Posts Tagged With: Prayer

your prayers kicked in

The wall of humidity hit us as we stepped off the plane in the capital of Papua New Guinea. We made our way down long corridors and a few ramps to be funneled into the lines for immigration. Getting a visa for my sister Diana took place without a hitch, and our multi-year visas were still good, so we sailed through that part of entering PNG pretty quickly.

It took quite a while for our suitcases to come through on the conveyor belt, since all the luggage from all the international flights were coming to one small carousel. Our bags retrieved, we waited in line for customs. “This is the part where they decide whether or not to let your stuff into the country,” I explained to my sister. Her customs form showed that she had nothing to declare, so she got waved on through while we were pulled aside to have our bags checked.

“Your form says you have items to declare that are new and exceed 1,000 Kina in total value,” the customs official stated. “What are those new items?” We started to list off the things we’d purchased in the US to bring back to PNG. “It’s things for our house, not for resale,” we assured her. When we got to the part of the list that mentioned the laptops we’d picked up to replace our dead and dying computers, her eyes lit up.

“What kind of laptops? Are they Apple?”

“One is made by Dell, the other one is Apple.” We showed them to her, explaining that we use the computers for learning the language of the tribal people we work with.

“How much did you pay for the Apple computer?” She called a fellow customs official over and they began mentally calculating how much to charge us for the laptop we were bringing into the country. Any new items brought into PNG are susceptible to a tax of 10% of the item’s value. While that tax was designed primarily for businesses importing goods, it affects incoming travelers with new items, too. Whether you were charged or not depended on the customs official and their assessment of your situation.

“When did you buy it?” she asked.

“As soon as we went to America. That was four months ago.” I braced myself for hearing the total they’d settled on.

Then, I saw it. And I felt it. Your prayers kicked in. “Just leave it, let them through,” the official she’d called over said. “Yeah, it’s alright. You can just go on through,” our customs lady said.

Stunned, but not wanting to give her a chance to change her mind, we grabbed our suitcases and headed for the door. We swerved to avoid colliding with suitcases that skidded across the floor as they came off the x-ray machine. Then we were around the corner and out in the airport lobby where Diana waited for us.

“Someone was definitely praying for us,” I said to Josiah. “That almost ended totally differently. We almost had to pay.” Thank you, God.

I don’t know who of you to thank for praying at midnight (CDT) on Sunday night, but whoever you are, thank you. Thank you for responding to God’s prompting to pray for us. Thank you for walking with us on this journey, for standing in the gap on our behalf. Ever wonder if your part matters? We don’t. We can feel it when your prayers kick in.

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10 ways to encourage a missionary

  1. Pray for them. And I don’t mean saying, “God bless the missionaries, wherever they are” at a meal now and then. I mean, really PRAY for them. They face the same daily struggles as you, with the added stress of being in a cross-cultural context. They face isolation and loneliness. They get discouraged and feel forgotten. Pray for their spiritual, mental, emotional, and relational struggles, not just for their health or safety.
  2. Write them an email. Let them know you are praying. Don’t just write when you hear from them. Write them out of the blue, and let them know you are thinking of them and you care about them.
  3. Call or skype them. Find out what the time difference is, find out a way to get in touch with them via phone or internet calling, and do it! Call them and tell them you are praying for them (if you actually are). Ask how they are really doing, and…
  4. Listen. Hear what they’re saying. Hear what they’re not saying. Find out how life is really going, and what things they can’t write in a prayer letter. Listen to their stories and put yourself in their shoes. How are they feeling? What’s really hard for them right now? What are they excited about? Ask questions to draw them out. Let them process life. And listen.
  5. Send a video message to encourage them. Video yourself and/or other people sharing an encouraging Bible passage, praying for them, or telling them how much you miss them and love them. It’s the closest thing to a long-distance hug. (If they don’t have internet access, put the video on a flash drive and mail it to them).
  6. Send them a package. Find out what things they miss, what things ship well, and what would just tickle their hearts to see in a beat-up cardboard box on the other side of the world.
  7. Visit them. Fly (or drive) to where they are, and get a glimpse into their world. Don’t take a dozen people and try to do a huge project (unless they’ve asked you to), go with your family or a few friends and just go to encourage them. Seeing what life is like for them on a day-to-day basis will not only expand your world, it will help you know how to better pray for them and encourage them.
  8. Give them a break. Send them on a vacation. When they’re on furlough, offer to watch their kids and pay for them to go on a date. Encourage them to rest. Try to lighten their load.
  9. Help with practical needs. The possibilities of how to do this are endless. Use your skills and gifts to help them in really tangible ways. Help them with computer problems. Offer to help them put together their update video or PowerPoint. Provide housing while they’re on furlough. Help them find a vehicle to use for furlough. Babysit for them. Help them set up their appointments with churches and other supporters. Fill their car with gas. Wash their car. Help them set up doctor and dentist appointments. Get school supplies for their kids. Buy them groceries.
  10. Advocate for them. Encourage other people to get involved in their lives and ministry. Recruit other people to pray for them. Challenge others to support them regularly. Find out what needs they have, and get your friends and family involved in meeting those needs.
  11. (BONUS) Walk with God. One of the most encouraging things for a missionary to see is someone who is passionately following God. Your enthusiasm and commitment to being a part of what God is doing will be contagious and refreshing. And, chances are, if you’re walking with God, when He puts it on your heart to encourage a missionary, you’ll hear Him. And do it.

If you have more ideas that you’ve seen work well to encourage missionaries, share them below in a comment!

 

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One little piece of God’s big plan

It started long before January 2013, but that’s when we first discovered the role God would have for us in His story, so that’s where I’ll start. Josiah got an email explaining that there were Mouk believers in Papua New Guinea who had started an outreach to a neighboring people group on their island (the island of New Britain). Having evaluated their skills and giftings, they knew they would be able to teach literacy, develop and teach chronological Bible lessons, present the Gospel, and disciple the believers in this outreach. But there was no Scripture available in that language (as is the case for the majority of Papua New Guinea’s 850 people groups), and these Mouk believers knew they lacked the education and resources to be able to translate God’s Word for that people group. So they asked for a Western missionary who could join their team and do the translation. And that request got passed along and was now in an email in front of us.

We were dating at the time, but we already knew God’s plan was to join our paths and send us to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to spread His glory among the unreached there. We were both in training with New Tribes Mission to become cross-cultural church planters. We had been praying about what God might have for us in the future…was this email part of His answer? We began praying about it. Josiah had been dreaming of working in partnership with PNG believers ever since he was a kid. God had directed Rachel into Bible translation since she was 16. Both our hearts longed to be a part of helping PNG believers reach out to neighboring people groups to make disciples and plant churches. This opportunity to join the Mouk believers in their outreach seemed tailor-made for us.

We were planning to visit PNG that summer so I (Rachel) could meet Josiah’s family, who serve as missionaries there on that island of New Britain. God worked things out so that during that summer trip we were able to make a short visit to see these Mouk believers and talk to them about this opportunity to partner with them in reaching another people group. We couldn’t make any promises, we told them, but we would keep praying about this. We still had a long ways to go before we would be able to come back to PNG as full-time missionaries.

Fast forward three years. We’ve gotten married, finished our training with New Tribes, seen God raise up an incredible team of people to send us with love, prayers and finances, and arrived in PNG as career missionaries. We have completed our orientation to the PNG national language and culture and our 3 month bush orientation. We’re now ready to get officially plugged in to what God is doing here in Papua New Guinea. Through every step along the way, God has continued to point us in the direction of partnering with an existing tribal church in PNG to take the Good News to a neighboring people group.

Josiah with some of our future Mouk coworkers

Josiah with some of our future Mouk coworkers

So a few weeks ago, we flew into Mouk to meet with the Mouk church leaders and some of the believers who have initiated this outreach to another people group. We were trusting that this trip would just confirm to us and the Mouk that God was still leading us to partner together, and that’s exactly what happened. Read more about our trip to Mouk.

Our next step is to move into Mouk and spend a year or two learning their language and culture, as this is crucial to good communication and effective teamwork. So we’re gathering materials for building a small house in Mouk and gearing up for diving into full-time language learning sometime in August. We’re excited to join hands with these solid believers whose hearts beat with God’s heart for the world to know HIM. What God has been doing among the Mouk started before we were born, and we are thrilled and humbled that He’s now allowing us to have a small part in what He’s doing in and through this passionate band of believers in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.

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the battle

On Saturday morning at 2:15am we received a reminder of the battle we’re in. We had stayed up til midnight talking with my brother and his wife, then went downstairs to stuff some last minute things in our bags, get some packages ready to mail, and then climbed in bed around 2am. We were talking about the next morning, what time to get up, what we still needed to do, and then – *beep, beep, beep, beep…*

Our car alarm was going off. Josiah jumped up, grabbed his flashlight and car keys, and sprinted outside, trying to shut the alarm off before we woke up the whole neighborhood. He got to the car, turned the alarm off, and then it hit him — he was looking at broken glass. The whole bottom section of our driver’s window was smashed. Startled, he looked around to see who could have done it. There was no one in sight. No one running up the street. Nothing.

He came and got me, we looked around with flashlights, couldn’t see anyone or anything that looked out of place. We called the police, and a few minutes later, an officer came, took pictures, looked at everything, asked us a bunch of questions, checked for fingerprints, and then saw something on the other side of the yard.

"Do you know anything about this?" he asked. It was a trolley — like a cart for hauling lots of boxes at once. It was lying about 20 feet away from our car in the side lawn of my brother’s house. We hadn’t seen it there before when we had loaded our totes into the car about 2 hours earlier. We found out later that it had been stolen from a neighbor’s shed. From the looks of the car window, the cart had been used to smash the bottom section of our window. The one print the officer found on our car looked like whoever had done it had worn a glove.

From all appearances, this had been planned. Someone had stolen the trolley, worn gloves, smashed the bottom portion of our driver’s window, and — had God not stopped him at this point — appeared to have been planning to use the cart to haul off the totes and guitar we had just put in the car that night.

Despite the fact that it was now 3 in the morning, we were both wide awake. After the officer left, we carefully unloaded the car, pulled the rest of the smashed glass out of the window and car, wrapped the door in a tarp, and locked the car back up. All the while, the two main thoughts going through both our heads were "thank you, God, for protecting us" and "this is a spiritual war."

Not for a minute did we think this somehow meant God didn’t want us to go to Papua New Guinea. Instead, this incident only confirmed in our minds and hearts that God indeed wants us to go PNG now. But the enemy of our souls also knows we’re going to Papua New Guinea, and he is fighting tooth and nail to keep us from going, or at least trying to discourage us. We realized once again that we are in a battle, not against flesh and blood, but against powers and authorities, rulers, and principalities, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12) And the struggle isn’t going to get any easier the closer we get to stepping onto PNG soil. The enemy has held many of the people groups in PNG in spiritual darkness and bondage for centuries, and he is not about to give up without a fight.

So, brothers and sisters, fellow soldiers in this struggle, please pray for us. Pray for us to put on the whole armor of God. Pray for us to stand firm in the midst of struggles, opposition, and discouragements. We can’t be here without you. I can’t say enough how vital your prayers are in helping us get to PNG and stay there. Please, please, please pray for us. Pray that no matter how hard things get, no matter what the obstacles, that we would be able to stand strong in this battle and that God would get the glory.

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top 10 things I think I’ll miss

We are leaving the United States on July 15! In honor of our departure, here is a list of 10 things I think I (Rachel) will miss when we’re in Papua New Guinea. I’m hoping to write a similar post a few months from now when we’re in PNG, and compare what I thought I would miss with what I actually do end up missing. So, here’s my “top 10 things I think I’ll miss” list:

  1. my family
  2. being there for family events (graduations, marriages, births, etc)
  3. taking road trips (yes, even though we spent the last 8 months traveling, I still love road trips, and I’ll miss being able to just hop in the car and drive somewhere)
  4. going to church in English
  5. being able to communicate easily with people via email, phone, etc
  6. our ministry partners and friends (we have built a lot of great relationships over the last 8 months, and won’t get to see you for several years)
  7. the privacy of not having everyone stare, point, laugh, etc every time I go out in public (here I blend in, there I will stick out as a tall, white female)
  8. 50 degree weather and 4 seasons (in PNG the average temp is 70-90 degrees, and there are two seasons: rainy season, and dry season)
  9. Food – I will spare you the complete list of all the foods I will miss — it’s a long one — but the top two restaurants I will miss will be Bojangles (Cajun fillet biscuits and sweet tea!) and Braum’s (two words: ICE CREAM!)
  10. Internet access – I think I’ll miss being able to look things up online if I need to, or having Skype, or being able to buy things online.

I know some of these things may seem very shallow or superficial, but these are things I honestly think I will be hard to be away from. So whenever you get on the internet, or drink sweet tea, or go to your family member’s graduation, you can think of me, and pray that God will help me adjust to living in Papua New Guinea. 🙂

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paperwork

“I’m sorry, but according to our records, you still haven’t received approval for your visas,” the lady from the Papua New Guinea embassy explained. This was the third time I’d called to check on the status of our visas. The New Tribes missionaries in Papua New Guinea who were helping us with our paperwork had applied for approval for our visas in mid-March, and we’d applied for our visas through the PNG embassy in Washington, D.C. at the end of April. “Usually,” we were told, “the process only takes 15 business days”. It had been two months. What was the hold up? We kept waiting, kept praying. Our faithful prayer warriors were on their knees for us, asking God to grant us our visas soon. And then we checked the mail. We were looking for some packages that had items we needed to pack for Papua New Guinea. When we picked up our stack of packages, however, there was a white priority mail envelope in the stack. We opened it, peeked inside, and there they were. Our passports, with the visas stamped inside them! We had been so busy packing and getting ready to leave for Papua New Guinea. And then out of the blue, God provided our visas when we were least expecting it! Praise Him! Now that we have both our Papua New Guinea work permits, and our PNG visas, we are essentially done with our paperwork!

Josiah & Rachel with PNG Visas blurred

We have our visas!

So what’s left to do?

  • we need to set up our retirement and get some stuff ready to ship to PNG
  • we need to clean our email list (fix email addresses that have bounced, etc)
  • we need 19% more monthly support ($1,172)
  • then we can buy our plane tickets
  • then there’s some paperwork to fill out for New Tribes Mission
  • we have some last minute details to work out (canceling phone plan and car insurance)
  • pack our carry-ons
  • say goodbye and board the plane!

Thank you so much for praying for us over these past several months. Please keep praying for us in these last 4 weeks in the United States!

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Hold the Ropes!!

On January 19, 1888, the old historic Knox Church was filled to capacity.  [At the Goforths’ farewell meeting], one particularly memorable story was told there of a young couple bidding farewell to their home church as they were about to leave for an African field known as “The White Man’s Grave.”  The husband said , “My wife and I have a strange dread in going.  We feel much as if we were going down into a pit.  We are willing to take the risk and to go if you, our home circle, will promise to hold the ropes.”  One and all promised.

Less than two years passed when the wife and the little one God had given them succumbed to the dreaded fever.  Soon the husband realized his days too were numbered.  Not waiting to send word home of his coming, he started back at once and arrived at the hour of the Wednesday prayer meeting.  He slipped in unnoticed, taking a back seat.  At the close of the meeting he went forward.  An awe came over the people, for death was written on his face.  He said:

https://i0.wp.com/www.tuttolevangelo.com/images/jonathan__goforth.jpg“I am your missionary.  My wife and child are buried in Africa and I have come home to die.  This evening I listened anxiously, as you prayed, for some mention of your missionary to see if you were keeping  your promise, but in vain!  You prayed for everything connected with yourselves and your home church, but you forgot your missionary.  I see now why I am a failure as a missionary.  It is because you have failed to hold the ropes!”

–From Jonathan Goforth, by Rosalind Goforth in the Men of Faith series.  P.36,37

 

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