Breakthrough for missionaries in PNG

By May 19, 2008

Papua New Guinea (MNN) —  A breakthrough in Papua New Guinea is exciting news for New Tribes Mission and a high time for their missionaries working there.

Going in, the missionaries knew it would be a challenge to present a more accurate Gospel to three language groups in the country. The groups had already been presented with
the Gospel in the national language. However, many of them don't entirely understand the language since they use it mostly for business and trading purposes. There are large gaps in their vocabulary.  Consequently, their understanding of the Gospel was that believers needed to keep the 10 Commandments and do enough good works to earn their way to heaven. 

Nita Zelenak of New Tribes Mission says many people in these tribes now clearly understand the Gospel. "This has been the culmination of probably five to six years of missionaries working and living amongst the group, learning their language and their culture so they could present the Gospel in their own mother tongue," she said.

The Inanbimali, Bagwido, and Dinangat tribes now have many true believers. In the past, their explanation of salvation included a list of good deeds. Today, testimonies sound more like this one from Peter: "Jesus carried my sin on that cross and died and rose again. There is no other way to God, only through Jesus. I am no longer going to the place of fire after I die. I am going to be with God. Why? Because of Jesus taking my sin payment, instead of me taking it and paying for it in the place of fire. Jesus is taking my place. No more will I be confused."

Or this one from Francisca: "I am on God's side.  I have no good inside of me, but Jesus.. took my place on the cross so that my sin is paid for."

This exciting time is also a challenging transitional period for missionaries doing follow-up with tribe members, said Zelenak.  "We have a number of them that firmly understand that, and yet, they are like new babies in the sense of ‘Ok, where do we go from here?' So the missionaries at this time are spending time one-on-one with different people in the village, making sure that they clearly understand the Gospel. For those who don't, they're there to clarify and give more answers."

Next week classes will begin for new believers and for those who are seeking more understanding. Sabe, who is still in the middle, said, "I look in your eyes and the eyes of others who say they had come to God's side and they are so happy. I have never been happy (truly stomach turning up happy) like that in my old way of thinking. I am still like that now. I have heard these stories and they make the most sense out of everything I have heard my whole life. But I just don't get it yet. I have so much trash in my head from the past many years, and it is blocking my inside thinking part from getting this talk clear. I want to get it so bad. I still feel dark inside… let's review again…"

There are two different tribes in Papua New Guinea who will soon begin hearing the Bible in their own language: Patpatar and Madak. Pray for those missionary teams who are preparing the lessons and those who will be taught.

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