Noe-Lisa Martinez went from "Dating" to "Single".
Yes, go ahead and smile. :) We have been talking and thinking and praying with two other families about potentially partnering in a tribal church planting work here in PNG for the last year (or longer). As Noe puts it so well, it's like we were "dating" each other.
Last week, we all decided not to partner together-- but we are SO happy to report that it is NOT for any negative reason! The reason we are not partnering together is that those two families are going to go in together with the hope/plan of having a family from a neighboring tribal church join them in the work. This is ‘purposeful partnership.' How amazing is this?!
**Really, folks, this is a wonderful picture of what it really means to make disciples. Be encouraged. "Training nationals to do the job" is SO much more than 'here is the Gospel, here is the Bible, go for it!' It involves years and years, countless hours of intentional discipleship. In this neighboring tribal church, the missionaries (who happen to be here as some of our advisors at this time!) spent years:
1. Learning the tribal language AND culture (this includes understand the depths of the animistic belief system/worldview of the people they were going to share God's Word with)
2. Preparing Bible lessons that are accurate to the original meaning, but relevant to the culture
3. Preparing a literacy program so the people could learn to read and write in their own language- with the end goal that they can read the Bible in their own language. Also, discipleship will be immensely difficult without this.
4. Beginning to translate the Bible into the tribal language- again, understanding the culture so that the translation will be accurate in meaning, and relevant in form. Unfortunately, many translations have been set aside because the culture and worldview was not understood by the translators. Additionally, some translations are quickly completed, but there are no solid Bible teachers to teach it, and/or no believers to hand it to.
5. Teaching through the Bible for the FIRST time in the tribal language! And being available to dialogue each day and answer questions. (The questions will stem from their worldview, so if you haven't learned that, you'll have great difficulty answering these questions!)
6. Discipling- walking with new believers and helping them grow in their understanding of God and His Word! "Therefore go and make converts of all nations..." No! haha :) "Therefore go and make DISCIPLES of all nations..." (!) This discipleship includes working together to reach neighboring tribes and languages. The end goal is that they will be well equipped to continue this work on their own.
What a privilege to be a part of this amazing work! To be a part of His mission, to be a part of 'updating relationship status':
Darkness ... to Light
Stranger ... to Citizen
Lost ... to Found
Not a People ... to a People
So as we look at these two families, these friends of ours, we are filled with joy that they will hopefully have the opportunity to have a believing tribal family come and join with them, as co-laborers for the cross of Christ. Tribal believers who have been discipled by missionaries who considered it worth their while to be in it for the long haul. THIS is "training nationals to do the job". Speaking of which... this tribal church has now shared the Word of God with almost ALL of the villages in the tribe! And now, as you can see, they are preparing to partner with western missionaries to go into some of these harder-to-reach places. As the tribal church continues to grow in maturity and tools, they will be able to go to some of these places on their own.
So yes, we did have a bit of an emotional week as we "broke up" with these two families. But again, it is for happy reasons. We had plenty of reasons to partner together, we all are of one mind and vision in regard to church planting. So we spent last week fellowshipping with them, and on Sunday we drove them to the airport to catch their flight back to another region.
Language Check Update:
Many of you heard through other sources, but we all did well on our language evaluations last month. We are both out of Basic level and into the Progressing level. The next level is Capable, and we are continuing to work hard to learn this language and culture (remember, the two cannot be separated if you expect to translate, teach, and disciple with accuracy, relevance, and understanding).
The girls also had a little language check, and they both passed, being able to answer all of the questions presented to them! Way to go, munchkins! :)
We have about 6 weeks remaining here in Madang. Pray for us to be diligent in our studies, and ever loving toward one another. :)
On a Funny Note...
When to NOT combine English and Tok Pisin: If you are trying to say "I'll take a little!"
"I'll take a little lik (leak)!" .... Oops!
("Little" in Tok Pisin is 'liklik')