The Mibu Story

Papua New Guinea is an off-the-beaten-path kind of place. So much so, in fact, that in talking with people many don't even know where it's at. So let's start there. Papua New Guinea is a small country, about the size of California, located in the south Pacific. That's just North of Australia.



Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse countries in the world. It has over 860 distinct languages! Imagine having that many different language groups packed in to the state of California! One of these language groups is the Mibu people. They live in a very remote location in the rainforests of the Finisterre Mountains; A mountain range so rugged and remote that attempts to tame her for roads into Mibu or even an airstrip would be defied.


Our team located into Mibu in 2002. We the Husas, actually joined 2 years later in 2004. There were many factors at play when deciding that Mibu was the place we wanted to bring the gospel to. Located in a remote location in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, the Mibu people really had little to no other chance of hearing the gospel message up to that point. There were distorted remnants of biblical truth that they'd been exposed to over the years; but never had they understood the message of the gospel. They included much of what they'd heard into their current belief system; even appearing on some levels to be 'christian.' An initial evaluation revealed that though they desired to understand the bible, they didn't have any means available to them (ie. no clear translation, no biblical teaching, etc.)

After several visits to the Mibu people and having had a very enthusiastic invitation to come live and work among them, we moved into the Mibu tribe and built houses simple enough not to be outrageously gaudy in such a remote setting, but adequate enough to meet our long term needs with solar power (enough to run computers, keep food refrigerated, run lights, etc.), rain collection systems, and basic plumbing.

Our first line of business was to gain fluency in the Mibu people's language (called 'Ma') and their culture. This was a full-time job for the first couple years. Keep in mind that the Mibu language had never been written before. There were no books or classes to take by which to learn it. The best way (and most fun, if you ask me) was to spend tons of time hanging out with the people, watching what they do, asking questions, and trying to talk. There is more structure to the process than that, but I just remember the fun parts; hanging out and building relationships with the people.



The more we learned about the people, and the deeper we got into our understanding of their culture, the harder it was to keep just waiting until that day when we would be fluent enough in their language to communicate the wonderful freeing truths of the gospel. You see, we learned that so much of what the Mibu people did revolved around fear. Many day to day activities and rituals and even large events; they all happened because of fear... of ancestors... of spirits... and of impersonal forces (like 'the force' in star wars). Much of what they did revolved around trying to either appease or otherwise manipulate these malevolent spirits so that the Mibus would not be hurt by them. Sickness, death, unpleasant social issues, monetary issues... all of it was tied one way or another to the spirits and forces. One was always trying to find the best way to manipulate via ritual, actions, etc so that things went well for them.



Like I said, it was hard to wait until we were fluent before teaching any of God's truth. But the day did finally arrive where our level of language proficiency and our relationships with the people were such that it was clearly time. We began a four month long teaching period where we taught every weekday, starting all the way back in Genesis, with the account of creation, and moved chronologically through the Old Testament until we finally taught about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

The reason we taught chronologically like this was because the Mibu people had little to no knowledge of God and who he was, man and who we are, our sin problem, God's promises, or anything like that. We needed to start from ground zero. We needed to build the most basic building blocks of truth, upon which the gospel message could be heard and understood. What good would it be to say that Jesus died for the Mibu people if they didn't know that God created them. And what good would it be if they didn't know that they had a major problem; that a tendency we have to rebel against God keeps us on the un-crossable side of a huge chasm. What good would it do if they didn't understand that God promised, even as far back as Genesis, that He would make a way for that problem to be taken care of so that we could be restored in our relationship to Himself. The Mibu people had never heard this stuff before! They listened with the eagerness of starved children at a feast as the story progressed.
 

Finally, the day came for them to hear about Jesus. By that time, they were waiting for him. They hadn't heard any teaching about Jesus yet, but they knew that they had a relational problem with God and that it was beyond any of their abilities to fix. They knew that God had promised to send someone to take care of this problem. When they did start hearing about Jesus' life some were already able to put the pieces together and began to speculate that this person, Jesus, of whose birth they'd just heard might be this promised deliverer... And even as we went on, others wondered if Jesus might die like the lambs that the Israelites had been sacrificing all those long years! They were ready for Jesus. Those months of carefully teaching through the old testament had prepared their hearts.

The teaching progressed to Jesus' death and then his resurrection after which we were all completely amazed as we realized that a majority of the Mibus at the teaching were putting their trust in the work of Jesus on the cross! Where their lives before were characterized by fear, now that fear was being replaced by relief and peace. Their relationship with their true creator had been restored. They had done nothing to earn it. It was all God's doing. In March of 2006 A new church was born in Mibu as they were brought into God's kingdom.

This was HUGE! It was a major milestone in the ministry. But it certainly wasn't the end. Lots of hard work and time lay ahead as the new church begins the growing process in their faith.

That was back in 2006. Since then we've continued the process of teaching and discipling the new church onward toward maturity. Our hope as we move forward is that someday the Mibu church will have qualified elders in place to lead the church. Basically, we hope to work ourselves out of a job, avoiding pitfalls that lead to unhealthy dependency on outsiders. This will require that they have at least portions of the Old Testament and the whole New Testament translated into their language. It will also require that they are discipled in ways that they learn how to recognize and use their God given gifts and skills to lead their church into long term health.

For more snippets of what is entailed in this huge task, make sure to follow our blog. If you're new, you may want to review some of the history of the blog. Our hope is that our continual updates will be an encouragement to interested folks about what God is doing, as well as provide some insight for our supporters as to what is going on in the ministry they're investing their time and resources into.