Vehicle Challenges In Papua New Guinea

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In an ideal day, you get up in the morning after a refreshing night of sleep.  In a relaxed but efficient way, you enjoy a nice hot breakfast with juice, and coffee for those who drink it.  Then you probably get into your car and drive yourself to work along well paved roads.  Your sense of peace and purpose may be challenges by rush hour traffic and rude drivers, and your immediate concern may simply be, “Will I get that parking space I want when I get to the office.”

It would be nice if life were that easy for all of us.  Certainly this idyllic life is probably not the norm for most people, seeing as we always seem to be rushing too much to get somewhere to do something.  And of course there are many normal but stressful aspects to daily living that all of us must deal with in life.  For those of us who work in overseas mission ministries, an average working day often carries a much higher level of stress and challenges.

Above is a picture taken from inside the Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) hangar in Madang, Papua New Guinea.  One of our missionaries there who works in the area of Logistics shared the story below about the day that she was to meet an incoming flight that brought some other missionaries to town, and send out a missionary and some important cargo to one of our bush allocations.  I was one of the missionaries coming in that day and didn’t know at first why we waited over an hour for our colleague to show up.  Read her story…

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Branch Vehicle Struggles

By Bethaney Butler

After a few sputters, the engine died and there I sat in PBT’s Toyota Hi-Ace, in the middle of a humongous pothole, while smoke filled the interior of the van and raindrops pelted the outside.  “Just another day in paradise,” I thought.

I was only a few hundred feet from my destination.  I had a van full of cargo that needed to get on the plane, which had already landed.  I had passengers who arrived on the flight and were awaiting pickup. Plane days generally boil down to one word in my mind: chaos.

The commotion had begun earlier that day.  I received a short notice call from MAF letting me know that the plane would be there shortly, so I needed to make my way to the airport. I had planned on loading all the cargo into the back of the Toyota Hilux, PBT’s most reliable vehicle.  Just before I was to start loading it began to rain. I quickly switched plans, taking our most unreliable vehicle, but the only one that could get all of the cargo there dry.

I eventually managed to make it to the airport but only after two other cars came to my aid—one to transport the cargo and then another to tow the van. Living in Papua New Guinea, there are already a number of challenges that we face in our days, having unreliable vehicles only adds to the frustration.  The PNG Branch is in need of some new vehicles.  Vehicles that are trustworthy and reliable. Vehicles that make those challenging days, just a tad easier.

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[Editor’s Note: another PBT colleagues of ours also has written briefly about how bad our vehicle situation is in our PNG Branch.  The picture below makes it look like the Hi Ace is a great vehicle, but read what my friend has to say about it.]

Right now we are at an exciting time as new team members are joining our branch. We have one family with two young children and one single female coming as translators this coming January. God is answering our prayer for more harvest workers! Like your vehicle is important to you, it is doubly important to us as overseas missionaries.

One area of high concern is security and trustworthiness. With many single females on our team, it is an extreme concern to them to have a secure and trusty vehicle. Driving past dark in a vehicle that you can’t trust is a very stressful situation for anyone in a foreign developing country. The vehicle featured was a recent branch owned vehicle that had transmission issues, battery drainage, and mold on the seats and ceiling.

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In light of all this, I thought it would be appropriate to raise the following question with all of those who read my devotional articles on this blog site:

Would you consider giving to the replacement of one of our vehicles?

If you would like to donate, you can do so online or by check.

Online:

https://dlq4.donatelinq.net/qv10/default.aspx?MerchantID=PBTI
Click: Give Now button
Select category: Within Our Reach Campaign
Select sub category: PNG Vehicle

Give by check:

PBT Finance Office
PO Box 380820
Duncanville, TX 75138-0820

Note: PNG Project—Vehicle Replacement Fund

For more information contact: finance@pioneerbible.org.pg

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This is the first time that I have made any kind of financial appeal on this site.  But I feel this one is very timely and appropriate.  We are trying our very best to do the work that God has called us to do over in Papua New Guinea.  But without reliable vehicles, our work quite literally grinds to a halt.

If God does lead you to help us out, would you mind replying to this article in the response area below and let me know about it?  Your comment will not be posted to be seen by anyone else.  But it would be such a great encouragement to me if I were to hear back from some of you.  May God bless you abundantly through Jesus our Lord.

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Heaven Is Our True Home – Pt. 1

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“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 5

Do you know what amazes me?  What I find real astounding is just how attached most of us are to the things of this life.  We slave and work hard to earn money.  Some people inherit it, others cheat, lie and steal to get money.  And what do they do with it?  They buy more and more stuff that is bigger and “better” than our old stuff.  Or we use our money to pamper ourselves and make “improvements” to our bodies, in hopes that we might live just a little longer.

Seeing the danger of money, some Christians inaccurately quote the Bible and say, “Money is the root of all evil.”  Actually, it is not the object (money) that is the problem, it is the love of it and pursuit of what it can do that is the problem.  Look at how it is actually quoted in 1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

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We need to ask ourselves why we allow ourselves to get caught up in the “deceitfulness of wealth” (Mark 4:13).  For many of us, it is not our intention to get caught up in the things of this world.  But as this parable of Jesus states in Mark 4, many people hear the Word of God and would gladly follow its teachings, but the good things of this life and the worries about protecting our possessions that go along with it choke out the possibility of spiritual fruitfulness in our lives.

Max Lucado speaks to this issue in chapter 3 of his book “GOD’S STORY, your story.”  It really is easy for many of us who live in the affluent culture of North America to get wooed into thinking that “this life is a good life” as we are able to surround ourselves with our comfortable materialism.  Lucado says that we can get to the point of actually believing that this life is the “real life”.  That is why we can be so shocked when reality does puncture our bubble.  Listen to Lucado from pp 58 – 59:

But then the flies come out.  People die, earthquakes rumble, and nations rage.  Families collapse, and children die of hunger.  Dictators snort and treat people like, well, like pigs.  And this world stinks.

And we have a choice.  We can pretend this life is all God intended.  Or …  We can come to our senses.  We can follow the example of the prodigal son.  “I will set out and go back to my father” (Luke 15:18.

Perhaps part of the problem for us today is that there is so much to choose from these days.  Our supermarkets abound in food choices, our closets are overflowing with clothes, there are hundreds of interesting places that we can choose from to go have our vacation, and if we don’t do it this year, we will just wait and do it next year.

This world is a beautiful world, no doubt about it.  But we must not get so enamoured by the things in this life that we forget that we are just passing through this life and are being prepared for our eternal life that still lies ahead of us.  We must not lose sight of where we are truly meant to be as we look around at the pretty things in this life.  Lucado paints the picture well in an airplane analogy on page 59:

 Suppose this announcement were heard: “Ladies and gentlemen, this flight is your final destination.  We will never land.  Your home is this plane, so enjoy the journey.”

Passengers would become mutineers. We’d take over the cockpit and seek a landing strip.  We wouldn’t settle for such an idea.  The journey is not the destination.

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I think Jill and I get reminded of this frequently as we move back and forth between Canada, the US and Papua New Guinea in our ministry work for God.  We do have a condo, or should I say a mortgage, back in Canada.  But every year, we are packing our bags up again to travel across the world to do our Bible translation work in PNG.

When we get overseas, we will try to set up our home there for the couple months that we are there.  But it is so obvious that this is just a temporary residence and not really our own home.  The silverware drawer got moved again.  The pictures, if there are any, are not ours.  We have trouble finding a matching sheet set for the bed.

And yet, we keep on coming back over here.  Not for what we can get out of it, or the fact that PNG is a tropical paradise on earth.  But rather, we are trying to make a difference in people’s lives with the translated Word of God.  Because there awaits an eternal home for all of us, and we want to share that Good News with the people here.

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So here is what I am trying to say: for some of us like Jill and me, we will never be able to settle down and “make a home”, while others do have the means to make themselves a very comfortable home.  But for all of us, this should not be our ultimate goal in life, for there is a heavenly home awaiting all who are God’s children.  Let’s not forget: Heaven is our True Home.

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

Christian Perspective On Wealth

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The Plinky Question for this week is:  “What Does Wealth Mean to You?”

That’s an easy question, isn’t it?  I mean, isn’t the answer obvious? Wealth is money, jewelry, fancy cars, exotic holiday locations, power, lots of material objects, land & property, and on and on goes the list.  But if that is the answer, then only a very tiny fraction of people in the world would be considered “wealthy people”.

And yet, there is a stunning and sad fact of life that goes along with the thought just expressed above.  If you ask this question “What is wealth?” to the average person, you will find them stating what I just wrote above.  And then if you ask a related question, “Do you think wealthy people are generally happy?” most people would very quickly answer “No!  I doubt that.”  And why is that do you think?

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Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Rich people get bored.  How many days can you just sit on a beach and drink champagne?
  2. Rich people have to be suspicious of everyone.  Every hand that reaches out to shake their hand will often ask for some kind of hand out or suggest ways that they can help spend that money.
  3. Rich people live in fear.  They become targets for kidnappers and potential blackmail people.
  4. Rich people can buy but not hold friendships.  Once the money is gone, supposed friends seem to disappear.
  5. Rich people cannot escape the inevitable no matter how hard they try.  How many plastic surgeries will they endure to keep looking young, and their money does them no good when they die?

Now if even just half of what I suggest here is true, then there is certainly no way that I ever want to be a really wealthy man.  I mean really, if riches ultimately cannot provide a person with joy and true long-lasting friendships, then why pursue those riches.  (Ah ha, I’ve just revealed a part of what true wealth is: it is having true meaningful relationships with others, and possessing an inner spirit of joy.)

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Just recently, I worked through a Southeast Asia translation on the book of Matthew.  Consider from the English back translation how they translated the words in Mt. 6:19-21:

“Don’t gather treasure for yourself in this world, where termites and rust will destroy that treasure of yours, and a thief can break in and steal it.  Instead, gather your treasure in heaven, where termites and rust cannot destroy it, and a thief cannot break in and steal it.  For where your treasure is, that is where your heart is also.

Notice here the two dangers we face if we build up our “treasures” here on earth?  We face the possibility that either termites or rust will destroy whatever we own.  Now that probably sounds pretty odd to you, doesn’t it?  When was the last time that we had to fight off termites or deal with rust in our comfortable North American homes?

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Consider this from the perspective of someone who lives in a remote village in some developing country though.  And it is more than Southeast Asia that I am thinking of.  It is the Pacific Island countries, the tropical jungle areas of South America, the dusty sun-baked villages of Africa, and many more places in the world.  There is still a majority of the world living in poor to poverty-stricken areas.

For these kinds of people, their vast wealth in life can be listed on a short piece of paper: 2 sets of clothes (maybe), a wooden, mud or bamboo hut, a couple of old dented pots, a machete, and an ax if they are real fortunate, etc.  And so for them, the danger of termites eating through their walls and floors, and rust damaging their few tools and cooking items is certainly a real threat to their livelihood, and perhaps their very survival.

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But Jesus’ words are meant for even these poor people to hear.  We must not put our trust and our hopes in even these few meager items, for life is more than just surviving from day to day.  And life is most certainly more than all the trinkets, gadgets and possessions we have in the West.  No, real life begins and ends in our relationship with God.

You see, it is really all about perspective and values.  If we view life totally from a “Me” perspective, and if we place a high value on the things of this world, then everyone from the billionaire to the shanty town dweller will be yearning for more than what they presently have. So a very “wealthy” person or a destitute person have it all wrong when it comes to what is of true worth in this life.

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In Matthew 13, Jesus teaches many parables, and in verses 44 – 46, Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a great treasure found buried in a field and to  a fabulous costly pearl found at a market.  Jesus states in these parables that finding the joy or having God rule over one’s life (i.e. the meaning of “Kingdom of Heaven”) is worth so much that a person would be willing to sell all earthly possessions to be able to own that field, to buy that pearl, to become a citizen with God’s Kingdom.

So what is my perspective on wealth?  I know that I am a child of the King, and an heir to all the promises of God and all the blessings and riches of Heaven.  I have the love of God my Father, and the salvation bought for me by Jesus, and the joy and presence of the Holy Spirit, and the fellowship of other believers.  What more could I ever want.  Truly, I am a wealthy man.

Presenting God First

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The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

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His Mission…Our Mission

Pray for God’s kingdom to come! The disciples must have asked Jesus how to pray. After coaching them on their motives for prayer, Jesus told them to pray like this: “Father, Your name be praised and honored. Your kingdom come and Your will [Your mission] be done” (Mt. 6:9-10, italics and paraphrase mine).

Jesus, the son of God, tells us to pray for God! For His glory, His name, His fame, His kingdom, and His mission. God desires our praise. He wants us to participate in His mission of a blessing for all peoples (Gen. 12:3-4) as He establishes His kingdom today on earth and forever in heaven.

So, pray for God to call out His laborers into His harvest fields more than ours. Pray for the establishment of His Church, more than our mission organization or denomination. Pray for the reputation of His name, more than our recognition. It is no accident that the most effective missionaries are often standing in the background, not upfront in the spotlight.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to convince unbelievers through His teachings more than our clever arguments. Pray for new believers to obey His commandments more than our traditions. Pray for the new church to find answers from His Word, more than our words. When we pray like this, He inevitably will surprise us. After all, it is His mission. And He will accomplish it.

–Adapted from Chapter 66 of Giving Ourselves to Prayer (Strategic Prayer for God’s Mission and Missionaries by Mike Barnett).

Posted: 24 Oct 2011

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I totally agree with the message presented to us in this devotional thought.  So often we get caught up in our plans, and have our own agendas to which we ask God to bless and be actively involved with.  But that really is in essence putting us first and God second.  It must be the other way around.

This reminds me of how Jill and I went about raising our financial support as we prepared to head over to Papua New Guinea in 1997.  During the three years prior to our departure to PNG, we had made contact with a number of friends and churches throughout Canada asking them to support our Bible translation ministry.

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We were very pleased that so many people took an active interest in our work, and God did raise up a good number of financial partners to help us.  But it was quite clear by the Spring of ’95 that we would not have enough support from just our Canadian contacts.  So we wondered if we might be able to present the message of our work and our need of financial support to some American churches.

The problem was that we did not have any real leads on who to contact, except for three men I had become friends with while in Seminary in Illinois and who were then ministering in different churches in Illinois.  I called them up, and they were quite happy to have me come and preach in their churches, and to talk about the ministry of Bible translation.

That was great!  We now had three opportunities placed in front of us in Illinois to present our desire to work as missionaries in PNG.  We took that as an indication from God that we should look to God for more open doors to be presented to us in Illinois.  But how?  I didn’t know anyone else in Illinois to ask.

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So this is what Jill and I did.  We took the “Directory of Ministry” book of our church’s background and found there were over 500 churches of our movement in Illinois alone.  So we prayed and asked wisdom from the Lord as to which churches to be contacting.  And God impressed upon me to look to the small churches, ones with 150 members and less.

That led to a list of about 130 churches still.  But we were trusting God that He was in control of all this.  And I prayed then to ask what message I should write in the letter, since none of these churches knew anything about me.  But then I realized, the message was not to be about me, but about God, and His Kingdom, and His mission work.

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And that is exactly how I wrote the letters I sent to the churches.  I presented God first, reminding the pastors and elders that God is a Missionary God as we see Him reaching out to lost mankind by His grace.  Then I explained about this key strategy of Bible translation, a means by which we could reach lost people with God’s Word in a language they could understand.

Then finally, I talked in my letters about the desire that Jill and I had to become missionaries with Pioneer Bible Translators so that we could be active in a mission in PNG that helped to bring people back to God through translated Scriptures.

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So then I sent off the letters to those 130 or so churches, putting God first and ourselves last.  And I asked if we could come to present this message to the congregation on a Sunday morning.  And you know what happened?  Out of the 130 churches, 28 of them said, “Yes, come and preach in our church.”

And from those 28 churches, about a dozen of them helped support us financially to send us to PNG in 1997.  And 15 years later, there are still half of these churches who still support the work we do in this Bible translation ministry.  And do you know why I think they still support us?  Because we continue to present God and His work first, and ourselves last.  And I believe that is how it ought to be.