Monday, November 29, 2010

Grieving Jackson

It's been 6 weeks since his sudden and violent death, and yesterday the body of young Jackson Willy was finally sent some 600 km north and $1000.00 Cdn/Aus dollars later to be buried on his parent’s traditional land. As is always the case, it forced a kind of crisis of cultures on me (Ian) when I was again asked to lead their funeral service or haus krai (house cry). In the West death is too sanitary, too hidden. Generally speaking in the South it is too exposed, too raw…or maybe just real. The painted faces and bodies with coloured clay, the heart-wrenching wailing, the great cacophony of groans and shrieks, the sense that I am invading a nuclear family’s last respects (even though the family is 150 large), the throwing of dirt and hands and limbs and not to mention the body beginning the decaying process, left me trying to find my cultural-bearings. What am I to do here? I did what Christ has called me to do: I opened His Word and preached from Lamentations 3:16-29, trying to pour out the rich promises of the Scriptures in the face of death and challenged them to look for the reason for hope in the face of death and sin--Jesus Christ. Sadly, many of the ones who were wailing, in what seemed to be in utter despair, only moved a few houses down and kept on going as I preached. After the ‘service’ we sang, “How great thou art’ in Pidgin and the body was trucked away to the airport. I pray some found hope in the solid reality that Christ has risen victoriously over death.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Soccer Time

PS. It was a close call, but Karlyn and Mommy's team won!
PPS. Thanks for the nets, Uncle Tim!...and the ball!

Prayer for a Young Family

This is Jason, Sandy and their little son, Hansley.

They are a young family from our church--and young in their faith too, you could say. Neither of them were raised with Christian parents, but they both want to serve the Lord now, and Sandy's mother also is a member of our church now. They've been married for almost a year, although their relationship did start out on rocky ground. It hasn't been easy for them as their families do not completely approve of their union either. And to complicate matters, they live with her parents, with his parents living very close by in the settlement.

The past few months, Ian and I have been meeting with them regularly to talk about what the Bible says about marriage and family life. In the middle of all of this, they had an argument and both of their mothers got involved (which made matters worse), and they were separated for a short time. Thankfully, they are back together now, but we know that it will take a lot of prayer and the power of the Spirit to keep this young family together and enable them to have a strong family and marriage in the Lord.

Their son is a precious little guy and is of course the one caught in the middle when his parents and grandparents don't get along. We pray that the Lord will guard and keep him and that he will grow up to know and love His maker.

We share all of this with you to simply ask you to remember them in prayer.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Graduation Time

Ian travelled to Port Moresby last week to attend the graduation at the Reformed Churches' Bible College.There were 9 graduates who received a Diploma in Reformed Studies. Three of them are students from Lae, and the two men would like to continue on in their studies and next year begin the three year Diploma program to hopefully become Pastors one day.
The graduating class singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
PNGers love to share stories through drama.
This is Gami, one of the students from Lae. She is a strong woman of the faith and a good leader amongst the women. She shared some words of thanks, especially for the wives of the missionaries (Rita Versteeg, Odette Douma, Cheronne VanderHeide and Sjannette Hagoort) for their tireless work in supporting the students and the college in countless ways.
Here is Jerry Isaac, also one of the students from Lae, as he receives his certificate from Pastor Henry Versteeg with Principal Wayne VanderHeide in the background.
As a representative of the Board of the College, Ian shared a message on Hebrews 13:13--being willing to go outside the camp and bear the disgrace Christ bore.
We praise God for the Bible College. It is still incredible to us that God raised up this Bible College in a few short years and we are so thankful for this place where the Word is taught boldly and clearly and in truth.

One student shared this testimony: before attending the College, the Bible was just like any other book to him. But through his studies, the Lord showed him that it is the Book of Life!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Supporting Yuanna

This morning, we gathered for Bible Study as we usually do, except instead of meeting at the church, we gathered at the home of Jackson's parents, Yuanna and Willy. Jackson, as you may remember from a couple posts ago, was a young man from Biwat Settlement who was murdered just over 3 weeks ago. Since that time, the women from our church, many of whom are related to Jackson's family, have gone every Tuesday morning to be with Jackson's mother Yuanna---to support her and encourage her, sing with her and pray with her.

The young men who they suspect of killing him were taken into custody by the police, however about a week later were let out on bail. Now they are back to getting drunk and causing trouble in the settlement, including attempting to fight with Jackson's family several times. Their quick release is thanks to the 'wantok system', I was told. A 'wantok' is someone who speaks the same language as you, meaning they are from the same area or village. Here in PNG if one of your wantoks needs help, you are obligated to help out. If you don't, there will be no one to help you when you need it. So these young men are out and free to do as they please again. Jackson's family does not want to fight with them, but they would like some compensation money for his death, also to help transport his body back to their village to be buried.

So in addition to grieving the loss of their son, Yuanna and Willy are dealing with an unjust justice system and these young troublemakers who are seemingly showing no remorse for what they did. Yuanna and Willy are bearing a great burden right now, and greatly need our prayers. Only the Lord can get them through this.

It was beautiful to witness Mary, a woman from our Bible Study who had never met Yuanna before, cry with her and hold her in an embrace for a long time. Mary comes across as quite a tough woman; stern-faced and rough, but obviously there is a tender heart on the inside.

Please continue to pray with us for Yuanna and Willy and our justice system, which has failed them miserably. Thankfully, The Judge is acutely aware of all this injustice, and is full of grace and mercy to those who humbly come to Him in faith in their time of need.