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Please Pray — 24 October 2013

Thank You for Praying

Many of you prayed along with our family through 40 Days to Freedom. I can’t thank you enough for the commitment, the kindness, and the impact you made in making that sacrificial journey with us. Since returning to the States I’ve taken time to process and reflect on the lessons learned and to thank God for his kindness in taking me on that journey with Him. He helped renew many things, one of which was joy, the kind that is born of purpose and in walking consistently with the way He made me. This rediscovered joy has ignited fresh passion and vision for God and his Kingdom.

The 40 day season of prayer has come and gone. (For an audio update, click here .)  Now it is time to do the harder work of asking God for power to complete the passion, to drive the vision, to bring us once again to Papua New Guinea for service. Would you pray with us regularly toward this end? If you pray for us regularly or would like to do so, would you drop me a line at prayer@shakethegates.org ? In the mean time, would you lift these things heavenward?

Ask God

  • Ask God to provide many, many opportunities for us to share the story, invite others to join the team, and to encourage the saints.
  • Ask God to raise up partners for Bible translation among the Somau Garia people of Papua New Guinea.
  • Ask God to ignite our passion, empower our spirits, and catalyze our actions in order that we might get to the field as soon as possible.
  • Ask God to provide for our physical, social, spiritual, and financial needs.

Thank God

  • Thank God for going ahead of us in all things.
  • Thank God for providing each month for our needs.
  • Thank God for his provision of righteousness through Jesus Christ, without whom we would have no opportunity to be reconciled to God.
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Impact: 40 Days of Prayer

Prayers Over the Pacific

The airplane was somewhere over the Pacific. It was dark, we were into the tenth hour of a fifteen-and-a-half hour flight and I was restless. Running through my mind  was this notion of 40 Days to Freedom. I was thinking of the prayers that had been lifted heavenward on our behalf and were being lifted even as sped across the Pacific at 500 knots. How would God answer these prayers? Would we see immediate impact or would this be a season of seed planting? What did God have in mind for this time, this journey, this group of praying people?

I slid the questions into an unused corner of my heart and went to sleep for a while. I would grab them later when I could put them to use.

Prayer Along the Road

Fast forward to a bumpy road in the mountains of Madang Province. Though it was early the sun was already hot. The greenery whizzed by on both sides of the truck as we made our way toward Uria. The questions started jiggling loose and flopping around in my consciousness as we bumped through potholes and rough spots in the road. Memories flooded my mind at every turn in the road and through each pass in the mountains. “How will you answer these prayers, Father?” Kablooey. Flat tire. In the middle of nowhere. Probably wasn’t my idea of answered prayer. A group of road workers happened by a few minutes later, jacked the truck up and changed the tire. We started rolling again. Flop. Swish. Flop. Swish. The rhythmic thumping and hissing of another flat tire–no spare this time. We sat on the edge of the road. I whipped out a mobile phone and texted my wife in the U.S. “Have people pray. We are stranded.” The prayers went out. Pray-ers prayed. Along came a truck filled with people who recognized me–they were wontoks (one-talks); Somau Garia friends. They loaded up our driver, our blown out tire, and were off to town. A few hours later we were back on the road to the village.  Those flat-tire prayers were impactful. I believe that the prayers offered gave extra oomph to what was discussed, what was decided, even in setting up conditions so that Jesus’ name will be honored when we return and get moving with the translation again. I also believe that a younger generation of Somau Garia speakers will be engaged and involved in the process of translation and literacy because of answer to those prayers and perhaps even due to the delay in starting the meeting caused by the tires blowing out.

Prayer With Impact

A week later I found myself in Tiap Village, where Aruamu is spoken, talking with the Lord. “Father, how will you answer prayers in this place?” No flat tires here. Events were less mundane. As I was preaching one evening, some young men were sitting together somewhere up the village, away from where we were gathered. They were absolutely astounded at what they had heard. “How is this guy reading our minds?” they were saying to each other. As we prayed and I preached the Holy Spirit was doing his work of conviction. He did this consistently. In four nights of preaching, nine were baptized and over 250 were prayed for as they responded to the conviction and leading of the Holy Spirit. A common theme emerged in the responses: a call to unity of the believers; to stand together and go forth with the Good News.

Thank You

The Father honored your commitment to pray (and some of you fast) for forty days. He responded to your cries by moving in the deep places of hearts and cultures to make an ongoing impact. Thank you for your partnership in these days of wonder.

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40 Days to Freedom Podcast Update

The 40 Days to Freedom Podcast Update is not only the story of people who prayed for a mission trip, it is the story of a God who answered prayer after prayer after prayer. Please take a few minutes to be encouraged and inspired to engage in the adventure of prayer!

Play
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Dickens on My New Guinea Experience

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . It was a season of Light, it was a season of Darkness . . .it was a spring of hope, it was a winter of despair . . .” Dickens opened The Tale of Two Cities with these lines.

These famous words reveal Dickens’ familiarity with Biblical truth. Pause, even for a moment, and think of your life and you may find wonder and terror swirled together–one of the greater ironies of life, evidenced in the heroism of first responders that stood out in high relief against the rubble of 9/11 or the immediate international response to the 7.0M earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010.

As August closed, I once again walked the soil of Papua New Guinea. I smelled the smoke rising from burning, dry mountain sides (preparations for a new garden season), choked on the dust kicked up by scores of four-by-fours plunking through potholes in Madang town, and listened to dozens of languages floating on the tide of evening. Memories hung in my mind like mist in the mountain valleys of New Guinea.

Some memories lend themselves to Dickens-like sentiments. There was the afternoon I passed by the front gates of Modilon Hospital. I was sharing a ride with my co-worker Marsha and a few other people. As we passed by there was a brief silence followed by an outpouring of remembrance: the last time we’d been in the same vehicle at that spot I was rushing her late husband, John, to the emergency room to get help,crashing through gates that had the audacity to be closed when I needed them open! The horror of that night was offset by the heavenly presence of Jesus standing in our midst as 25 of us stood around the foot of our fallen brother’s bed and sang “Majesty”. Jesus’ glory shined through the disjointed emotions, the disbelief of what we’d just witnessed, the need to see through tomorrow, to help our sister make it through the night.

There was the day that my friend William and I, along with a few others, drove to a market near Uria Village. It’d been six years since I’d been in Uria, walked the mountain paths, or visited the houses of my friends, playing at humor in a third language. That day was an odd amalgam of suspense and peace. Arriving at the marketplace along the main road we parked the truck and made the 2 kilometer hike into the village. There was a hue of tension underlying the smiles as I approached the village. Our house had been pillaged and my tools stolen in the six years we were away. I suppose every one felt a little guilty and weren’t entirely sure whether or not I would involve the police in the matter–which could turn out badly for them if I chose to do so. Of course I felt the butterflies. I didn’t know what to expect or what my discoveries would mean to the future of Bible translation with these people. The house was a mess, lots of expensive things missing, but basically fixable. I didn’t spend a lot of time in the house. Tears welled up as I landed at the bottom of the steps.

Lim Auwi and Todd Owen talk as they walk to a village meeting.

Lim Auwi and Todd Owen talk as they walk to a village meeting.

Awaiting me was my friend, neighbor, and clan “brother”, Lim. His face was downcast, his arms open. I approached him and he wrapped his arms around me and wept, and wept, and wept. When the tears subsided, he stepped back. “We thought we’d never see your family again. You’re back!” I was speechless. We walked quietly to the open air pavilion where we would meet with the others. Apologies. Promises of cooperation. Angry words from some. Finally a commitment to stand behind the translators and behind our family. “Your sons are our sons. Your daughters are our daughters. We will watch over them.” As we ate together the mood lightened. I showed pictures of Angela and the kids. Everyone ooh-ed and ah-ed over the photos of the boys. They had grown up in those six years, sporting beards and looking very much like the young men that they are. Stories of our kids’ younger years were told, laughter was heard all around. Smiles. . . there it was . . . I saw it. An abiding love for our family overshadowed by fear of rejection and retribution. The worldview of fear emerged ever so subtly. Oh that they would be free of fear! Love and deep grief congealed in my heart to form compassion.

A few days later I found myself in Tiap Village. I was reunited with old friends and made new ones. Steven is a friend of many years with whom I’ve walked many deep valleys. Pius, a new friend, smiles easily though he has known many trials for his faith. Pastor John, terse and intense brought much joy to my heart as he lead worship without restraint and as he gave himself to literacy work and discipleship,  eager to move the Kingdom of God forward. The Aruamu leaders recognize the razor’s edge that they walk, having given themselves to the translation and propagation of the gospel. Though the New Testament in Aruamu has been available since 2005, there is always the risk that they won’t be used. “Our people won’t change if they don’t have a hunger and thirst for God’s Word . . . we must pray and ask God to give more hunger and thirst . . .” These men put work with their prayers.

Todd, Pius, and Steven at Tiap 2013

Todd, Pius, and Steven at Tiap Village, September 2013

I feel their angst as they give themselves to bring their people to an awareness and love for the Word of God. They are working tirelessly toward finishing translation of the Old Testament. I was honored to share ministry with them and to share in the battle that they are fighting for the souls of men and women.

I’m grateful to God for using both the Somau Garia and the Aruamu to bring a thawing in my heart, to bring me to a spring of hope. The fire in my heart had begun to dim and cool in the wake of fatigue, sickness, and persistent, overwhelming challenge over a course of years. The fire burns bright today.

Dickens wrote about the spring of hope and the winter of despair. These two peoples of Papua New Guinea have known centuries of despair and fear. Perhaps the frost is thawing, the Son is shining, and a spring of hope is proceeding from the long years of darkness. May it be that through the ministries associated with Bible translation we might be heralds of hope!