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Prayer Update–April 22, 2014

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There is so much to sort out in the mind, heart, and spirit when considering the resurrection of Jesus. Without it our faith is futile. Without it we have no hope. Without it we are to be pitied above all men. There are other aspects of His resurrection that are less discussed generally. Try this one on for size:

for God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power and love and self control. (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)

In the resurrection of Jesus:

  • we have been given the Spirit
  • we have been empowered
  • we have been equipped to love
  • we are able to control ourselves–living beyond our passions

Furthermore,

If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful. (2 Timothy 2:11-13, ESV)

What must we fear if we have died with him? We have victory over death through Jesus Christ: the sting of death is removed and is not the bitter pill it once was. We are no longer obligated to slavishly obey every whim of our bodies–whether that be lust or gluttony or laziness or gossip or fear or arrogance . . . We are free!

Why share these thoughts in a prayer update?

When I write the words “Pray With Us” I’m inviting you into an activity that marks you as dangerous to entities in heavenly places. The oft quoted passage is appropriate here:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God . . .  (Ephesians 6:12-13, ESV)

Believer, you must understand that Jesus has made a spectacle of these spiritual forces when He walked out of the grave. He rules at the right hand of Almighty God, riding the white horse to victory, treading out the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God. We are sent forth in the name, authority, and majesty of Jesus Christ not to kill and destroy and subdue, but to conquer evil in love, purity, and spiritual power.

When you pray in alignment with the Father’s heart, you are wrestling against echelons of evil, arrayed in the whole armor of God, marching to victory.

We together must pray, must call upon the name of the Lord, must leap into the fray in the name of Jesus Christ the Risen One and shake the gates of hell in Jesus’ name!

As you pray,

  • Thank God for imbuing us with the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome sin and death in Jesus’ name.
  • Thank God for His compassion and longsuffering patience with the nations; that He has provided a means for them to come into relationship with Him.
  • Thank God for calling us out of darkness into His wonderful light.

Pray specifically for Bible translation efforts in Papua New Guinea:

  • Pray that there will be unity across ethnic boundaries–that Christians of different people groups will work together in Jesus’ name and for his glory.
  • Pray that expatriate missionaries will exercise great wisdom and discernment in serving both Jesus and the peoples of Papua New Guinea–that God’s word will be made accessible to all.
  • Pray that the Father will protect and provide for the teams that are intensely involved in the Bible translation ministry.

Mount your white horses, take up the weapons of your warfare, and fearlessly bring the battle right to the gates of hell!

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Incredible Opportunity!

Kakeri ipaki kanikina, “Tini sanawa sanawa xounari xokupa xuiapu Xoiteupo kuna meru utei kanika.”

These words carry profound meaning and deep impact to about 4,000 people on this planet. You see, these words are old, some of the last words that Jesus spoke on this earth. As He was getting ready to ascend into heaven, He took care of a few last but very important things. He uttered to his followers: “και ειπεν αυτοις, πορευθεντες εισ τον κοσμον απαντα κηρυξατε το ευαγγελιον παση τη κτισει.”

Do you feel the absurdity of trying to understand the Word of God when it is thrown at you in languages you do not speak or understand? Do these words communicate love and mercy? Judgment or call to repentance? Do they give you instructions on what to do in order to be a good servant of Jesus?

How about this?

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15, ESV.

This command is unambiguous when put simply in your heart language. There is no wiggle room here. It is uncomfortably direct for some. For others, it stands before us a door that Jesus himself has opened–and therefore no one can shut.

There are times when an open door is  inviting. The door is cracked, light pours in, a glimpse of blue or even slate gray appears, piquing our interest. Step to the door and look out onto . . . opportunity–incredible opportunity.

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Jesus invites you to step into the doorway and look out onto vast jungle covered mountains, creviced with deep valleys and spring-fed streams, foot paths, gardens, and a people plying a cash market trade between their cacao groves, coffee orchards, stands of vanilla and the road winding northwest to southeast to the major coastal ports of Madang and Lae. He invites you to interact with a people created for His glory; a people in need of a Savior and in need of His life-giving Word. Come, step through the door with us and help us laugh and cry with them, walk and work with them, and live life with them.

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.

During April and May we are praying that God will greatly increase the provision of resources needed to place my family and I back in this incarnational ministry, living and loving through life lived out before the eyes of a watching people. Bible translation by nature is incarnational, it is transformational, it is multi-generational.

Won’t you join us in this great venture? Want to know more? If you’d like to hear our story and why this is so very important, click here. If you’d like to step into the doorway and get involved, click here to learn how. If you’d like to start a conversation about partnership in ministry looks like, email me by clicking here.

Before us stands a door that Jesus has opened and no one can shut. Come on in!

 

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Please Pray–March 11, 2014

There are basically two areas that I’d like to suggest for prayer today.

Spring Forward Campaign

First regards our ministry partnerships. As missionaries serving with Pioneer Bible Translators, we compose a budget each year which is reviewed by mission leadership and either approved or not approved by our board of directors. It’s an interactive process that usually sees the initial budget tweaked and streamlined. Faithful stewardship of resources is one of our core values and one reason we appreciate the ongoing accountability of the budgeting process and PBT’s commitment to an annual audit, membership in the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability, etc.

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Currently, we have pledges that cover about 1/3 of our approved budget. Before we can leave for Papua New Guinea, we must be at or near 100% of our approved budget–so as not to get to Papua New Guinea underfunded, which has many, many negative results. In response to a strong conviction that God wants us on the field in 2014, we began the Spring Forward Campaign, an effort organized to increase our monthly pledges from 1/3 of budgeted needs to 2/3 of budgeted needs within the space of two months. We are asking God to provide the next 1/3 of our budgeted needs by May. Is God calling you to join the prayer and provision team? Click here to drop us a note or click here to visit the donate page.

Somau Garia Translation Committee

One of the major tasks that we had in the early days of our association with the Somau Garia people was training local Somau Garia speakers, most with little formal education, to do the work of Bible translation. Our team is a great picture of the way in which God uses people with all kinds of gifts and talents, in community, to accomplish His purposes. I bring formal training (like translation principles, exegetical skills, etc.) to the table. My Somau Garia brothers bring facility with the language, insiders’ knowledge of the culture, its history, and a great capacity for learning to the table. Each of the people we’ve worked with over the years has given sacrificially to see the translation of the New Testament into their heart language have even the slightest chance to become reality.

Todd and the SG men

Todd with Somau Garia Translators

Pray for God to protect each of these men from the deadly attacks of the enemy. They are threats to the diabolical kingdom and are generating threats to his grip on these people. Pray that their hearts will remain steadfast, that their energy will remain strong, that they will not give way to temptation or to despair as they draft. Pray that God will call them out and empower them for the ministry that He has prepared beforehand for them to walk in.

Thank you for interceding on our behalf. We are grateful for the prayer and provision team that God is assembling to insure that there will be a strong church among the Somau Garia people–whom He made for His glory!

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Please Pray–March 4, 2014

Friends,

You will notice on the Ministry News and Opportunities page (above) that we are starting a new partnership campaign we are calling the Spring Forward Campaign. The basic idea? Increase the pledges to PBT from the current 1/3 of our approved budget to 2/3 in the next two months. The Holy Spirit continues to impress deeply upon Angela and I that the time is at hand for our return to Papua New Guinea and the re-engagement of translation of the remaining 26 books of the Somau Garia New Testament.

Please pray earnestly today that God will raise up provision partners (churches, families, friends, missions enthusiasts, etc.) to make this vision possible. Pray that God will give Angela and I boldness, discernment, and clarity to do our part in raising awareness of this world-changing need: making the Word of God available to a people who have no access to it in their heart language. Pray for God to open door after door to see this through to completion.

Thank you for praying.

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The Time is Now . . .

When I (Todd) was in Papua New Guinea last September, I spent time with people for whom God has given me a deep love, connection, and calling. He has inscribed them on the pages of my heart in a spiritual ink that will not fade with time and cannot be erased by the distractions or worries of life. As often as I’ve been tempted to turn away from this calling, God brings them to me in dreams, in reading, in off-hand comments made by people who are unwittingly used by God to remind me of this people made before time for God’s glory.

Getting the Word Out Somau Garia Style

Getting the Word Out Somau Garia Style

When I am weary and fearful, God calls me to strength and courage and continually draws me to the place of remembrance. I cannot escape it. He calls me to a mountainside in Papua New Guinea and he floods this theater of the mind with faces etched by the tropical sun, voices of children and grandmothers calling after them, with the musty smell of the jungle in rainy season, with the course feel of calloused hands hardened by day after day of back-breaking labor. He reminds me of the high stakes of this calling by bringing visions of shamans making sacrifice for the recently dead, of faces covered in hot tears streaming down their chins, fear-ridden wailing as another young person has given way to tuberculosis or murder or any number of tragedies. Oh God, do not delay . . . allow us to be with them soon . . .

Treasure . . .

Treasure . . .

Angela and I feel that the Holy Spirit has kicked it up a notch in returning us to Papua New Guinea to finish the translation of the Somau Garia New Testament. The urgency we feel is almost painful and we are noticing that every week we are having more dreams, more tears, more internal pressure to get there this year. The time is definitely now. There is no mistaking it.

We’ve prayed. We’ve talked strategy. We’re looking to God to move mountains to make this happen. In response to all this, we’re prayerfully laying an opportunity before you. We’re calling it the Spring Forward campaign and here’s the idea. We are at about 1/3 of the monthly pledges we need for Pioneer Bible Translators to allow us to return to Papua New Guinea. We are asking God to increase those pledges within the space of the next two months to 2/3 of monthly pledges needed to land us on the field. Here’s how you can participate in this campaign.

spring forward campaign week 1 graphic

First, talk to God about it. Ask Him what He would like you to do to make the completion of the translation of the Somau Garia New Testament possible. Second, if He leads you to join the provision team, visit the “Donate” page by clicking here and decide which kind of donation you’d like to set up. Third, drop us a line to let us know of your intention to support Pioneer Bible Translators so that we can add you to our email updates, prayer updates, etc.

Thank you for prayerfully considering God’s desires for your involvement in this ministry of getting the word made available to the Somau Garia people in their heart language.

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Hope for the Hopeless

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4, ESV

Garia boy holds Book of Mark

The next generation of the Garia holding the Word of God in their hands.

While hope is found in many places, true and lasting hope is found in the Scriptures. What happens when someone doesn’t have access to the Scriptures in a language that they understand? Peter’s story (not Peter the apostle) is a somber reminder of the need for Bible translation. Enjoy a brief but important reminder of the value of access to the Scripture.

 

 

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What’s a Life Worth To You?

[tube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VyFca-V4cc[/tube]

The Spirit of God continues to draw our hearts across the Pacific to a mountain village on the side of Mount Somau. Please pray for our preparations and, if God be drawing you too, come alongside us as a financial partner . . . Visit the Donate Page to learn how.  Blessings, Friends!

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Please Pray, January 21, 2014

Posted next to my computer monitor is a gentle reminder that prayer is the primary strategy of our ministry. I need this reminder day by day. It is far easier, when I’m not being intentional, to formulate a strategy or initiate a campaign or write another email or letter. It is more humbling to admit that it is God who opens doors, enables connections to be made, who nourishes and protects and advances. Quiet prayer doesn’t stroke my ego so much as furious activity.

I’ve been writing today. I wrote a letter to include in receipts. I wrote an email circular to go out to those who have committed to pray for our ministry. I wrote an article on prayer that is elsewhere on this website. I’ve spent time in prayer over all these matters and I have found myself close to the end of my work day not having written this post. Just as I need a regular reminder to pray, I humbly submit this to you as a gentle reminder to pray . . .

As You Pray:

  • Ask God to grant wisdom and discernment each day. We need God’s gracious hand to be upon our ministry as we continue to build a prayer and provision team to under gird our ministry to the Body of Christ, to the Somau Garia people of Papua New Guinea (Bible translation), and to you.
  • Ask God to open doors that we might have divinely appointed opportunities to raise awareness about what God is doing around the world and that we might inspire some to become involved in missions. Pray also that God might use those appointments to provide financially for our ministry with Pioneer Bible Translators.
  • Ask God to continue to prepare us for a hoped-for return to Papua New Guinea in 2014.
  • Thank God for providing for our needs month-by-month.
  • Thank God for new prayer partners that have joined us recently.
  • Thank God for providing life-changing opportunities for our two oldest children, both sons.

Thank you for partnering with us in prayer! If you’d like to correspond with us you may do so by clicking here. Blessings!

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Day 37: Following Jesus into Rest

Of all the mistakes I’ve made in ministry, I believe one of the most damaging is that of not being purposeful about rest. Rest is far more than a lack of activity, just as peace is far more than a lack of apparent conflict.

Hebrews chapter 4 associates rest with a tender heart which is obedient to the Word of God. That tender, obedient heart is responsive to the voice of God in faith:

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:6-13, ESV

Lack of purposeful rest drives me certain directions I dare not go–if I am wise. Lack of purposeful rest points me down the path of disobedience, cauterizing my heart making it scarred, hardened, and senseless. Lack of purposeful rest all to often is driven by a dysfunctional narcissism, a desire to be at the center of things, of somehow having the satisfaction of having accomplished something according to my work. Just as Eve was deceived when the serpent contradicted to clear words of God regarding eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so too many of us are deceived by the notion that we will be “successful” in the Kingdom if we just work a little harder, put in more hours, get involved in everything, never let anything go by the wayside, never let it be said that we weren’t there.

I must strive to rest a godly rest–walking by faith, hearing and responding to his voice, remaining tender and obedient, resting from my work so that His work can be made complete in me. I must follow the example of Jesus.

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We frequently read of Jesus that he “went to a lonely place to pray” or “he took his disciples aside to rest.” He was purposeful about getting away, having uninterrupted seasons of prayer, of communing with His Father. He chose to rest when he could have been using that time to heal the sick, teach the ignorant, or proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven.

Part of our rest, friends, is that quiet worship where we voluntarily open ourselves to God and allow His word to penetrate, rearrange, and heal. We must be in His word and we must be in a receptive spiritual posture to find rest. All else is a frenetic chasing after the wind, trying to prove something to ourselves or others. All else hardens our hearts, tempting us to place our faith in ourselves and our work rather than in our heavenly Father.

Notice the role the Word of God has in providing genuine, life-transforming rest? I believe that part of the call has given Angela and me to return to Papua New Guinea is to be a catalyst for the heart transformation of many Somau Garia speaking people. Without the Word in their heart language, the possibility of that dwindles. Bible translation aids transformation.

Provide Rest for the Weary
Would you pray with us that I and Angela will learn to rest purposefully and properly? Would you pray with us that we will rest well with a view toward serving well that many Somau Garia will be transformed by the life-giving Word of God? Will you add provision to those prayers and partner with Pioneer Bible Translators in sending us out to Papua New Guinea to finish what was started? Click here to join us in praying. Click here to partner with us in providing for the needs of this ministry.

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face shine upon you and give you peace.

Blessings!

 

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Days 31 & 32: Pythons in the Path

Living in New Guinea has forever changed my walk.

Growing up, I suppose that the only time I really paid attention to how I (or anyone else) walked was when I was impressed with someone and wanted to imitate them. I remember in the early eighties when my brother returned from service in the Army. He had been taught to march properly, how to fight, how to be intimidating. He looked pretty spiffy in his dress uniform. I wanted him to teach me how to do push ups and PT and how to walk like a soldier. I even inherited a pair of his combat boots, which I wore to school. (This is the verbal equivalent of one of those old school pictures with over-sized glasses, acne, and big hair.)

He moved on and I grew up some. One summer I worked at the same factory as my Dad. At work Dad moved walked briskly, eyes ahead. No meandering. No loafing. It was different than at home, kind of inspiring. I packed a lunch like his, watched as he did his job; tried to be like him. He was a lot tougher than I. I lasted about a week and moved onto something really challenging: sacking groceries at a supermarket. Watching my Dad made its imprint all the same.

Then I was the Dad. I took my wife and two little boys to the second largest island in the world (next to Greenland). Gone were wide sidewalks and manicured paths through the woods I knew at state parks back home. We had arrived in the Land of the Unexpected. The paths here were steep, slick, narrow. Overgrowing them were vines, thorns, razor grass. Crawling over them were carpet pythons, scorpions, death adders, centipedes, tree pythons, and leaches. To walk these paths required a different gait, a different posture, fixing your eyes on your feet and the path, rather than the scenery all around. And that was only in the daytime.

When night fell, it was better just to not plan on walking away from central village areas. Occasionally it was necessary. In 2000, my friend Chris and I hiked throughout the length and breadth of two language areas, collecting word lists, writing observations, and trying to decide whether or not these folks were good candidates for placement of missionaries. What turned out to be the final day of the hike, we arose before sunrise and were hiking by six, eating and drinking on the trail. We were keen to get home that day and pushed hard, crossing three major mountain ridge lines and covering about 18 miles. In one day! (My one moment of glory.) We reached a village in the Somau Garia area about five in the afternoon, still needing to hike another three-and-a-half to four hours. Darkness fell.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

It’s hard to see snakes in the dark. Our Maglites put some light on the trail ahead. Better. We could now see movement in the brush. We could see wet, slippery spots in the trail. We could see the edges of the mountain. We could see the turn in the path. We could see all that we needed to see.

The Psalmist writes in 119:105:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

The lamp of the Word is a needful thing in a darkened world. The dark is teeming with  creatures intent upon stopping us in our tracks.

As a believer, I have two great resources (among others) to combat the world, the flesh, and the devil. First, Jesus himself claimed (John 14:6):

I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except by me.

His is an illuminated path, smooth and straight.

Second, I have the Word of God, as quoted above.

Many Somau Garia walk a darkened path, without God and without hope. Their resources are few to none. In their heart language, they have the Gospel According to Mark. Praise the Lord that this important piece of Scripture is available to them. Yet, it exists without the context that people depend so much upon to understand the whole counsel of Scripture. How will they overcome the darkness? How will they know the Way? How will they see ahead?

God has seen fit to send Angela and I back to Papua New Guinea to finish the task of translating at least the New Testament in the Somau Garia language. This is one sure way to provide at least the possibility that they might come into a life transforming relationship with the Father. I’d like to invite you to join with us in this great adventure.

Giving Light
If you’d like to join us in prayer for the transformation of the Somau Garia people, click here to drop me an email informing me of your commitment to pray along with us. If you’d like to partner with Pioneer Bible Translators in sending us out, click here to discover how you can donate to this vital work.

I’d like to leave you with a final thought or two. How has your walk been changed by the Word of God lighting your life? Do you allow the word to be a lamp for your feet and light for your path? How has the Word changed your walk?