Today when I started my morning language session it was a bit frustrating and discouraging. Nambi, a man who has some sort of authority in this village, came and wanted to tell me all the little names for rats, bushrats, birds, frogs, tree kangaroos and so on. My plan was to talk about pigs and I had already started talking with two ladies. Well, my plan went out the window but that was not so very discouraging. When he told Freddy (and myself) in tok pisin why he is helping us, I was discouraged even though I knew that this is the main reason for many people. He talked about what a hard life they have working hard for food, hunting and searching in the bush for meat while we just take meat out ‘from inside our house’ and our life is so easy. So he is looking forward to hearing how we do things one day so he can learn from us. This is what we call cargo cult thinking. They believe that we know the secret to a better life and that when they later do what we tell them, they will also enjoy all the earthly riches of the ‘white man’ with not having to do all the hard work.
We know that this is what many are thinking here, but to hear that again, so clearly, honestly wasn’t something I liked to hear. I like to see them really wanting to know and understand God’s word. I want them to question their beliefs and wonder what is the truth. I want them to see that our spiritual life is different and so much better, I want them to see Jesus in us and not the stuff we have. But honestly, isn’t that natural thinking even for us? We see a new phone that has better picture-taking quality, more memory and more functions and we desire it. We see others going on holidays and we want that for ourselves and our kids. I want things for myself, my comfort, even here in the bush. It is so much about self — not just the ‘self’ies. I myself want to know the language faster, I want good relationships, I want to know the Bible even more and better than others, I want us to be a great working team and I want MY kids to grow up well with the knowledge of God and enjoy serving him here…What is wrong with all that? The focus is wrong! The ‘self’ focus is something God doesn’t like. I was recently really challenged by a sermon about dying to self and LOVING GOD! : looking at God not at self. And as I do that, my neighbours and coworkers’ needs become important to me.
But there are two other reasons that the people say why they are so happy that we are here in Kovol.
Firstly, as I mentioned, it is our teaching them a better, easier way of living with lots of things to get and not much work to do. Another reason the guy Nambi mentioned to me today is: his sons are really looking forward to our teaching them to read and to write. They don’t have a school here. But there is also a third reason that I really liked to hear about, and I think you will too. I have mentioned it in one of our newsletters. Some people really do want to know and understand God’s word and what it really means. Dramat has mentioned that once to Philip and also Sivil (an older church leader) has said that. Dramat was taught by his older brother to read and his brother has even brought him a Bible. Now Dramat keeps his Bible next to his fire place. It is in the trade language and it is the only thing he can practise reading. At Christmas time, he teaches the young kids Bible verses that they have to memorize. But in a conversation with Philip he was talking about sins and said that he didn’t know a way out. He is really looking forward to hearing from us how he can be saved from his sins.
But no matter what reason they have, they really don’t know that they are missing out right now on the most important news: eternity with or without GOD, a relationship with God.
And they want us here.
Why are we here? Because we believe God wants us here. I loved what I heard this morning by Elisabeth Elliot: Obey GOD and leave the results to GOD.