeting with such humble confidence. She's clearly grown in her leadership abilities and love for God. How awesome is that!

We also recently had a visit by one of our church development consultants. Gary Smith lives and works in Dinangat, just over the other side of the mountain range from us. He was able to bring in a couple guys, Felix and Lucas from the church there. Felix and Lucas were a real blessing to the church here as they connected with the Mibu church. It was a big encouragement to them... and to us. And to top it off, the logistics worked out just right that Sesi and Tima, two leaders here in Mibu, were able to accompany them back to the other side of the mountain for the night. This firmed up the connection and gave Sesi and Tima some ideas to bring back here. The Dinangat church even blessed the socks off the church here by putting together some money to send back with them to help the Mibus with the need to buy printed literacy materials. Wow! It's so great to see the sense of being one body together result in two totally different groups of people with different languages and cultures, but who share the same Spirit, connect and serve in this way!

You may remember a while ago we asked for prayer for the evangelism lessons (teaching from creation through the death and resurrection of Christ)that the church was to start up again. That teaching continues to go well. The teachers seem to be sustained in their strength and desire for the Lord to be glorified through this, and so they press on. I'd like to devote more to this in another update sometime soon, after I get some more recent information and stories about what has been going on at the lessons. Maybe some pictures too!

Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support that helps us to be able to serve here in this off-the-beaten-path place. We carry on encouraged and joyful to see God's Spirit at work in the lives and community of the Mibu people. I know it may be hard to feel it sometimes, but even from over there on the other side of the world, your partnership makes a huge difference. God's call for us to serve here is so strongly affirmed for us through your support!

Blessings from the Husas in Mibu