We’re back from our Bush Orientation!
We have just returned to the highlands after spending a busy and fruitful 8.5 weeks in the Tigak tribe. (Check out our video at the end of this blog!)
Here are some of the highlights from this time:
We both worked hard in our Tok Pisin (the national language of PNG) studies. We will have a CLA check soon (Culture and Language Acquisition) to see if we have both reached the ‘Capable High’ level of Tok Pisin. If so, we will be considered “done”/checked out of our national language study.
We enjoyed good fellowship with the missionaries who are currently serving among the Tigak. This included sharing in Christmas celebrations, eating and playing, and meeting as a team to discuss the status of the church plant in Tigak.
We met the believers in the Tigak church and mutually encouraged one another. Some of them were our Tok Pisin language helpers as well. We enjoyed worshiping the Lord with them each week, and walking throughout the village almost every day to visit them and observe their way of life. The Tigak church is made up of 12-20 believers. While these believers are firm in their faith, the need for discipleship is desperate. The believers have had very little discipleship, and are currently unable to reach out to the other islands where the Tigak people live. Picture it this way: these 12-20 believers are out of some 12,000 – 20,000 Tigak speakers!
We learned about the Tigak culture, including participating in both daily activities and special events. Noe was able to go spear-fishing or dive-fishing with the other men. Lisa and the girls got to help prepare mumus (cooking food in the ground with hot rocks and banana leaves) and weave mats. Our last week in Tigak, an elderly woman died. The entire week was filled with funeral preparations- building temporary houses and weaving mats for the walls and flooring, pig hunting and fishing, going to the mainland to work saksak for the workers that week and for the big gathering after the burial. One of the most interesting observations for us was the melding of many different worldviews/belief systems. Sometimes we look at these often-forgotten places and think that since they know the name of Jesus (and may even be able to testify of His death and resurrection!), that they must be saved. But during an event like this funeral, the truth of deceived hearts has a way of revealing itself.
During this funeral, for example, a man stood up and played some Christian songs on the guitar which everyone sang in Tok Pisin. The songs seemed very sound doctrinally! But the message that followed admonished the people to be careful how they dress and how they cut their hair so as not to mirror the image of Satan. Surrounding the gravesite were ‘charms’ made out of bush material that a ‘black magic man’ had placed to keep the rain from falling. These also served as a barrier to the gravesite. Word is that if it rains, it’s because someone had walked through the gravesite. So there we have it- the name of Jesus, works-based religion, and animism all wrapped up into one package. It breaks your heart. The people are deceived, and they are completely uncertain of their salvation, or of where they are going when they die, even if they can give you a testimony of ‘faith in Christ’.
It was interesting to us that on our first boat-ride into Tigak, we stopped to pick up a few women from the market. One of the women carried a very young baby. And in our last week in Tigak, one of the oldest women in the village was buried. There are many people and people groups like this one who from birth to death are surrounded by a false hope. Meaning- they are presented with Christ, but not the Christ in Scripture who saves us by grace through faith in His death on the cross. They are told that Christ died for their sins, so they must work to please Him daily and sin no more if they want to be saved from going to hell. Any man in his right mind will choose this option. What results is a life lived in fear, and a works-based salvation (which we know from Scripture is impossible and not what God offers to us in Christ Jesus!).
Please pray for the Tigak church as they are currently teaching chronologically through the Bible, giving a clear presentation of the Gospel! They are a few weeks in now, and we’ve heard that just about everyone is still coming to the teaching. Please pray that more Tigak men and women will be saved.
Thank you for your prayers, love, support and encouragement for us during this exciting time of Bush Orientation! It was a very good experience for us, and we look forward to what the Lord has next for us.