“Wow!! It is the middle of May already!” It is easy for me to think these words as it is hard to believe that I have been in Papua New Guinea for four months now. This is the longest I have stayed overseas doing mission work since our family left East Africa six years ago. And I will be in PNG for two more months before I take a break and go home to Canada to be with family and friends.
There is no question that I have been “staying busy” since I landed in Madang in January. Or as some might say, I have been “staying out of trouble”. J I am sure that the people who have been regularly reading my articles here on The Listening Post have noticed that I have slowed down on the number of articles I have written. For over two years, I was posting three articles a week. Then by the New Year it went to two articles. Now I hope to post one new article each week, probably on each Thursday.
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“So what has kept me so busy?” you ask. Let me tell you about the wonderful things that God has done and is doing in and through my life. First though, let me remind you and any new readers as to why it is so amazing that I am very active right now in PNG. The short story is that an illness flared up in my life back in 2008, a genetically inherited disease called Mitochondrial Myopathy, that impacted me to the point of forcing me to use walking poles or arm support crutches to walk around even very short distances, like 100 yards.
My life changed drastically at that point, having just come back from PNG and having to run through the airport to catch my next plane. But just as dramatically, and in a positive way, I am now walking around our mission office over here in Madang without any difficulties, and have even been able to walk a couple of blocks down to a supply store, without needing to use any support device whatsoever.
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“So what brought this about?” you ask. Two important things: the power of God, and the power of prayer. In July of last year (2012), Jill and I had travelled down to the Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada to speak in three churches and to tell them about the mission work we do each year when we visit PNG for a couple of months. It was exciting to share with them about the great work that God is doing through the ministry of Bible translation among the people groups of this tropical Pacific island.
When I was finished preaching and ready to leave the pulpit to go sit down in the audience, the pastor or elders of these three churches stopped me and said they wanted to pray for our work and for my health. (Oh, and by the way, I normally could only stand up to speak for about 25 minutes, but these churches let me speak for almost 40 minutes straight. And I found I didn’t even need to hold on to the pulpit for support.)
So these church leaders asked me to stay at the front and had Jill come forward so that they could pray for us. What was so cool was that in each of these churches, they felt very strongly prompted to call all the elders up and to lay hands on us and to specifically ask of God to bring healing into my life. And guess what? Within days, I found I was able to walk around a little more than before, and with less and less dependence upon my poles and crutches. Hallelujah!! Praise the Lord!!! J
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Jill and I were certainly overjoyed to see this reversal of my symptoms, which doctors have been telling me would not happen. But what doctors forget or do not recognize, is that we have the Great Physician on our side, and nothing is impossible for God. The real question for us last summer was, “So what does God have in store for us, seeing as He is returning good health to Norm after not being able to walk much for four years.”
It was just after this time that I began to have correspondence with some of our mission leaders and those over in Papua New Guinea who were considering who they might recommend to be the various directors for our PNG Branch. After a period of praying, I wrote and said that perhaps I could help out in the short-term until others were ready for leadership or were back from their time of furlough in the States.
To my surprise, the committee came back and asked me to consider letting my name stand to be nominated for the position of “Director of Language Affairs” (DLA). Wow!! What an honor that was, and at first we did not know if we should have me say “Yes”. It would mean spending much more time in PNG than the three months per year I was doing. And it would also mean that Jill and I would have some periods of being apart, seeing as Jill is still working as a nurse in a hospital back in Calgary.
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Convinced that this was from God though, we did say “Yes,” to the nomination. And in less than a week after I came to PNG in January, our Branch held their annual meeting and I was voted in to be their DLA for the next two years. Woo Hoo!!! The official date for the transfer of office would not be until May 1st. But that was not the only thing I would be doing, preparing to become the DLA, which would keep me busy for four months. Next article I will tell you what one of my exciting tasks is that keeps bringing me back to PNG.