“You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work.” –Nehemiah 2:17-18
There is a remnant of Somau Garia speakers drafting Luke and Acts awaiting our return so that we can work on checking and revising their work. Our house and office in Uria Village are in disrepair. Ask God to break through the barriers to restarting the translation program. The foundation is there—it just needs repair.
“The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’ Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.'” –Nehemiah 2:4-5
It has been seven years since my family and I left Papua New GUinea. The Holy Spirit has quickened our hearts to return and finish translation of the New Testament. We have prayed. We are now in the process of making our needs known to “the king”. Ask God to break through the barrier of resourcing the translation of the Somau Garia New Testament. Time is of the essence. Ask God to raise up ministry partners to resource this vital and generation changing work.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” –1 John 4:18
The long history of false gods and bodange to shamanic religion has created a fatalistic fear in Somau Garia (and many other Melanesian) culture. There is an ever-present fear of reprisal for breaking taboos. Examples of reprisal: being waylaid and consumed by demon monsters en route to the place of the dead, sudden death while sleeping, sickness, or ruined crops. Ask God to break through the barrier of fear to establish the reality of his love for the Somau Garia people.
“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.
“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.
“The word of God is living and active . . . discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”–Hebrews 4:12
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.
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” — Psalm 133:1
Somau Garia culture is a consensus-based culture. Decisions are not made in isolation–there is a much higher level of interdependence between people than we know in the West. One spiritual battle that must be waged–and has a much higher impact on relationships–is for the unity of believers. This is especially true for the believers who are devoted to translating the New Testament into the Somau Garia language. Ask God to break through the barrier of disunity among the Somau Garia co-workers–that His name might be honored and his body strong. Ask God to unite them solely on the basis of their task–but by His Spirit.
“He [Jesus] disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” — Colossians 2:15
Somau Garia culture is what some call “shame-based”. Saving face is of high value in social status and function. A few years ago, a clan neighboring our house in Uria Village burglarized it. Most expressed profound shame when I visited last year–a level of shame that will likely require ritual to make right. Ask God to break through the pain and shame of wrongdoing, that Jesus’ grace and penetrate Somau Garia culture. Jesus shamed the spiritual powers that he defeated, not the people he came to save.
“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” –Romans 6:14
In the years following the publication of The Gospel According to Mark in the Somau Garia language, one of the more skilled Somau Garia workers, S.K., took a moral detour from the straight and narrow. His fellow workers banned him from the team. Ask God, by his grace and patience, to bring S.K. to repentance and renewal. Ask God to work powerfully through the published Mark to cut S.K. to the quick, that he might serve God with his whole heart. Pray also that, when he turns back, he will be restored to the translation team. Pray that God will break through S.K.’s heart barriers, that he might be fully God’s servant.
“Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.” Philippians 4:14
Paul was writing the Philippian church, commenting on their faithful partnership in ministry. They were at times the only ones concerned with his physical needs. Physical needs are more than just money. In the area of Papua New Guinea where we serve, tuberculosis is pandemic, as is malaria, amoebic dysentery, etc. Our Somau Garia co-workers are frequently at risk for debilitating disease. One of our Somau Garia co-workers, E.P., was afflicted with tuberculosis in his bones and was hospitalized for five months a few years ago. It has affected his mobility. Pray that God will protect and sustain the Somau Garia nationals (and their families) who have given themselves to the work of New Testament translation. Ask God to grant them strength and sound health so that nothing will hinder the Somau Garia from gaining access to the Word of God in their heart language. Ask God to break through the health barriers that hinder the work of transformation (through the Word) among the Somau Garia people.