A new model

​In 2014, with an emphasis on ECPNG’s Honinabi district, the team ran a trial Bible storytelling workshop series for pastors and other Bible teachers. The series consisted of an Old Testament workshop early in the year and then a New Testament one late in the year. It included the Kubo, Samo, and Gobasi language communities. Since then the team has been working very hard to help with follow-up there and to scale up our capacity to extend this approach to other North Fly language communities. Now we are full into the last stages of planning with ECPNG’s Debepari district, which includes the Pa (Pare) language community.

Chronological stories

By Clyde

In 2013, Dale & Carin LeRoy of Pioneers returned to Papua New Guinea and introduced Simply The Story, which was adapted to the cultural context for the Pastors‘ Workshops trialed by the North Fly Bible team in 2014. This past year has in turn been focused on building capacity in the team, in infrastructure, and in financial resources.

Now in 2016, Dale & Carin are back in PNG for six months and hope to take the orality project to the next stage by introducing the concept of story sets. They hope to facilitate small workshops with a couple trainers to craft the first set. This set is designed to give an overview of the story of God’s interaction with his people „from Creation to Christ“.

However, the people targeted by this project have also been affected by the drought caused by the most recent El Niño weather pattern. Therefore, Pioneers is still raising funds to help with drought relief, as well. Anyone interested in donating to this project can do so through online: GOBASI PROJECT – PHASE II

Currently on furlough, Johanna and I look forward to returning to PNG in April and working with Dale and Carin. Our intention is to then be available to help ECPNG to continue this project and extend it into other language communities.

Civil engineering

 

For two decades I have been hearing stories about how a road is going to be built that would connect the town of Kiunga to the communities along the Strickland River. I have even heard a story that the Japanese would pay for a bridge to be built across the mighty Strickland itself. Talk is cheap, and these communities are still isolated from the rest of world. Without surface transportation, there are few if any option for economic development. Health and education services, and government grants for community projects have helped; however, without the opportunity to participate in any of the primary industries of the wider world, attitudes among the youth tend to range from defeat to entitlement.

Therefore, I was happy to hear, about two and half years ago, that a young Samo man with a good educational and work experience background had been accepted into a bachelor’s degree program at Lae Unitech. Because his government scholarships were a bit slow in coming, we pitched in twice to help fill in the gap. I was persuaded to do so by reports of his character, which we have since witnessed for ourselves. He is a strong believer who has been active in church leadership, and is now a leader in the Christian student fellowship at his university.

This week he is taking exams, which he let me know by email. Please pray for him during this challenging week.

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Who lives in the North Fly?

 

By Clyde

During most of my experience so far as a missionary, the dominant way of thinking about the people we are trying to reach has been framed in terms of groups defined by language and culture. Thus in the North Fly we talk about tribes and language communities – or, more generically, about people groups.

However, recently I have become aware that putting people into these simple categories has been seriously questioned by research that has been developing for about fifty years! As it turns out, much of mission strategy during my lifetime has been based on an understanding of anthropology that froze in the 1960s, while the actual field of anthropology and related disciplines continued moving forward with little effect on Christian missionaries like me.

While we still talk about language communities in the North Fly, we also recognize several additional factors that have deeply changed our vision. We now look forward to the day when everyone in the North Fly can read or hear God’s Word and respond to it in a growing Church. To see this vision realized, we are paying much more attention to: orality, multilingualism, and non-tribal social identities. Most importantly, we are paying much more attention to the growth of the Church in the North Fly – and it’s connection to the Church beyond the North Fly.

We also recognize that there are many people in the North Fly who do not fit into any of the recognized tribal groups. There are many people whose families fled hostilities in West Papua. There are immigrants from the Philippines employed in management positions in Kiunga businesses, especially in the rubber industry. There are immigrants from China who are employed in management and security positions in a growing number of Chinese-owned businesses. There many urban Papua New Guineans who don’t identify clearly with any one tribe, and others who do but are less comfortable in their local languages than are their rural relatives. On the other hand, there are children growing up in town who are learning and speaking their local languages – something none of us predicted even ten years ago.

Our conclusion can only be that the social situation is complex! Rather than bemoan the many changes we have seen over the years (and regret that for years we ignored many important social factors), we choose to embrace the complexity as a fascinating challenge and aim for our new slogan, „The Bible for Everyone“ – whatever that takes!

If anything of the above interests you at all, consider reading Soul, Self, and Society: A Postmodern Anthropology for Mission in a Postcolonial World, by Michael A. Rynkiewich. I read this book in preparation for the conference Johanna mentioned on April 20. The author was the keynote speaker, and the four of us who traveled up from the North Fly enjoyed getting to know him personally as well.

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Pastors‘ Workshops, part 2

 

The 2014 highlight of our work in the North Fly was definitely the two trial workshops. The goal of the workshops was to use “storytelling” to bring an accurate understanding of the Bible to all members of the community. We use the term “storytelling” to refer to the primary method of learning and saving information in an oral society. Both the PNG English expression “we’re telling stories” and the Tok Pisin expression “yumi stori” imply that one person (at a time) is sharing what they know, and a group is repeating it and discussing it.

The workshops targeted the pastors and other Bible teachers of the Honinabi district of the Evangelical Church of Papua New Guinea. The participants as a group studied forty-five passages selected from all major divisions of the Bible. They learned the flow of the Story recorded in the Bible and became familiar with the Bible’s „library“ structure. Along the way they also Improved their study skills.

The workshops also facilitated plenty of practice in incorporating Bible storytelling into preaching and Bible teaching. The workshops each concluded with an analysis of the spiritual needs of the community, and strategic ministry planning and follow-up.

Extended family

 

Although we thought we were co-sponsoring a workshop for pastors, it quickly became clear that the event would be a great experience for the whole family! Still there were times when the parents found it hard to concentrate, and we are hoping to introduce some activities for the kids in the New Testament workshop coming up in October.

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No fear

 

On the Sunday after the second week of the pastors‘ workshop, a team of pastors led a larger group of people to a village that had turned its back on God and instead put its hopes in selling witchdoctor services and marijuana. Since there is no longer a church building there, they met in the longhouse that had been built for the witchdoctor’s practice. The first thing they did was to clear out the evil forces through prayer. Pastor Daniel (right) gave the message. Since he is from the Aekyom tribe, Pastor Udobo (left) translated into Samo.

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