In late January, Lisa's parents were able to come out to Tigak for a one-week visit.
We asked them to share with you about their experience.
So without further ado, enjoy this guest blog from Steve & Ellyn!
~the Martinez family
AIMING HIGH IN PNG
Guest Blog by Steve and Ellyn Roe—Lisa’s Parents
One evening during our first visit to Noe and Lisa a few weeks ago, we spotted this very gecko clinging to the wall near the sloped ceiling of their house.
Ever the expert hunter and marksman, Noe grabbed a hollow aluminum tube, loaded it with a red plastic electrical wire nut, placed his blowgun to his lips, aimed, gave a mighty ‘pfffff’, and BAM! The “bullet” hit its mark and the gecko plopped down to the ledge below where it sat, blinking at Noe with the same astonishment I did. Noe quickly re-loaded, took aim, and pfffff/BAM!, hit the critter again, rendering it unable to move. I was beside myself with amazement at his precision shots. Noe lifted the little guy into his hands, proclaimed it “fit” to at least make a run for it outside, and then let him go into the darkness to either escape or be devoured.
Escape or be devoured. The target and rules of engagement for the spiritual ground on this tiny island (or anywhere) are a bit more complex than geckos and blowguns. You can decide if it is forcing the allegory to write, “Escape spiritual darkness or be consumed by it.” Our week in the Tigak tribe does not qualify us as experts, but as “forward observers,” Steve and I did come away with some “intelligence” which informs our prayers for our family, their team, and the people they serve.
Noe and Lisa are joy-filled on a very steep upward trajectory toward the most magnificent target: the glorifying of God’s Name in and by a biblical, robust, self-replicating Tigak tribal church. They believe in what they are doing, for “God is worthy of worship,” as Noe has said so many times. We saw evidence that they were trained well in America, are uniquely gifted and equipped for serving in a tribal church, and are blessed to serve with fellow missionaries Aimee, Ned and Linn who bring them joy and encouragement while coaching them in every aspect of tribal life, including fostering their competency in Tok Pisin, the trade language common across PNG.
We watched Naya, without any help from parents and speaking only Tok Pisin, carry out a business transaction with a local trader. (That’s our granddaughter! What a great little MK!)
Noe and Lisa and the girls mingle daily with the tribe, or schedule intentional language lessons with helpful villagers as they aim to learn Tok Ples, the heart language of the Tigak tribe.
We recall that it was a very high aim of Noe and Lisa as they trained to make decisions that would result in their girls’ ability to thrive.
In a culture which shares space with many an insect and dog, God has delivered the girls from their former fears of bugs and canines, given them happy hearts, a love for their new life, success with their fantastic homeschool teacher (Lisa!), AND a great friend in 10 year old Garrett Beall, son of Ned and Linn. These three children seem to bring a LOT of joy to the five adult church planters, as well as to several Tigak families.
We were amazed at how GOOD it felt to get in front of an electric fan in the Martinez house. Even a small stirring of air brings a measure of relief from the heavy, humid heat. While solar power provides electricity for such creature comforts as fans, there are no first world amenities to ameliorate apathy or religious syncretism, which challenge the health of the church of fifteen believers.
Without judgment of their society or ours, we witnessed a tribal culture not as invested in first world standards of efficiency, productivity, and goals as most Americans seem to be. If we were wearing the missionary shoes (ok, in the Tigak that would be flip flops), we think we would be crying out to God for cultural understanding, heavy doses of patience and perseverance, and steady infusions of hope. PRAYER is the method of choice here: prayer for the missionaries to be strong in their own walks with God and undeterred in their aims, prayer for the few tribal believers to not be discouraged or ceasing in their labors, prayer for tribal hearts to be awakened and hungry for God and a deeper relationship with Him, prayer for the teaching to be clear and the believers to discern truth from past false teaching, and prayer for God’s Holy Spirit to instill spiritual aims in a society which practices a certain degree of complacency.
The Enemy is real. We witnessed Satan’s hold on the minds of many in the tribe as they grieved the recent death from cancer of an eight year old tribal boy. While some of the mourners are steeped in animism, others listened as confusing works-based salvation messages filled the air, punctuated by wailing and crying which was devoid of the truth and hope which is only available in Christ. It was beyond sad. How can the missionaries help them? How can the biblical believers help their own people? There is much un-learning to be done. Hard work, indeed.
In a November 2014 Martinez blog written during orientation in Madang, PNG, long before they knew they would allocate to the Tigak work, Noe and Lisa asked, “ …please pray that we will keep our sights set on the higher ground, the higher goals… what His ambition is. What the big picture is.”
We came away impressed that Noe, Lisa and their team have taken aim at spiritual darkness on their isle and beyond, working toward the day when hundreds or even thousands of other Tigak on nearby islands will join them in proclaiming:
“The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; Let the many islands be glad.
For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.” Psalm 97:1, 9
The Martinez Tribe - our beloved family - is well centered and aiming high in PNG. All glory and thanks to God!