Here I Am, Send Me!

Story By Stephanie Ernandes

Photos supplied by Steven Ttopoqogo

Steven and his father

“Bible Translator Ernie Richert came to our village with his family and met my grandfather in 1957.” Steven was told that, “My grandfather was a great hunter, he was the son of a chief.  He and his family didn’t live in the village, they lived in what we call a house-pig, a place where they took care of all the pigs.  The leaders of the village said, ‘Get that hunter to help that white man.’ And that is how my grandfather got involved in the work of Bible Translation.”

Steven’s father joined the team in 1965. Steven himself decided to join YWAM and planned to go to Bangladesh.  “Honestly I didn’t want to do Bible Translation, I wanted to do something like evangelism when I grew up.  I was raising my support to do this.” In the village, however, we had a prayer meeting every Saturday morning to pray for someone to help Steven’s Dad to translate the Old Testament into their language.  “My Dad didn’t go to English school.  He just learned his English around the translation table.”

Steven’s Dad’s desire to begin translating the Old Testament came from people’s response to the New Testament.  Many times the books of the prophets are referred to and quoted in the New Testament.  As people read the New Testament they started to ask, ‘Where are these books?’ and began to say ‘We want to see these books, this book is not complete!’”

Steven's Father

In 1996, they had been praying for almost a year. “In November of that year, right at the end of one of the prayer meetings a young man read a scripture, Isaiah 6:8: And the Lord said, ‘Whom shall I send?’ Then Isaiah said, ‘Lord, here I am!  Send me.’  He read that scripture and shared, ‘We’ve been praying for a year, and it seems that no one is responding.  I feel that God is asking this group, that someone in this group will respond like Isaiah responded.’  And I (Steven) was closing my eyes, but I felt like God was saying, ‘Steve, will you respond as Isaiah responded?’ and I said, ‘Lord, here I am, send me.’”

For 15 years, Steven was in the village serving in the church and helping his Dad with translation work.  In 2006 he got involved with training to help other Papua New Guineans to learn the work of translation.  In 2009 Steven joined a Bible translation organization located in the Eastern Highlands area of Papua New Guinea.  He moved his family there and began work managing the organizations mission’s center.  Since 2010 he has become a regional director in the same organization overseeing 12 different language projects in the Morobe region.

Steven’s Dad continues work on the Guhu Samane Old Testament.  It is 98% drafted.  Seven books are consultant checked and printed, and 16 books are consultant checked.  Steven oversees the continued work.

What a legacy they leave because of three generations of men who said in their hearts, “Lord, here I am, send me.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Broken Radios and Mended Hearts

story by Steve Geis

My Thursday morning started with a request for a medevac flight from a bush clinic to the capital, Port Moresby (POM). A lady experiencing shortness of breath and heart problems needed urgent care. We readied an aircraft and I was dispatched on the flight. Forty minutes later we loaded the patient, accompanied by a doctor and nurse, and departed for the capital. En route, the aircraft experienced a transponder failure.

Entry into Port Moresby’s busy airspace requires a functioning transponder, the device that allows Air Traffic Control (ATC) to monitor an aircraft’s position on radar. When I explained to ATC the urgency of our flight, they granted us special permission to enter their airspace with the failed transponder. We landed without further incident, and the patient was delivered to the hospital.

Since we couldn’t continue our flight with the failed transponder, we arranged for a technician to be flown down from our aviation base early the next morning with a new transponder to swap out the faulty one. Fixing it was supposed to be a simple, one-hour job. However, the technician ran into difficulties getting the new transponder to fit properly into the mount in the aircraft. We realized we had to request another special permission and fly the aircraft back to its base for further repairs.

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This was extremely frustrating for the technician and me as we had planned to pick up Zacc in a small village outside of POM after the transponder replacement and fly him to his home village. Zacc had just lost his wife and newborn child to birth complications a few weeks earlier in POM. Even as a follower of Jesus, he was finding it understandably difficult to talk to God since his loss. He had decided to visit his home village to mourn with his own Bariai people.
The delays and revised flight schedule meant Zacc would now have to remain in the village over the weekend until we could arrange another flight on Monday. What was God trying to do?

On Saturday, the day after we had originally planned to pick Zacc up, the mother of a member of his family came to his house, frantic with worry. Her daughter had been trying to give birth for three days and was physically fading. There was no medical help in the village. When the family went to pray over their relative, Zacc said he wanted to pray too. His father remarked to him that he had not seen Zacc pray since Maria’s death. (Although his faith in God had endured, Zacc had not yet come to a point where he felt like praying.) He asked the Lord to show his grace and allow the mother and child to live, praying that he did not want to see anyone else in his family die in this manner. When he finished his prayer, the baby immediately came right out! The umbilical cord had been wrapped around the head of the nine-pound baby, preventing the mother from delivering. Both of them survived! As you can imagine, this has greatly encouraged Zacc and has strengthened his faith.

So the frustration of the faulty radio and the canceled flight was all part of the Master’s plan to show his power in a very personal way to Zacc. Sometimes I get a glimpse into why God orders events differently to carry out his plans. It’s nice to know that he’s in control when it appears there is chaos all around.

Heart to Heart, Glory to Glory P.3/3

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story by Kairu Tumae

(Kairu is a Papua New Guinean graduate from the Ukarumpa International School, this is his testimony continued…)

When I returned to Kompiam to run the small community radio station, I started work by teaching myself how to use the equipment in the studio. I read about how to do radio announcing and how to structure my program. Looking back now, I know God was right there with me, teaching me about the job even though I had no experience in it. I cannot take any credit for where I am right now and all that I have learned in radio broadcasting because it was all God. He gave me the wisdom, knowledge and understanding to learn the skills of radio broadcasting and the details of running a radio station by myself.

The vision for Sauan 99.9 FM is to promote and communicate development through radio broadcasting. Because most rural areas are hard to reach, it makes it hard for information to travel into these areas. Radio is a great tool to send out information. Our frequency goes out to a lot of rural parts of the Kompiam District. There is no other radio frequency close that people can listen to.

One of the main things that I focus on is health awareness.  We have our hospital staff come in to do health awareness broadcasts because they can’t possibly go to every single village to share health awareness.  The terrain in the highlands just makes it too hard.

Most people in these rural areas are not aware of what is going on in different parts of Papua New Guinea, so we provide national news for them. Many people have personally come to express their gratitude for our news casts. It’s a big thing for them to know what’s going on in our country and what is happening in the government. We also do gospel programs over the weeks and include sermons in our programs.

I’ve learned and still am learning to depend on God’s strength and wisdom every single day to do my job.  Every day my day starts at 6:30am and goes until 10:00pm. I’m pretty worn out mentally and physically by the end of almost every week. But it has taught me to depend on God, because I honestly would not accomplish much in my job if God weren’t there by my side. He has taught me to depend on him when I’m down or worn out. He is my strength. Every single day.  I wouldn’t have learned this much and matured in my faith like I have, I wouldn’t be who I am now, if I had taken my own road instead of the road God planned for me. He has he showed me what I need to do in the future. I need to give back and serve the people of my country with whatever skill, gift, and talent God has blessed me with. I have peace with where I am right now, and I have realized the purpose of my life: To glorify God in everything I do. I still need to understand better the meaning of these things.

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT

Heart to Heart, Glory to Glory P.2/3

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story by Kairu Tumae

(Kairu is a Papua New Guinean graduate from the Ukarumpa International School, this is his testimony continued…)

It all started on graduation night when Dr. David Mills came up to me and congratulated me. He told me that if I ended up not going to college, if I was still interested in medicine, to give him a call and come visit him at Kompiam District Hospital. After saying goodbye to all my classmates, I decided to call the Mills family and I headed up to Kompiam to stay a couple months with them.

After just a few days in Kompiam, I was ashamed of myself for not truly knowing my country. I realized that much of PNG still lacks the basic services that people need and many kids, teens, and young adults in my generation don’t realize it – just like me.

During the months I was up in Kompiam, I assisted Mrs. Mills at the primary school, helped out with maintenance, and of course went on medical patrols. The patrols showed me so much.

First of all, I saw the need for the Word of God. Sure there are churches out there but many people still don’t understand the Truth. People still mix traditional beliefs with the Gospel. I realized, too, that there is a big need for Papua New Guineans ourselves to be missionaries to our own people. We cannot expect missionaries to be expatriates only.

The second thing I saw was the great medical need that many people groups in my country have. Pregnant moms and sick or injured people have to walk more than to two hours to get to the closest health center or aid post, traversing many steep hills and rocky mountain paths, which turn to slippery mud in the rainy season. It’s a tough walk for them.

Some people have to walk more than five hours or even up to full day to reach Kompiam station. From there they can travel to Wabag or Hagen. Now imagine having to carry someone who is very ill, or perhaps has multiple gunshot wounds from a tribal fight, in a homemade stretcher while trying to cross fast-moving rivers, climb mountains, and descend steep muddy paths for many hours to reach the nearest hospital with a doctor.

After a few months with the Mills family I went back home.  Just before I departed, Dr. Mills mentioned briefly that they needed someone to run their small radio station. I left Kompiam hoping to find a job near my parents and earn some money to save up for college, but God brought me back to Kompiam.

I came back up to Kompiam in the beginning of February 2017 to start running the small community radio station called Sauan 99.9 FM, which is under the care of the mission hospital. I had no training whatsoever, I had never talked on a radio, and I didn’t know how to use the equipment! The one thing I did know was that God wanted me to be in Kompiam even if it meant doing something that was totally new to me.

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT

Heart to Heart, Glory to Glory P.1/3

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Story by Kairu Tumae

(Kairu is a Papua New Guinean graduate from the Ukarumpa International School, this is his testimony continued…)

After graduating in 2016, my plan was to go to college. I mean that’s what most people expect you to do right?  Go to a nice college, pursue a career, get a good job and make your parents proud. At least that is what most Papua New Guinean’s families and relatives expect when they are attending an international school, as I was.

This expectation was one of the biggest things I struggled with after finishing high school.  I watched all my friends leave and go to college. My parents were going through a hard time financially so it wasn’t possible for me to continue my studies right immediately.  However, over this past year God has taught me so much more than I could have learned by sitting in a classroom.

Often we tend be so focused on what we ourselves desire that we start thinking that our desires and plans are the same plans and desires that God has for us. Then we start praying for those plans in our life that we think are God’s plans, not realizing that they aren’t. We keep praying and the plans never happen and we ask God, “Why are you not fulfilling your plan in my life?” Then it hits us. All that time it wasn’t God’s plan, it was ours. God had a different plan all along and had been working on that plan while we were complaining. One of the biggest things that I have learned this past year is exactly that: not letting my own selfish desire overcome me so much that I start thinking it’s God’s plan. Many teens do that without even realizing it and learning from it.

When I graduated from high school in 2016 I had no clue whatsoever that I would be in place like Kompiam working with a mission this early in my life. I had planed since 11th grade to take pre-med classes in the United States after I graduated. I took all the science classes I could. Whenever people asked me what I wanted to do after high school, I told them I hoped to go to the US to study pre-med and come back and serve people in my country in the medical field. Little did I know that while I was planning all of this, God had a plan for me to serve people in my country now without having to go to college.

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT

Spontaneous Worship

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By Rachel Greco

When mission organizations first landed in an area in Papua New Guinea, they were faced with about fifty languages. The organizations decided to find a dominant language and translate the Bible into that language as well as songbooks, materials for schools, etc. When the mission traveled to a neighboring language, they taught the people this dominant language, so that they became bilingual.

In the Rabaul area, the dominant language, or language of wider communication, was Kuanua. Wherever the church traveled in these first days, they took Kuanua with them. Now, several generations later, no one has been schooled in Kuanua, however it is still used in some churches because there are a few people from that language group still scattered throughout this part of Papua New Guinea.

The churchgoers in this area are reverent and quiet in the services. But when the Baining people are able to use their language, Ure, in the service instead of Kuanau, the difference is as huge as the ocean. “It’s electric, like someone has turned on the lights,” one of the language helpers for the Baining people said.

People will clap, kneel, raise their hands in the air, confess sins, praise God, and dance. No one came in and taught the Baining people how to do these things; it is all spontaneous, a rush of joy and delight in their God bursting out of their hearts as they’re able to worship Him in their own language.

Sometimes if an outsider is at one of these church services, they prefer to listen to the service in the language of the Baining people because of the passionate atmosphere, even though they can’t understand the words. The people’s spontaneous worship contrasts so sharply with the usual quiet, reserved behavior of the Baining people, and reveals that their love for the Lord is real.