Typical Week For A Missionary

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A “Jack-of-all-trades” Missionary

In the technological world that we live in today, it is considered quite normal to become highly specialized in our vocational field.  This can be said about us who are Bible translators, or should I say Linguists.  We often come to the field with Master’s degrees in linguistics or Biblical studies, or both.  As you will see below in the update sent by a colleague of ours from Pioneer Bible Translators, knowing and working with biblical and foreign languages is a major part of our work.

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In our last newsletter, my wife told you what a typical day/week looks like for her and this month it is my turn. Like her, every day looks a little different and every week looks much different than the previous. I will first tell you what my office time looks like, then what a week looks like when I travel, and finally what I fill my other time with.

When I am in the office, I am doing a variety of things, but two main things. The first is looking over the biblical passages that I will check with the translators so that when I go to visit them I am prepared with notes of things to talk about. The second is continuing to learn Swahili. I do this by reviewing vocabulary and doing a word for word translation of the Swahili Bible to understand both more vocabulary and grammar.

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There have been multiple trips where I have gone to a nearby town to help one of the translation projects I am responsible for helping. When I am there, the main thing we do is go over Scriptures they have translated and compare them by looking at the Greek Scriptures and notes I have made before hand. The goal of our time together is to get the meaning of the Scriptures accurately translated into their language. Also when I have been in this town, I have had the privilege of being able to distribute Scripture portions and so far that has been my favorite part of making the trips to this town.

As far as what fills my other time, the list seems quite endless at times. I love doing anything which helps with getting the Scriptures into peoples’ hands and hopefully their hearts. Right now this means passing out Scriptures, talking to as many people as I can about what we are doing—whether it be pastors or people I meet every day. In addition to this we are planning many other things such as: showing Jesus Films, starting Bible reading groups, putting recorded Scriptures on the radio and so much more.

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[Editor’s Note:  We see above how the translation work being done in the office does not stay there but is taken out into “the highways and byways” as the Bible puts it.  We do not want to produce a Bible translation and simply put it on the shelf when we are finished.  Our goal is not just to translate the Bible, but to get the Bible into the hands of the people to see their lives transformed.]

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For any of you who know me well, you know that I like doing things with my hands. This means I constantly have projects I am doing around the house, and at one time my list was three pages long. Whether it is repairing doors, fixing cabinets, plumbing and electricity problems, hanging curtains for my wife, digging holes for trash, the list is quite unique and I can always find something to do around the house.

Also I have had fun doing things with my hands for others that has included: building shelves, making an oven out of dirt, sand, straw and water (this was a lot of fun), scraping and painting ceilings, prepping walls for paint, and a variety of other things. Recently I have become more involved with building a church in a nearby village (thanks in large part to the generosity of a VBS group back home).

So as you can tell it is very hard for me to describe what a typical day/week looks like for me. Hopefully this gives you a little bit of an idea of what consumes my time. I love being here and I feel so honored to be serving in so many different ways. Thanks for being a part of our ministry here.  Without you, none of this would be possible.

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I can totally identify with my friend on how many other kinds of things a translator can get himself involved with.  Even though our specialized training is to do Bible exegesis and translation, there are always so many other things that need our attention, whether we live in a large city or in a remote village.

In fact, the old concept that a missionary needs to be a “Jack-of-all-trades” is still true today.  When we lived in our village, I learned a whole lot about plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, small engine mechanics and so much more.  That’s just life on the field.

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That is why we are constantly asking people who have these trade skills to consider coming over to the mission field to help out in these areas.  Just think how much more attention we can give to our translation projects if we don’t have to stop and fix our car or repair our houses.

So for anyone who is reading this article, if God gave you the knowledge and skill to do these other support work activities, we would sure like to hear from you.  Perhaps God is calling you to the mission field.  You never know.  But God will bless you and reward you with great experiences, and what you do can help us concentrate on getting God’s Word out to the nations.

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Jesus Is Someone You Can Trust – Pt. 1

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“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 7

TRUST: “A relationship bond that takes a great number of good deeds to earn, and only one bad deed to lose.”

Trust!  Who do we trust these days?  We trust a mechanic to fix our car when it is not working.  Or do we?  Are we skeptical when we see the estimate and wonder, “Do I really need to fix all these things?”  We trust the professor of a class to impart wisdom and knowledge to us, right?  But what if they are wrong, or biased in what they teach?  We trust the pastor or the priest because they are “men of God”, but then we hear about the various scandals that rock the churches and we realize that they are just as human and flawed as we are.

All of us can identify with this question of “Who can I really trust?”  In the consumer market world that we live in, we are bombarded by advertisements and the voices of many who are asking us to trust them, and trust the product or service that they are trying to offer us.  Now for the most part, these many voices are asking us to make decisions that are somewhat trivial, like what shampoo to buy, and where to take our vacation, etc.

But what about the really important questions of life?  For example, “Why are we here?”, “Is there a God?”, and “What happens after we die?”  These are the questions that really matter in life, and so we must be careful as we choose whose voice to listen to regarding eternal and spiritual questions.  There are still many voices out there crying for our attention, but one voice above all must be given a chance to be heard.  And that is the voice and the words of Jesus in the New Testament.

    

 This is now the 7th article in this series, “GOD’S STORY, your story” as we look at the book with this title written by Max Lucado.  In chapter four, Lucado starts by sharing a true story about a pilot of a small aircraft who had a mild stroke while flying and lost his sight.  An air force jet pilot was sent up to help guide the man down on to an airstrip by voice alone.  It took eight attempts, but the blinded pilot was able to safely land his airplane.  How did he do it?  By listening carefully to the voice of the man who he literally had put his life into his hands.

Now many good things are said about Jesus.  Many say he was a good man who helped others.  They would say that Jesus is one of the best teachers of morals and ethics.  Look at the “Sermon on the Mount” for example in Matthew chapters 5-7.  Some world religions other than Christianity would even say that Jesus is one of their prophets.  This is not new, for even in Jesus’ day there were people saying that Jesus was perhaps Elijah or John the Baptist come back from the dead, or another great prophet.  (Matthew 16:13-15)

But Jesus challenged his disciples even more (and us today) when he asked the question, “But who do you say that I am?”  And to answer that for ourselves today, we would need to look very carefully at what Jesus did and said so long ago.  Certainly we notice, even in just a casual reading, that Jesus was one who performed great miracles.  He healed many people.  In fact, he made the blind to see again, the lame could walk, and even those who had died and were buried were raised back to life.  (Read 11:38 – 12:11 and notice how even Jesus’ enemies admitted that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.)

    

Now follow along with what Lucado says about Jesus on pages 72-73:

Jesus commanded people to pray in his name (John 14:13-14).  He claimed to be greater than the temple (Matthew 12:6), greater than the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8).  He claimed his words would outlive heaven and earth (Mark 13:31) and that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him (Matthew 28:18-20).

And what about his “I AM” statements?  “I am the light of the world.”  “I am the bread of life,” “the resurrection and the life,” and “the way, the truth, and the life.”  And most stunning, “Before Abraham was born, I am!”

By claiming the “I AM” title, Jesus was equating himself with God.

 It is interesting how some people can be okay with Jesus being a good moral teacher, and maybe even credit him with the ability to perform miracles.  But when we look at the verbal claims made by Jesus, we are faced with two stunning and opposite choices.  Either Jesus was an egomaniac and delusionally deranged!  Or, Jesus was who he actually claimed to be, namely, the very Son of God come down to live among people.

    

Given these two choices, I have chosen to believe that Jesus is God’s Son.  And not just because he “claimed” to be God’s Son, and not even because he did perform some great miracles.  I rest my faith in Jesus ultimately on the fact that he rose again from the dead after being crucified on a cross.  There is just too much proof in the New Testament that this event of Jesus’ resurrection was not a hoax, or just a misunderstanding of his physical condition.  No, Jesus rose from the grave and proved himself to be God in the flesh.

And so, when it comes to the question of who do I ultimately trust with my life and my eternal future?  There is only one really excellent choice, and that is to trust in Jesus.  We may not be able to see into our future (like not seeing the runway), but Jesus will safely guide us to our eternal destination.

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

Jesus, Giver of Living Water

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John 4:1 – 15

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman – Pt. 1

4 1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 

11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

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The event of Jesus and his conversation with the woman from Samaria is perhaps one of the richest stories in the Gospel of John, and one of my own personal favourites.  There are so many interesting details just in the background to this story, in addition to the deep spiritual truths that come out in this dialog.  To paraphrase a saying, “So much story, and so little space to write about it.”

The complete details of this event are given to us in verses 1-42 of chapter four.  But there are four distinct subsections to this story.  Three of the sections deal with Jesus and the woman from Sychar in the District of Samaria.  The fourth section consists of a dialog between Jesus and his disciples and interrupts the story of the woman.  We will look at that last in these four articles.  Now let’s see what we learn from verses 1-15.

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What We Do Know

A careful examination of the text will reveal a number of important details about Jesus, the Samaritan woman, and where the event takes place.  We learn such things as:

  • there is a hint of growing antagonism between Jesus and the Pharisees.
  • Jesus continues to travel to find people who are open to hear spiritual truths.
  • Jesus experienced normal human needs like thirst and the need for rest.
  • there must be significant differences between being a Jew and being a Samaritan.
  • the woman misunderstands that Jesus is not talking about natural water.

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What We Need To Know

There are many obvious details that we can learn from the story, such as outlined above.  But there are a number of important things we need to know that may not be as obvious.  This is where it is important to know the Old Testament stories which provide the background to the New Testament.  In addition, it is also often quite helpful to read resources which provide insights into the culture and history of the Jewish people and other nations of their time.   Let me highlight a few important background issues:

  • It was customary for a Jew who was travelling from the south province of Judea going to the north province of Galilee to either follow the Jordan River along its western bank, or to cross over the Jordan and travel up through the eastern regions to get to Galilee.  This was to avoid the possibility of travelling through the middle province of Samaria.  Thus, we can probably discern that Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman was no accident, but a divine appointment.
  • Jacob was one of the earliest ancestors of the Jewish people.  Called the Patriarchs, Abraham was the father of Isaac, who was the father of Jacob (whom God also called Israel), who was the father of Joseph.  As travelling desert nomads, these Patriarchs overcame great difficulties in claiming the land of Canaan, which included digging and protecting important wells.  So was Jesus greater than the Jewish Patriarchs?  We know the answer is “Yes!”
  • Jews and Samaritans would have nothing to do with each other, publically or privately.  When the Assyrians conquered Samaria and the Northern Kingdom in 721 B.C., they imported a large number of non-Jewish people to live among and intermarry with the people and they became known as the “Samaritans”.  In other words, they were viewed as “cursed half-breed Jews” and association with them would make a Jew unclean in God’s eyes.  But Jesus saw this woman through eyes of love and as a person who needed to hear about God.
  • Finally, note that the woman went out of town to get water at “the sixth hour”.  Starting with the Roman/Jewish reckoning of 6 a.m. as the start of the day, she was getting water at noon, the hottest part of the day.  And why?  Probably because she was a social outcast as we will see in the next article.

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Stay tuned for more articles about Jesus and his talk with the Samaritan woman.

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* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

Thanking God For Language Tutors

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Language Tutors Teach Us More Than Just Language

One of the first things that missionaries will need to do once they arrive on the mission field is to do language learning.  It is rather obvious that if one is going to hope to minister to people of a different culture that learning the language of those people is necessary to be able to communicate with them and so be able to minister to them.

There are a number of ways in which a person can go about learning another language.  In our western culture, it is quite common for us to attend lectures and have a professor teach a large class of students who are all learning this new language.  On the other hand, some people prefer to learn the language on their own at home and listen to audio lessons and study a book.

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On the mission field though, it is much more common to have a native speaker work closely with one person, or perhaps as many as five people.  The students/missionaries will need to memorize new vocabulary and important grammar rules, just like in our classroom model, but much more time is usually spent on practical language production.

We have found over the years that this tutor/learner model has helped greatly to equip missionaries to become actively engaged in the new language faster than the traditional classroom teacher/student model.  And as a side benefit, the missionaries have also often become good friends with their tutors.  Listen to the story of one missionary as he tells us about his language learning experience.

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Jeffrey…He was the meek and ever smiling teacher/tutor.  He was so kind and patient with us in our drills.  Patient to try to answer our questions and patient to wait for us to catch up on our lessons after being out with sick children.  His favorite saying was “Bwana anaweza” (God is able).  He said it and meant it. 

As we got to know Jeffrey, he began to share more about his life.  His dad died when he was young so he was raised by his older brothers who were very harsh with him.  He had worked hard to be educated through form 4 (equivalent of about high school sophomores) and was desiring to go back for more school to become a teacher. 

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Jeffrey seemed to reflect the light and love of Jesus.  He invited us to his church.  He felt a little ashamed because they didn’t have a building.  When we went, we found a building made of sticks for walls but a full tin roof.  The words of the sermon and songs were Swahili, but the passion for the word and praising God reached beyond Swahili.  Jeffrey led most of the songs from his seat and he sang amazingly well.

Jeffrey was blessed to have a bicycle.  He lived a couple of miles from campus.  Every day the students had a 2 and a half hour break for lunch but our teachers had preparation sessions during that time.  So many days he didn’t have the time to go home for food or the money to get something on campus so he would just wait until afternoon tea break and eat as much as possible then.  He didn’t complain, he was just thankful for the snack. 

Jeffrey did a great job of teaching us the language.  But we believe that the most important lesson that he taught us was this, “Bwana anaweza.”  God is able to do more than we could ask or think.  He is able to take us frail humans and take care of us and use us for His glory.  He does it every day with Jeffrey. 

In this young man, of about 20 years, God exhibits that He is able to salvage the life of a boy raised in poverty within a hateful environment, in a country that is not the “land of opportunity”.  Yet each day Jeffrey shares the love of Jesus with others through his patience, kindness, smiles, songs and words about the Lord.  We pray that God will continue to bless Jeffrey with hope and someday the education and career that he desires.

                                

This story brings back many memories for me of the early years that our family spent in our village in Papua New Guinea.  There were a few men living there who were truly gifted in their language, not only just as native speakers, but as someone who had a natural gift to be able to help us to learn to speak their language.

We did not have any textbooks as we learned the village language, since their language had never been written down before.  Instead, we would carefully write down on paper the words that we heard, and then we would practice over and over again with our language helper until we would get it right.

Our language tutors were also so loving and patient with us.  And many of them became our best friends in the village during the time that we lived there.  They knew that we had come to learn their language in order to translate the Bible into their language.  And they so wanted this to happen, that they patiently helped us so that we could communicate with them, but not just our words, God’s Words.  What a joy to live among and to serve these wonderful people.

My Life Testimony – Pt. 6

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My Online Christian Magazine Interview – Pt. 6

Recently, I was interviewed by a Christian magazine regarding my life in Christ and the translation work that I have been involved with for over 17 years now. In this sixth article that includes a portion of the questionnaire, I talk about the challenges that Jill and I have faced in light of the muscle disease which showed up in 2008.  My prayer is that what I wrote will be a blessing to you, and be a testimony to the greatness of God who has empowered me to do His work.

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Q12: The muscle disease seems to be your next big challenge out of the blue. It is simply amazing that you keep going on despite the hindrance. Were you not tempted to take on a less challenging task in Canada? How do you focus on the work when the pain comes? How does your family cope and how do they help you with the task?

When the muscle disease flared up for me in March 2008, I literally went from globe-trotting and running through the airports in February to not being able to walk across my living room floor six weeks later.  I felt like I had changed into an old man overnight.  I had to cancel a teaching trip to Africa, and I didn’t know if I would be able to go on another mission trip again.  But Jill and I went anyways for about 3 ½ weeks in the Fall of ’08 to PNG for me to check on a translation project.  It went very poorly and I was in a great deal of pain on that trip. 

At the same time that this happened to me, there was an administration problem of some missing documentation that caused our mission in Canada to be put on hold for a few months with the government.  Suddenly I found that I was unable to do anything with my mission back home or overseas.  In the coming winter months I truly was in a deep depression and a state of great despair. 

As part of my initial therapy, I was seeing a physiotherapist and a social worker to help me deal with the physical and emotional pain and loss of purpose.  God gave me two wonderful professional women who worked with me and to whom I could share the deep burdens of my heart.  I found that as I cried and spoke of my great desire to still be used by God in mission service, God came and lifted the emotional pain from me and I gained a confidence that God would still use me in spite of my physical limitations.

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So Jill and I went forward by faith, believing that God had given me all this training and these experiences for a reason.  In the next two years, Jill and I kept coming back to PNG so that I could do the consultant checking of Scripture for various language groups.  We found that as long as I requested wheelchair assistance, the airlines took good care of me all the way from Canada to PNG. 

My strength could no longer do this on one long haul, so I would take rest stops along the way as I traveled to PNG.  It now takes me about five days in either direction to get me to and from Canada over to PNG.  But I now have an LA hotel, a Brisbane motel, and a PNG Guesthouse who know me very well and help me whenever I arrive there.

It is also important to tell you how much Jill has helped me to continue to do this ministry work.  She has been working as a nurse in Calgary for many years since we left PNG in 2002.  We both knew that I would not be able to manage on my own over in PNG with my muscle disease.  So what Jill has done now for the last four years has been to save up her vacation time and bank ahead her overtime hours into the future so that she could come for a month or more on these trips with me.

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When I am doing the checking sessions in PNG, we sit and examine the translation verse-by-verse from 8:30-12:00 and then 1:30-4:30.  This is both mentally and physically very exhausting work for me.  Every day I do checking sessions, I must sleep for one hour during the lunch break, and then again at the end of the afternoon before supper. 

There are many days that I am so exhausted at noon that I do not even have the energy to make myself a peanut butter and jam sandwich.  Jill and I laugh about the idea that she has come half way around the world, just so she can make me a peanut butter and jam sandwich.

This sense of “God is not finished with me yet” that I had in 2009 kept growing as Jill and I continued to take trips over to PNG.  Each trip seems to get longer and longer as I find more ways to adapt my environment and work within my limitations.  One doctor has prescribed a “medicine patch” which helps to lower my daily level of pain, but has not eliminated it. 

I have also found that if I get a 2-hour massage session on my legs and arms every 2 to 3 weeks, then the painful knotted muscles get loosened up and I can continue to function in my life and work.  It is not easy to live with so much pain, but I know that the ministry of giving God’s Word to others in their heart language is worth it all.

 

The Connection Between Heaven And Earth

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John 3:31 – 36

31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.

34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

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These six verses taken just by themselves can be extremely difficult to follow and to understand.  Often, when we encounter a difficult teaching passage like this, there are at least two ways that we can gain help from Scripture to understand Scripture.  I will do my best here to try to unearth what I believe are the deep truths being taught here.

First of all, we must try to see if we can find a key thought or central message that is being taught here.  It seems to me that verse 35 may be the most important truth which will shed light on the rest of the passage, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand”.  This shows the preeminent place that Jesus holds, and establishes His divine authority.  Keep this in mind as we unravel the rest of the passage.

Secondly, it is always important to see the larger context in which a passage is found.  The last verse revisits the themes of spiritual life and salvation to those who believe in Jesus, vs. spiritual death and condemnation to those who don’t believe.  That was the concluding thought in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus.  Verses 31 – 33 become clearer when we realize that this comes immediately after John the Baptist states that Jesus must become greater and he (John) must become less significant.

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It would probably be very helpful if we were to replace the many pronouns “he” with the person who is in view, and to bring out explicitly the things that are implicit (i.e. the things that are truths below the text but can be brought up to the surface of the text to be seen more clearly).  See if this helps:

31 He (Jesus) who comes from above (Heaven) is above all (greater than any other). He (John) who is of the earth (i.e. is a human) belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way (speaks about matters that concern us in this earthly life). He who comes from heaven is above all.

 32 He (Jesus) bears witness to (shares a message concerning) what he (Jesus) has seen and heard (in Heaven, ie. “spiritual truths”), yet no one (humanity in general) receives his testimony. 33 Whoever (a person who has faith) receives his testimony (Jesus’ message) sets his seal to this (gives his approval, or agrees), that God is true (that the message about God is true).

You can see how tricky it can be to understand these verses unless we first carefully define each person and idea in these verses.  But once we do that, then the meaning becomes so much clearer.  There is a fundamental reality here, namely that there is an earthly existence (that which you and I are experiencing right now), but that there is also a spiritual existence.  That is the realm of God.

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These two realms though, that of Heaven and that of earth, are not to be thought of as separate and isolated from each other.  No, we see immediately in verse 34 that “the Father sent him (Jesus)” to come into the world and “utter the words of God”.  In simpler terms, Jesus came down from Heaven to teach us all about who God is and what the Kingdom of God is like.

Note one very important detail here.  Even though God had sent many messengers before to proclaim the truths of God, namely prophets, Jesus is different from these messengers for it says in verse 34 that God gave His Spirit to Jesus “without measure”, i.e. completely and without limitation.  Prophets had a portion of the Spirit to declare divine truths, but Jesus was given limitless access to God’s Spirit which gave him full ability to bring messages of divine truth to mankind.

Regarding John 3:33-34, Carson’s Commentary on John says:

Throughout redemptive history, God spoke to his people through many accredited messengers. Each received that measure of the Spirit that was required for his or her assigned task. Three centuries after John wrote, Rabbi Aha rightly commented that the Holy Spirit who rested on the prophets did so according to the measure of each prophet’s assignment.  Not so to Jesus: to him God gives the Spirit without limit.

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This brings us to the key verse of 3:35, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.”  And verse 36 goes on to state specifically what it is that God had given to His Son.  As Heaven and Earth connect through the Person of Jesus, it is declared by the Father that the Son has the right to give eternal life to whoever would believe in Him.  The opposite is also made clear.  To those who do not believe in Jesus and thus disobey God, to them comes condemnation and eternal punishment.

Dear friends: this life is the prelude to the next life.  What you decide here in this earthly realm will determine your fate and condition in the spiritual and eternal realm.  What will you decide?

Missionary Life Outside Of Work

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For most people who have a Monday to Friday job, the weekend is a time to relax, get a few things done around the house, and to go out to stores and visit people.  This is quite similar for one of our missionaries in Papua New Guinea, who wrote about it in one of her newsletters.  But notice some of the interesting differences below when you live the life of a missionary.

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My day started about 4:15 AM. I got dressed, spent some time in Bible study and prayer, and read some email messages. I put a load of clothes in the washing machine about 5 AM, but chose to skip my usual morning step walking exercise, knowing I would be walking to the market a bit later.

I swept the floor, ate a bowl of soup, and hung up the clothes before leaving for the market to buy pineapples, passion fruit, bananas, cucumbers, eggplant, broccoli, and lettuce. I had intended to buy a few more things, since I am dehydrating fruits and vegetables to help another missionary feed the work team that is coming to build her bush house in October.

[Editor’s Note: fruit and vegetables grow in abundance here, but to get them out to people in the bush area can be expensive to transport.  Thus dehydrating and rehydrating food later can be one solution for this.]

I had transferred a few Kina (PNG bills worth a little over 40 cents in US money) to my wallet before leaving for the market, and then left the wallet on my desk. Oh well, I do have some broccoli in the dehydrator now and I also bought the eggplant for her. I do still have a bit of time to complete that task since the work crew doesn’t come until October.

Upon my return from the market, I took a shower and then washed the dishes so I would have room to soak my fruits and veggies in bleach water in the sink for 15 minutes to get rid of any lingering unwanted, harmful bacteria. While the produce was soaking, I concentrated on good bacteria by making my weekly batch of yogurt.

Start with 2 cups of milk powder dissolved in 2 cups of cold tap water and 1 cup of very hot (but not boiling) tap water. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of plain, natural yogurt, stir and then pour this mixture into two pint sized glass jars. I place these jars in a hot water bath in whatever containers are available, wrap with two heavy towels and place out on the veranda in the sun. By the end of the day—Voila! Yogurt! So easy!

[Editor’s Note: bacteria and intestinal problems from unprepared food can be quite serious. Thankfully one cap of bleach water and 20 minutes soaking can take care of that.]

A colleague from the PBT office downstairs called to let me know she was finished shopping and ready to go with me to the haus sik (hospital) to visit, a patient there. I called to be sure he had not been released and then gathered up some cold water and a bit of food to take along, and we were off. I had responded to an early morning call a couple of days earlier to take this young boy to the haus sik because he was vomiting blood.

After several injections and an IV, he is somewhat better and now able to eat and drink a few soft, bland items. We were very impressed by the good care his Aunt was giving him—probably better care than any other child in the hospital. She was continually washing his hot skin off with a damp towel or fanning him with that same towel after dipping it in water.

He did drink a bit of water while we were there and in the morning before I go to church, I will take him some more cold water and some ice cubes that can be wrapped in a towel to help cool him. There are overhead fans in the children’s ward, but they did not seem to be doing a very good job of battling the heat.

[Editor’s Note: The conditions in the medical facilities in PNG are very poor. In the rural bush areas, most people have to walk many hours to get to the closest Aid Post, and often they run low or are out of medicine.  When a patient is admitted into the hospital here in Madang (which is a collection of open room buildings with cots in them), it is often still the responsibility of family or friends to bring food to the patient and do some of their personal care.]

Home again, I took my wash off the line, washed more dirty dishes, and went downstairs to open the office door for a visitor who was doing some computer work in our office. Now I have come full circle to the place where I started this true tale with a yogurt and reading break.

The Saturday evening meal and game night proved to be a great time of fellowship with good friends, good food, and lots of laughter. Sunday was a much more restful day, starting early as usual, but with a short nap after breakfast. I visited the hospital on my way to church as planned and found the boy a bit more energetic than he had been the previous day.

After church services I fixed myself a hamburger for lunch and headed for my bed to read a bit and take another short nap before finishing this message to you. This evening at 6 PM I will gather with other PBT personnel in our conference room for a regular Sunday evening time of fellowship and prayer which we have dubbed Sing n’ Share.

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