After waiting for five years and praying for a child, God has graciously blessed Pita and Jetina with a new little boy. It has not been easy for this young couple to wait patiently on the Lord, and at times it has really tried their faith. We’re so thankful that Peter did not cave in to the social pressure to take a second wife, but was willing to continue trusting the Lord.
It was a privilege for me to be with Jetina during her long night of labor, half of which was spent outside underneath the stars until it became too cold for all of us, causing us to take refuge inside an empty house where a fire was started. I am so thankful for the Lord’s protection over Jetina and her baby boy, whose cord was wrapped around his neck. It was an answer to prayer and a true joy to share this special moment with my sister in Christ.
We can hardly believe that there are only about four more weeks left in this school year! At the end of May Rachel will be graduating from high school and Jason will be graduating from sixth grade. Both of them have had a wonderful year at Numonohi Christian Academy and we are truly grateful to Chris and Peggy Bittner for opening their home to our children as well as several other students whose parents live far from the school. Rachel and Jason have enjoyed being together this year as well as building close relationships with their dorm siblings and fellow students. We also thank the Lord for the dedicated teachers at NCA and their love for the Lord and each of our children. What a privilege it has been to have them on our team, doing their part to see the Simbari and other people groups in PNG reached with the good news of Christ!
The Simbari church continues studying the book of 1st Corinthians. Many of the Simbari Bible teachers are still out in town which has given David more teaching opportunities than usual. An unexpected benefit of being short on teachers is how it has encouraged two previously uninvolved men to begin attending leadership development meetings with David. It’s a blessing to meet with these men and hear them acknowledging their weakness and yet be willing to stretch their faith and let God use them to serve the needs the Simbari church.
We are thankful a Simbari Bible teacher named Rison has returned from town. Rison had been under some economic stress recently when his son, Gwandambi, was out in town in the hospital. After returning to the tribe Rison continued to worry about Gwandambi’s need for future surgery and so went back out to town to search for employment in order to earn some money. But God worked in his heart and led him to come back home to his family and the church. After apologizing to the church he said he had left God’s work and went looking for money work in town because he wasn’t trusting God. He said he had acted like Jonah and had run away from the work God had for him. He was thankful that, unlike Jonah, nothing bad had to happen for him to see that he wasn’t trusting. All this occured without even a word from us missionaries. Things like this are all part of the slow growth process of the church.
2 Corinthians is a complex book and difficult to translate. David’s translation skills have really been stretched as he worked on the preliminary draft of this book. It’s definitely been the hardest book he’s translated so far. But as 2 Cor. 12:9 says: “My grace is sufficient for you” by God’s grace he was able to complete the preliminary draft recently. There are still a lot of procedures to be done before it is complete but the preliminary draft is a major chunk of the work to have out of the way.
A couple weeks ago we had a farewell feast for Rachel who is about to graduate and leave PNG. (see pictures here) We only have about a month left in the tribe before heading out for her graduation. After that we will leave PNG for a 1 year home assignment. We’re still trying to get our house in Calif. fixed up enough to move into when we get home. Please pray for good progress on that in the next couple months. Also pray for us with all we have to do during these remaining weeks in the tribe. We look forward to seeing you soon!
ps. here are a few more pictures: April 2013 Photo Album
Happy Easter from Simbari!
Here is a little video clip of a Simbari mother, Rindilav, asking her child about the Cross.
What a joy to know that the Simbari men and women of Jesus are teaching their children of what Jesus did for them through His death and resurrection. Now even this young tribal child knows of her Savior, Jesus.
Eph. 1:19 “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead…”
A few weeks ago we began teaching about love from chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians. The Simbari church has been slowly working their way teaching through the whole book of 1st Corinthians. It’s been encouraging to see their slow but steady growth from being under consistent teaching of the Word of God. By way of review we started by going back to portions they’ve already heard such as Eph. 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” and Romans 5:8 “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Point number one on the chalkboard pictured above says: “Of all the spiritual gifts the greatest is love.” We never cease to be amazed at how these wonderful truths are being clearly communicated in the Simbari language. And how the Spirit of God is using His Word in the lives of the believers. It’s a good motivation to keep making progress in Bible translation. David is still working on the exegesis and draft of 2nd Corinthians.
Rison held up his Bible today while teaching and said, “Long ago there were many mighty miracles that showed the power of God. And now we have the Word of God and it clearly shows us the power of God.” And he went on to talk about how Simbari people in the town of Port Moresby are responding to the Creation to Christ Bible teaching that is in progress down there. We’ve mentioned before about how many people have left to go out to the towns and it’s encouraging to see that the Bible teachers have adjusted to the situation and are taking the teaching to where the people are. God is at work and the group that is meeting there in town is growing. And meanwhile the group of believers back here in the tribe is rising to meet the challenges (of many key people being gone).
Speaking of challenges: Gwandambi has been making regular progress in his physical therapy and he is now up and around on crutches! He’s not moving very fast but after 6 months of immobility it’s an amazing accomplishment. Gwandambi’s dad, Rison, gave God the glory for doing the impossible and saving Gwandambi’s leg and helping him through this trial. He was so thankful to see his son make it from one end of the airstrip to the other on his own using the crutches.
Bo’wol shared a testimony today too. “There was nothing I could do to purchase my salvation. I couldn’t buy it like buying a plane ticket. But Jesus bought my salvation by the work he did on the cross for me. …the FREE gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.6:23)
On this day 25 years ago … David and Shari were married!
After exchanging our vows we sang a song to each other called, “Household of Faith”. Not long after that we moved to Papua New Guinea and have spent the last 21 years here sharing that faith with people who didn’t know about God’s love for them. We have been blessed to raise our family in such a beautiful place and have 4 amazing kids. Esther (23) is a college grad and working at a Christian camp and plans to get a teaching credential. Simon (21) has about a year left of college, he helps with youth ministry at church and wants to become a missionary school teacher. Rachel (18) is soon to graduate from high school and is planning to attend New Tribes Bible Institute(ntbi.org) in the fall so she can deepen her understanding of God’s Word as a foundation for wherever God leads her. Jason (11) is in 6th grade and loves music. Our kids are such a blessing to us. We are blessed by our families back home who have been supportive of our ministry over the years even when it meant long separations from their grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins. We are also blessed to have a new spiritual family here among the Simbari people of Papua New Guinea. God is building households of faith among them as well.
The last 25 years have been an amazing journey as our love for God and for each other has grown. We look forward to more great adventures together in the years to come. After all: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Cor. 2:9
I (Shari) have been going over to the village to check on Gwandambi ‘s progress. His parents have been helping him with the physical therapy on his leg, and I made up a chart to help him reach some daily goals. When I see that he has fulfilled his goals I give him a little prize. It brings me joy to see his face light up with a big smile and to hear his enthusiasm as he tells me how hard he has been working.
Today I brought along the lyrics for a familiar children’s’ song about David and Goliath, and reminded him that God also desires to help him overcome this “giant” in his life. I sang through it with the guitar a few times so that his parents could learn it and sing it with him.
Please continue to pray for healing and courage as Gwandambi works hard to gain mobility in his leg. The muscles seem to have contracted from lack of use and he is only able to bend his knee slightly and with much pain. Last week he cried because he wanted to come to church with his family but his leg hurt too much to even move it. But his leg is slowly beginning to regain some strength and mobility.
We look forward to the day when Gwandambi will be able to walk again and play with the other children. Thank you so much for your prayers!
Gwandambi Comes Home
After about three months in the hospital out in town Gwandambi arrived home today. It was sooo wonderful to see him and his dad, Rison, again today. They are enjoying being home again and catching up with relatives. We’re thankful Gwandambi is alive and still has his leg. However he still can’t walk and it looks like he will have a long road ahead of him to fully recover. Please pray that he will regain his strength and that he will be able to start walking again soon.
“Glorify God in your bodies”
We have been teaching through 1st Corinthians and last Sunday the lesson was in chapter 6. Verses 19 and 20 say: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” The Simbari believers know that they are redeemed by the blood of Christ and that they belong to Him. This teaching from 1st Corinthians is strengthening the church so that they can continue to bring honor to God even in the face of trials and temptations.
This was the case with Gwandambi and his dad, Rison. Throughout this whole trial they have just looked at it as an opportunity to trust God more and grow in their faith. And God was glorified through them as many of those who shared hospital beds near them saw and heard testimony of their unwavering faith.
David & Shari Ogg
The Simbari people say that there are now more of them living in the towns than out in the tribe. I’m not sure if that is the case or not but we’ve certainly seen more and more leaving to live in the towns. The economic growth in the country is centered around the towns typically leaving out the people in the rural areas. The lack of good schools and other basic services in the rural areas doesn’t help either. Whatever the reasons, indeed many Simbari people are now living in the towns. For quite some time we have been aware that our church-planting strategy needed to take this into account so that those Simbaris who live in town also have an opportunity to hear the Good News about Jesus in their own language.
Several weeks ago a Simbari Bible teacher, Raymond, left for the capital city of Port Moresby to spend a few months investigating education options for his children. Because he has a burden for the Simbari population living there he didn’t go unprepared. He brought our newly revised ‘Creation To Christ’ lesson book as well as copies of the scriptures that have been translated into the Simbari language. With these in hand he has begun an outreach and is teaching a group of 8 unbelievers(not counting kids) six days a week. He is up to the story of Adam and Eve being driven out from the garden as a result of their sin. On Sundays, he is reviewing foundational teaching with around 14 believers. Please pray that nothing would interrupt the teaching and for receptive hearts among those listening. It’s exciting to see God using these humble tribal people to reach out to the people in town. Reminds us of what we’re studying during our Sunday morning Simbari church services: 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
We just received word that Gwandambi’s blood count had improved enough for him to have surgery. So on Thursday he had surgery done on his leg. We’re not sure exactly what was done but the doctors say it was successful.
While Gwandambi remains in the hospital for recovery his father, Rison, continues taking care of him. Some of our friends in town have stopped by to visit and just the other day Rachel and Jason’s dorm was able to go and visit them too. That brought big smiles to their faces. (see picture)
So, thanks again for your continued prayers for Gwandambi, that he would heal quickly and that there would be no more infection. Rison’s family was very excited when we went over to the village to tell them the good news and show them this picture. Gwandambi’s mother was just about ready to hike out to town to try and help her son by donating blood just in case that was holding up the surgery. But now that the surgery is done she’s no longer so worried and can stay home to take care of her other kids. Thanks for your prayers for this dear family.