Conversation:

“I hear you had a bad night.”

“No, we had a great night.”

“And I hear that you can’t walk very much.”

“That’s true.”

“But I heard that you led a presentation last night and you were walking all over the Activity Center and then you were in so much pain that you needed help to get back to your room.  Wouldn’t you say that you had a bad night?”

“Your facts are right, but your conclusion is wrong.  Let me explain….”

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At the moment that I am writing this, the 35th annual Pioneer Mission Institute (PMI) is half way through its week-long sessions.  And you’re probably saying, “What is this PMI?”  Good question.  For three and a half decades, our mission (Pioneer Bible Translators) has invited people who are interested in this Bible translation ministry to gather for orientation and exposure to what this ministry is all about.

We hold two levels of classes for adults as well as run full child care and a children’s program.  Any adult who would like to know more about PBT will attend the “Discovery” track of sessions.  This includes learning about Bible translation, literacy, support role ministries, hearing about “Life On the Field” and exposure to the various countries where we work.  I have been helping teach the linguistic sessions.

After attending “Discovery” in a previous year or on a Bible college campus, returning students attend the “Orientation” seminars.  These include sessions that help them prepare for going to the field, being able to contextualize the Gospel, learning how to deepen their spiritual walk, and further exposure to the work around the world that is being done by PBT.

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Being a long-time missionary with PBT, I have worked and prayed along with many others that we would continue to find new people who would also desire to see the Bible be translated and be made available to those who do not yet have it in their mother tongue, the language of their heart.

And being a member of our Papua New Guinea Branch of PBT, it has been my hope and prayer that we would be able to recruit some new people for this Branch.  So about a month ago, I had an email dialog with the Acting Director of the PNG Branch, and also with the Area Director of the Pacific Rim.  We came up with the idea of having an invitation to go out for some ice cream with those who would like to hear about PNG and talk informally with them.

This idea caught on and the leadership in Dallas supported this and helped to announce this event for Tuesday night.  The one concern was to work out transportation for the 15 or so people we expected to show up.  So one person thought, “Why not stay on the Linguistic Center and bring the ice cream to the people.”  Brilliant.  So at the afternoon chapel, we asked for a show of hands of those thinking of coming, and over 30 hands went up.  YIKES!

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Wow!! God was stirring the hearts of many people to come hear about translation work in PNG and its neighboring countries.  We had a little problem on our hands, but it was a good problem.  What to do now?  Well, I quickly got the attention of one of the Staff and asked if we could use the Activity Center.  He made a call and someone had approved that.  Then I asked the man running sound and tech stuff if we could get a person to help as we pulled a media presentation together.  He said he would come back and run the boards himself.

Then we phoned the Area Director and said, “GET MORE ICE CREAM!!”  Over a hasty supper meeting, I talked with the Acting Director, the Branch Missionary Care person, and another PNG missionary who had finished their project.  I asked permission to be the emcee and I quickly made suggestions as to how each person could contribute.

And it was wonderful!  Everyone pitched in with only about an hour notice and we were ready to run a major presentation in the hopes to interest some of the people attending this PMI to consider coming to our region of the world as new missionaries.  Our PNG Branch has some wonderful people, but we have been needing some new blood for quite a while now.  (Praise God, four new people have just started there earlier this year.)

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When the time came to start our event, I was overcome with excitement and amazement.  Including all those helping to do the presentation, there were 55 people in the room.  Hallelujah!!  God is stirring in the hearts of these people.  And then, for an hour and a half, God gave me the strength to emcee the program, to walk around the room, to tell gripping emotional stories about life in PNG, and not experience pain or fatigue.

This is a small miracle in itself.  I had already had a busy day, which usually will wipe out my energy and lead to pain and fatigue.  But for four hours, from the time the people put their hands up until the end of the program, God energized my body, gave clarity of mind, loosened my muscles, and spoke through my mouth.  Only by the power of God could this ever be possible.

And then when it was finished, so was I.  There I was, sitting in a chair at the front, and not being able to move my right arm or leg.  My energy bank was depleted.  And that is why I needed two men to help me get back to my room and help me get into bed.  So was that a bad night?  Certainly not!!  God used me for a very important purpose, to expand His Kingdom work and find others who share that passion.  By morning I would regain my strength, but through the night, I was filled with His joy.

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