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Get Your Prayer Guide Here

Prayer is a vital activity in advancing the Kingdom of God. Christians are called upon to be constant in praying for enemies, for governments, for authorities, for fellow believers, for open doors, for boldness, etc. Christians are called upon to be devoted to prayer.

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Even with all the Bible passages that direct us to pray, many of us struggle knowing how to pray enemies or governments or fellow believers or, as in our case, missionaries. Not knowing how to pray often kills motivation to try. Don’t give up! One helpful means of discovering how to pray is to use a prayer guide. Click here or on the image to download a prayer guide to assist you in praying for the people involved in the translation of the Somau Garia New Testament.

 

Thank you for joining us in making the scripture accessible to the Somau Garia people!

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What Does It Mean to Shake the Gates of Hell? Part 1

The early months of our missionary career left us with the indelible impression that we weren’t in Kansas anymore, that the water really does swirl in the opposite direction “down under”, and that the spirit world is not a state of mind, but a life-and-death reality. Our gates (and maybe our foundations too) were being shaken and we needed to learn how to live and—fight—in a whole new way. Rather than passively waiting to absorb attack, we needed to climb out of the trench and make the longest run across no man’s land to shake the gates of hell.

It is useful to have an operational definition of those gates if we are to wage a good warfare. In Biblical parlance, a gate is “a symbol of strength, power, and dominion,” (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 2, page 656.) As such, when referring to “the gates of hell” (as found in Matthew 16:18) it is understood that we are not referring to the place of eternal punishment, but to those spiritual entities in league with Satan for whom hell was created.

Courtesy of Lightstock.com

Courtesy of Lightstock.com

To confront this league of evil, we must wage war in the spiritual domain, using spiritual strategies, tactics, and assets.

Like a tent spread over all of the following thoughts is Romans 8:37–39:

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The principles offered in the next several posts depend upon the truth that our Father loves us and that there is nothing that can separate us from that love. Some of these principles may, at times, make us feel vulnerable, exposed to the enemy, at risk. Yet, we must risk suffering in order that we might truly know Jesus, that we might gain a better resurrection, and have our faith purified and made strong. Jesus defined eternal life as “know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

Be Known By God

Shaking the gates of hell is a cooperative venture with the Lord that begins with being known (or acknowledged) by God. In a general sense, God knows everyone. This is not about being known in that way. I’m referring to the kind of intimate, relational knowledge that the Father has of the Son and for those who, by faith, have crossed from darkness to light. Turn your attention to these passages:

Mark 1:9–11, “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ”You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.””

Job 1:8, “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’”

Judges 6:11–12, “Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ”The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”

Our authority to wage war in heavenly places is rooted in finished work of Jesus on the cross, the resurrection, and the mandate given us by Him. We are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), therefore we exercise delegated authority. Just as an ambassador serves as an extension of the government he or she represents, we represent the Savior according to His agenda, his power, his authority.

The difference in the Kingdom of God is that we are not just one of a host of bureaucrats carrying out the political agenda of a distant and unknown leader. We are sons and daughters, co-heirs with Christ, intimately known and loved by the One sending us to do his will. He has given us his Spirit to indwell and empower us, gifting us for the good of the body.

Christ’s finished work on the cross, his resurrection, even his mandate all exist under the great umbrella of God’s love for those whom He created. While these establish a foundation for shaking the gates of hell, they are merely the beginning. In the coming posts we will examine other elements of fighting the war in the heavenly places. Until then . . . may the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face shine upon you and give you rest.

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Light from Broken Lamps

My friend, Lim, came sauntering up to the house one afternoon carrying an old kerosene lantern. He often stopped by to chat in the late afternoon. “Brother Todd, could you help me fix my lantern?”

Of all the skills I had to acquire to thrive in a jungle village, fixing leaky kerosene lamps wasn’t one. Like most Westerners, I’d probably just go buy another rather than fix it. They are relatively cheap. On the other hand, I might learn something. I suspected that he knew how to fix it, just didn’t have the stuff.

“Sure, Lim. What’s the problem?” “It’s leaking right here (he said as he pointed to the seam along the base.” “Any idea how to sort it out? I painted it last time.” The verb “paint” is about as ambiguous in the trade language as it is in English. We can speak of painting something with oil, paint, or even medicine when speaking of treating a wound. I was trying to figure out what he was getting at. We walked into my little workshop and started looking around. He picked up a can of paint: oil-based paint that becomes gummy when it dries. Clever. I never would have that of that one.

Outside in the breeze we started brushing paint around the bottom of Lim’s oil lamp. He grinned at me. I suppose he’d had similar experiences when trying to teach his children lessons that seem so straightforward to an adult. We set the lamp aside to dry and took up the real work of the day, talking about what was going on around the village, in Lim’s life, and eternity.

I’ve often thought of Lim’s leaky lamp since then. When you only make a few hundred dollars a year, kerosene is an expensive commodity. How sad and stressful it is to watch it drip down the side of your lamp and spill onto the ground, especially with such an easy, if unorthodox, fix.

Missionaries, especially in the kinds of remote areas where many Bible translators work, can be isolated for months at a time. Spiritual nurture is rarely external. Maintenance of the inner life can be costly and precious. Stress mounts: sometimes cultural; sometimes emotional; sometimes interpersonal; as often as not physical (sickness). Whatever the cause, the lamp of life tends to spring leaks and the precious flow of Oil drips out the bottom instead of feeding the flame.

The servant of Jesus must pay attention to the condition of the vessel. Where are there leaks? How large? Can I plug them or do I need help? Where can I find help? The servant’s life must be filled with the life-giving flow on a regular basis, lest the light dwindle to mere shadow.

Following are a few Bible verses that may help fan the flame and give the servant an advantage.


I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” –Psalm 121:1-2, ESV

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” –Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer 0f faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”–James 4:13-16, ESV

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Close the Gap

Uria Village, Madang, Papua New Guinea – Rainy Season, late 1990’s.  It was a season of tragedy. Among other things, the wife of one of our dear friends died in childbirth. The hike to the village where she was to be buried was three hours’ hike away, across a couple of ridgelines, and I (Todd) was sick with what I thought was malaria. Angela would stay home in Uria with the kids and I would attend the gathering.

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Storm clouds were gathering as I prepared to leave with my Somau Garia neighbors. I stared at the dark clouds and into the dark jungle and prayed. The bush treks around Uria are stony and slick, narrow and uneven. About an hour into the hike, I was feeling nauseated and dizzy and became disheartened by what I saw ahead.   Before me was huge gap in the path—six feet wide and a hundred feet deep. It was beginning to rain. I stopped in my tracks and considered what to do. It was either turn around and add hours to the journey or take a leap of faith, as it were, and keep going.

Angela and I are in the process of resourcing the translation of the Somau Garia New Testament. We have been hiking this path for a few years now. We’ve just come around a corner and are staring at a gap in the path—just wide enough to be scary, just short enough to be doable.

Fortunately, we don’t travel alone. When I was hiking the path to the funeral, one of my friends leapt across ahead of me in order to “catch” me on the other side. In resourcing the translation of the Somau Garia New Testament, we need ministry partners who will either repair the path or leap across and “catch” us.

During the remainder of 2014, we are asking the Lord to close the gap between the current commitments that have been made toward resourcing the translation of the Somau Garia New Testament and what is still needed.

Would you consider being one of those God is calling to close the gap?

If you are interested in joining the prayer and provision team click here to join the provision team or click here to email us with your name and email address to join the prayer team.

Thank you for prayerfully considering your part in making the Word of God available in the Somau Garia language.

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Breaking Through the Barriers–Day 8

Breaking Through the Barriers Graphic Day 8

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions . . .” –Galatians 5:19-20

All mankind has at one time lived in the flesh. Where idolatry (e.g, bush god) worship is present, a priesthood of those gods’ devotees is also present. Among our closest neighbors lived five shamans (people who use ritual to manipulate the non-physical realm)–some claiming to do good, some evil. Ask God to break through the barrier of sorcery and the bondage it creates in peoples’ lives. Ask God to set the Somau Garia free of bondage, freeing them by the Truth of the Word.

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Breaking Through the Barriers–Day 7

Breaking Through the Barriers Graphic Day 7

“For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God . . .” –1 Thessalonians 1:9

Somau Garia culture is populated by numerous “bush gods” who hold many devotees to this day. Fear reigns supreme in many peoples’ lives. Ask God to break through barriers of old bondanges and allegiances to false gods. Pray that through coming into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus, fear will flee and our friends will walk in freedom and joy.

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Breaking Through the Barriers–Day 6

Breaking Through the Barriers Graphic Day 6

“The word of God is living and active . . . discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”–Hebrews 4:12

Garia Mark for Web

The Gospel According to Mark (see above) has been available in the Somau Garia language since 2007. Ask God to break through the ignorance of his word, his character, his power, his salvation by means of this slender little book. Ask God to break through the barriers of illiteracy  and inaccessibility to his word that these precious men, women, and children might know Him who died for them.

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Temptation and Prayer

One habit that Angela and I picked up when we moved to Papua New Guinea in the 1990’s was to always watch the path at our feet when we walked anywhere. Paths in rural Papua New Guinea are not wide, cement sidewalks or elevated boardwalks through wet areas. Because we lived on a very steep-sided mountain, our paths were (and are) narrow, stony, slick, steep, and snaggy. A person tends to watch the path rather than looking around at all the scenery. The scenery is taken in when drinking water or sitting for a bit of a rest.

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Jesus’ followers watched him walk the snaggy paths of temptation. He handled people who hated him, doubted him, those who tried to manipulate and use him, and tried to try and trick him into doing something that they could use against him. The disciples watched him handle both popularity and rejection with unshakeable character—and without sin.

Read the above texts. What do they say to you about temptation and prayer? Very early in Jesus’ three year ministry, he taught his followers to pray, concluding with, “And lead us not into temptation.”

On the other end of those three years he gave a similar directive—on the night he was betrayed. Entering the Garden of Gethsemane he instructed the disciples: “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” Walking several yards further, he dealt with his own temptation in prayer. In prayer he chose to make the horrific journey to Golgotha. Returning to his followers, he found them sleeping, “exhausted with sorrow.” He knew what was about to happen. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” They would need to have been strengthened in prayer to endure the coming hours.

Stress, fatigue, and sorrow can all take their toll on our ability to resist the temptation to fall into worry or anger or hate. Western culture cultivates these three realities. We are pushed to excess in all. It is a diabolical strategy to break us down and make us vulnerable to sin—to push us over the edge. Missionaries face these realities in a rather magnified way on a daily basis.

How do we overcome, friends? “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” Notice Jesus does not exhort his followers not to fall into sin. He exhorts them not to fall into temptation (the gateway to sin). There are three main sources of temptation: the world, the flesh, and the devil. As we live in the context of the world, within our own skin, and in an adversarial relationship with the devil, we must continually be in prayer. One of our ongoing prayers must be that we will not fall into temptation. If we find ourselves in the place of temptation when we are tired, stressed, and perhaps sorrowful, if we have not lived in an attitude of prayer, we are more likely give way to sin. How do we overcome?

  • Go, sometimes alone and at other times with like-minded believers, to a solitary place of prayer.
  • Determine not to leave that solitary place until you have surrendered your will to the will of the Father. Your flesh will oppose you. The world will oppose you. The devil will mock you. Don’t give in!
  • Call on God to work his will in your life at the crisis point.
  • Receive God’s grace and sufficiency to overcome.

By God’s grace, by his Spirit, by his Word, by his power we will shake the gates of Hell!

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Please Pray–May 20, 2014

There is movement in heavenly places, as there has been for some time in regards to making the New Testament accessible to the Somau Garia people of Papua New Guinea. There has been more visible evidence of that movement in our lives lately. Momentum is building and things are starting to move forward at a healthy pace here. It is more important than ever that we bring prayer to bear on this season of ministry–as we ramp up to moving overseas.

Sunrise, first day of the week, Atlantic Ocean, Florida coast, rejoicing in the Lord.

Sunrise, first day of the week, Atlantic Ocean, Florida coast, rejoicing in the Lord.

  • Pray that God will continue to make us aware of churches or groups of people that He wants to join us in this historic opportunity to make the New Testament accessible to the Somau Gare people.
  • Pray that we will exercise wisdom and discernment in knowing how best to convey the blessing, opportunity, and benefit to the Kingdom of God in seeing this through.
  • Pray that there will be no hindrance to getting on the field this year.
  • Thank God for allowing us to see the movement in the heavenly places and to be encouraged by it.
  • Thank God for moving in the hearts of men and women, in churches and families to provide for this vital need.
  • Thank God for showing us the full extent of his love in both the death of Jesus–and his resurrection.
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Please Pray–April 29, 2014

Please Pray April 29 2014 Header

Imagine being stranded on a desert island in the middle of the south seas. You find two crates ashore. One contains three years’ worth of MRE’s (Meal-Ready to Eat: self-heating, preserved complete meals). The other crate contains only Bibles.

You have nothing to do but make your hut, build a signal fire, and wait for a rescue. You rip open an MRE, activate the little heater in it, and find some shade. You’ve never read the Bible before, though you’ve heard of it. You figure that it is good to simply start reading what appears to be the main text. Page 1. “In the beginning . . .”

The story grips you and you hang with it day after day, sipping coconuts, reading the Old Testament. Malachi ends the section marked “Old Testament.”

Do you think you’d have any idea that 1) the Lord would send a rescuer to his people? 2) that the rescuer would not be a political rescuer, but one who would rescue people from death itself? 3) that this rescuer would restore the relationship clearly broken between Adam and all his descendents and Jehovah?

If not, then check out this verse recorded by the prophet Isaiah:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.  – Isaiah 25:7-8, ESV

The imagery used here reveals generosity, compassion, commitment, and ability to right our wrongs and restore to perfection what was broken by our sin and rebellion. He even goes so far as to get involved personally–swallowing up death. Death! What smothers all of mankind our Father is able to remove! Hallelujah! Furthermore, He has spoken to us by His Word and His Word is final. Death is removed, its sting no longer potent.

How fitting that God should turn our eyes to this passage in relation to missional prayer. In the Old Testament, God promised to swallow death up and wipe away every tear. Amen! In the New Testament, we see the fulfillment of that promise in Jesus, the Final Word. Notice:

Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. –Revelation 21:3-4, ESV

Please pray with us with this aspect of God’s character firmly in our spirits.

  • Ask God to open the eyes of the Somau Garia speakers who do not know him to the reality that He alone can take away their fear of death and the realm of the dead that so many fear.
  • Ask God to open the doors for the completion of the translation of the New Testament in the Somau Garia language. The Gospel According to Mark is in use, the rest of the NT remains to be translated.
  • Ask God to provide for our return to PNG in His time, in His power, for His purpose.
  • Thank God for people who are hard at work drafting and preparing further books for translation.
  • Thank God for mission partners who currently support this ministry.
  • Praise God for his compassion, for using his power to reconcile, heal, comfort, and establish his followers with life.

Many thanks to those of you who are moving with us into the trenches, standing in the gap, making intercession for a people whom God loves and desires to redeem.

Blessings!