I know I work with Pioneers who specialise in working with people groups, but one of the treats of Papua New Guinea is that the local church is living and active. I work within their leadership and alongside their workers. In fact, I even share a mosquito net with one of them!
This month, I want to tell you about Jennifer Wode and urge you to pray for her ministry. She is my friend and teacher in the village, but that’s only one of the ways she is serving God. Jennifer is from Dande village, an Aekyom. She is the youngest of four children and the only one unmarried, just like me. She is 29yrs old. Although she finished school at Grade 10 due to lack of school fees, she has a love of learning and speaks English with ease, as well as Pidgin and her native Aekyom.
Her parents were just newly married when they first heard the motor of the missionaries exploring up the river. They became Christians and taught her the ways of God as a child. For Jennifer though, it was not until 1997 that the good news of Jesus really took hold of her. She had a big sickness and spent a whole year at Rumginae Hospital. She had a lot of support from her family, the staff and missionaries. She was really challenged that God is in control of sickness and came through with a clear vision. “My desire is to bring the word of God to people who don’t know it” she explains.
From then on she has been active in teaching Sunday school, youth and women’s fellowship in her own village. She did a local discipleship training programme then went to the Bible School in Rumginae for 3 years 2004-2006. She would really like to go on and do further training too. Somewhere in that time she attended a translation workshop and sat down the back.
She was one of the few who completed translating their allocated chapters of the Gospel of Matthew. Together with another woman in a nearby village they have continued and completed Matthew then are nearly finished translating Mark. It’s a revision of an old Aekyom New Testament translation. The project is on hold at the moment awaiting getting a table to work on. Sitting for hours cross-legged on the floor bent over books is rather difficult. She also needs to spend time working in her garden for her food – all her work is completely voluntary.
A couple of weeks ago we both went to a “Do not fear” workshop in a nearby town, looking at what the Bible says about the spirits of the dead and sorcery among other things. I was a participant, and she was one of the leaders. I loved watching her excitement after she led a small group Bible study, especially when it was illiterate Aekyom ladies hearing passages she had translated for the study. The ladies found answers from the Bible, confessed about their fears and some of the things they had been doing like going to mediums – and they were keen to trust God. And I am enjoying understand more of what they say! It was nice for her to be encouraged, because Jennifer sometimes feels like a lone voice for the truth in Dande.
There is cargo cult teaching right in our village and from several church leaders in the district. We were told in church the other week how a recent meeting in the mountains had “killed the monster of death” so there would now be no more death. Until now, he said, people have been doing sorcery and feeding the bodies of people they have killed to a monster on a nearby mountain. This monster controlled death. Now in a “revival” people have confessed sorcery and have killed the monster. They have found the tree of life. There will now be no more death at that place. Now the pastor wants people everywhere to talk out they have done sorcery, and death everywhere will finish and development will come – well the story goes something like that. Notice how it is assumed that sorcery is the cause of all death, and there is no mention of God or Jesus in the whole story… Have a look at Deuteronomy 32:39. So, as good as it is having an active church in our area, all is not well.
Jennifer really wants you to know about her story and the work going on here, so you can join her in using the armour that God gives to fight this battle and see people coming to trust in Jesus. Thanks for reading and praying.
PRAYER & PRAISE
- Pray for the community to get behind the translation project, particularly some men.
- Pray for Dande people to know that sin is disobedience to God, and is where death came from.
- Pray for faithful leaders to preach truth and rebuke lies. Praise God for removing the fears of many women at the workshop. Pray for them to put what they have learned into practice.
- Pray for wisdom, courage and perseverance for Jennifer and that God will use her to bring many to know him.