Archive for August, 2012

Fight over!!!?

29 August 2012

Just wanted to pass along an update that yesterday on his way home Jeff passed the magistrates at their meeting place on the road between the two hauslains, and they asked him to stop and witness their peacemaking ceremony (because they didn’t trust each other!). He said it was very interesting to watch. Two magistrates from each hauslain faced each other and held hands like they were shaking hands, and two men from each hauslain stood next to them, across from each other, and passed the settlement money underneath the magistrates’ clasped hands. Then they split a pack of cigarettes and each side lit theirs, smoked them a little, and traded with the other line to smoke theirs! Apparently that fixes everything… unless, of course, someone stirs it up again (which, here, is almost as likely to happen 10 years from now as tomorrow!).

So, it was wonderful to hear that last night. Jeff had to leave again soon after getting home to climb the ridge next to our house for an evangelistic fellowship in another hauslain. Nobody was there, so he came home and I was so happy to have him to myself! We enjoyed watching a video made by another missions organization about their work in a certain area. There was something about it that kind of bothered me, and when it finished I was talking to Jeff about it and trying to put my finger on what it was. I think the gist of it is that organization’s practice of giving out food, money, etc. to “open doors for the gospel”. Our experience has shown that such methods, except perhaps in time of a disaster or emergency, are very counterproductive. Just yesterday I was SO grieved by the greediness of a church leader’s wife who had come to work in our garden. She just kept asking for more and more things! That really gets under my skin. It is so obvious that she is controlled by covetousness. Lately she regularly misses church (as does her husband) to “take care of sick children” and rarely makes it to Ladies’ Bible Study at our house, which is, to be honest, a 20-min. walk from hers (church is only a 5-min. walk), but as soon as it’s something she can do to make money (or in this case, get paid in oil/salt/etc.) there is absolutely no problem and she’s very free and anxious to come! And that’s only one example– this is a huge problem amongst the believers here. Or should I say “believers”? Some I’m sure just come to church/try to please us or get close to us just for what we might give them or help them with! It is a huge mistake to let ANYTHING, however kind it may be, get ahead of the gospel or in its way. (And yes, we’re constantly having to reevaluate our own practices in this light– even how we pay people for work they do for us.)

I was thinking about Jesus in this respect. Surely He was in contact with many very needy people. Did He ever give anybody anything? Yes, He had compassion on and healed the sick– but that was just to prove that He is God (and He didn’t need any expensive medicines either). He fed the 5,000 and the 4,000… but they needed food only because they had stayed a long time, probably longer than planned since they finished all of their own food and were hungry– so hungry that they might not make it back to town to get food. And, at least the first time, they appear to have done so for the sole reason of HEARING HIS TEACHING! (And later– maybe it was the 2nd time– He rebuked people who were following Him after that just to get more free food!) Anyway, I may be forgetting something– I haven’t studied this out at all– so if you disagree I am interested in your scripturally-informed thoughts on this subject. But it seems to me that Jesus’ focus was very pointedly on people’s spiritual rather than physical needs, and ours should probably be too!

I guess my uneasiness about the film we watched and my ensuing thoughts about the question of giving in missions boils down to this: Do we really believe that God is good? Good not only to those of us who have cleanliness and health and plenty to eat and pretty much everything else imaginable, but even good to the poorest beggar who is really and truly starving and lives in rags and filth? (The things in the video described as filthy and poor were pretty nice to some things I’ve seen in Kiari!) Is He good even to those people– even BEFORE the nice white missionary “fixes” all of those problems? We have to say yes. We HAVE to. It is true; the Bible says that He is good to ALL. And that’s what I was commenting to Jeff last night. After the video talked about all of the poor girls deceived into going to another country for a good-paying job only to find out that it was a job that sold their bodies nightly, it was easy to lie in my loving husband’s embrace and think, “God is so good to me”. And He is. But HE IS– CURRENTLY!– JUST AS GOOD TO THOSE POOR PROSTITUTES! And all the other people suffering in the many ways people can suffer in this world.

So I fell asleep thinking about that and woke up thinking about it this morning. And while we were sitting at the table having our devotions I heard pounding and crying coming from our next-door neighbor’s house. He was beating his wife. Now I’ve known that this goes on regularly in Kiari, but this was the first time I heard such a thing with my own ears and saw it with my own eyes. And it was horrible. When the man finally stopped I cried and cried for the longest time– a lot longer than the beaten wife!– and got Jeff’s sweatshirt really gross. And I had to tell myself that God is very good even to this poor lady. Then I went down to our neighbor’s house. He was very smiling and friendly, as always (except for earlier this morning). I shook his hand and hugged his wife and cried with her and gave her pain medicine and cleaned her cuts and put triple antibiotic ointment and band-aids on them. And I told her that we pray so much that they will get saved, because the Bible teaches Christian wives to submit to their husbands and Christian husbands to love their wives like they love their own bodies, but they just can’t do that without getting saved first. Their old nature will prevent them and bring about horrible things like today. And I tried to explain the gospel as simply and clearly as I could and prayed with her– thanking God for His goodness to her, asking Him to use this “heavy” to show her and her husband their need for Him and save them, and asking Him to heal her body and open her eyes to His goodness and power in that healing so that she would praise His name for it. Then I came home. So please pray for the Lord to use this whole thing in both of these folks’ hearts and save them. Please pray that they will not continue to run away from His goodness, falling deeper into destructive sin.

I think God was very good to allow all the things I’ve told you about in this post to come up not in my own life as well, to help me understand so much more clearly His goodness. He knows that our hearts and their condition are so much more important than our circumstances, and so He arranges our circumstances absolutely perfectly to help motivate us to get our hearts right. Unfortunately for some of us, who have very hard heads, He has to use harsher methods than He needs for others! But the end result will be well worth the pain.

Rejoicing in that amazing goodness,
Elizabeth Owens

PS– Oh yes, this morning the bow-and-arrows man wanted to go hunting so came to get them. Jeff took them up and told him thanks for letting him use them and that he had killed 5 wild pigs and 2 kabuls (something like the PNG version of a possum with soft, thick fur) (teasing, of course)! The man just laughed and said, “Yu winim mi nau” (That’s better than me/ You’ve got me beat now!) I am SO GLAD that little drama seems to be over and actually didn’t end up to be too dramatic! Yesterday the man’s wife storied with me at our gate for the longest time, and she and a neighbor girl are going to come Friday morning and teach me THEIR way to make tapiok (manioc/cassava) bread. So I think all is well. Whew! 🙂

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Quick update

27 August 2012

Just wanted to let everyone know that Jeff spent most of the day mediating between the two fighting lains, and when he came home he said the magistrates had agreed on the fines and each lain was working on gathering it to settle up late this afternoon. Jeff came home and later asked a boy at the gate if it had gotten all settled, and he said that the Kensa lain had gathered their money but the other lain hadn’t yet, so they were still waiting. So… we’ll see! Please keep praying… there wasn’t any fighting today but everybody was still tense and had their weapons in hand ready for action.

Please pray

26 August 2012

Please forgive my long silence– will try to catch you up soon on what’s been going on. For now, one very important thing for which we’d really appreciate your prayers…

This morning while walking to church we passed some people on the road who told us that there had been a fight yesterday involving a believer in our neighborhood. Apparently his adopted son (now married and on his own) had lost in a card game and gotten knocked out while trying to beat up the guy who won his money. The believer then lost his temper and tried to beat up the other guy, and from there it’s escalated into a full-blown village fight–the lain (extended family) of each guy taking his side (dividing Kiari into its two basic families). As we were leaving church this afternoon men from the lain settled on the ridge behind the church were running past us with bushknives (machetes), bows and arrows, and even a gun (illegal in PNG). Someone was calling from the far corner where the road goes around the mountain for them to bring sheets of metal roofing to use as shields. As we walked home we had the opportunity to stop and try and persuade these guys to go home; that lives are way more important than the little bit of money lost in a card game. Another guy was also encouraging the men to go home– though his reasoning was more along the lines that it was starting to get dark and tomorrow would be a better time for this! But at least they seemed to be turning back for now. When we came to Kensa (the location of our house and area where the other lain is settled) we called for everyone to follow us to the hausman (communal house) and Jeff told them all the same thing and also was able to briefly share the gospel. Afterwards some “big men” replied to him that it was the other lain who wanted to fight, not the Kensa lain, and that they were eager for peace. (We’re somewhat doubtful that that’s the complete truth since they all had their bushknives and bows and arrows out too, not to mention having shot warning gunshots back when an arrow was shot onto one of their roofs!) After that we walked back toward our end of the hauslain and were followed by the believer and his wife who had started it all. They sat down with us outside of their house and we were able to pray and talk with them for some time. They seem repentant and willing to take the first steps to try and make amends. This is a huge opportunity for this man to humble himself and be a good testimony before the whole village. PLEASE PRAY FOR HIM. Also pray for Jeff as he goes back to the hauslain behind the church tomorrow to try and persuade them to settle the matter peaceably in court.

Thank you! We see this as an opportunity for the Lord as much as (if not more than) for the devil, and we believe that He will be glorified through our prayers and whatever outcome He allows.

Elizabeth Owens

P.S. On the way back to our house Jeff was flabbergasted when I took a bow and arrows from a man who was very drugged and I know to have quite a temper; I told the man that I’ll keep them for him and when he wants to go hunting he can come and get them, I just don’t want him to fight with them! I don’t know how wise that was; please (seriously) pray that the Lord will overrule my foolishness and help what I did to work for the good instead of only causing additional problems! I have really been praying for this man’s wife, whose heart seems to be soft towards me, and hoping for opportunities to share the gospel with her… and also this man would really not be a very good person to be hated by!