Kwaelom was a man used by the Lord. He wasn’t by any means a man that one would quickly look at and see great leadership potential. He didn’t have a strong or loud personality. He wasn’t the most respected man in Siawi. He wasn’t the best orator in Siawi by any means. In fact, his speech was slow sort of like the rest of Kwaelom. But he was and forever will be a man changed by the Gospel. If you were to ask him when he believed he would quickly spout off: “Septemba 25, 1992″. And from that day on, even with some ups and downs spiritually, the Lord used him as a wonderful witness and testimony of the power that is contained in the Gospel. For nearly 20 years everyone in the village looked to Kwaelom as a man of God. He was a good teacher of the word and a close friend. I can remember week after week during our nightly discipleship meetings seeing Kwaelom get up very slowly from the floor. I would ask him how he was and he would say his back was full of pain. He always seemed to be struggling with bouts of malaria. His body was getting older and more feeble and yet he kept on. Now he is in glory. Now he recognizes the rest we have in Christ and the wonderful joy of undefiled and sweet fellowship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God’s ways are truly glorious and wonderful! Please pray for the 3 remaining Siawi elders: Beyeme, Nokee and Mabou. Pray the Lord would continue to allow these men to function in plurality. Pray the Lord would raise up more faithful men like Kwaelom to shepherd the Siawi believers.
Archive for the ‘Ministry’ Category
Well, a little note is well past due to many of you. To say we’ve been busy and detained from being able to write an update would be a major understatement. We just returned from travelling over 5000 miles on the “Swanson Tour” and have so much to be thankful for. In spite of having some close calls with weather fronts which included lots of snow and even some freezing fog the Lord kept us out of bad weather. In fact, during the 6 weeks of driving we only had to drive in about 3 hours total of “bad weather”. Our van on loan from “Righteous Rides” drove very smoothly and the Lord allowed us to discover a problem with the radiator and a belt pulley and get these items fixed. Praise God we were able to get this work done before we were left stranded on some little highway. Another unexpected blessing was seeing an eye doctor in Idaho who, after running numerous tests on Kara’s eyes, informed us that she wouldn’t need months of eye therapy to get her eyes on track. In fact, this kind man was able to get Kara fitted for glasses and had them made for her within one hour and then didn’t charge us! The children did a fabulous job travelling all those hours in the van and enjoyed learning about each state we travelled through and visiting so many different places.
We had a wonderful time reconnecting with our supporting churches and friends. Thanks to all of you who made these travels possible and housed us! We were blessed to be with each of you. Everywhere we went there were great times of fellowship and sharing what the Lord has done over the last 4 years. It was a joy to visit with Shannon’s sister and to have our neice, Riesa, travel to some locations with us (pictured between Blake and Kara in the picture on left). The Lord was gracious to us also in blessing us with so many different places to stay. We were able to go on some nice hikes, a horse and carriage ride, swim in some heated pools, visit a dairy farm with Shannon’s Aunt and Uncle, go surfing in the cold California ocean, spending Thanksgiving with Jason’s mom, sister and family (pictured below on right) and sled as a family all over beautiful Crested Butte, Colorado. The Lord also opened up the opportunity for us to visit with a friend of Kara’s who owns 14 Wallabies. Needless to say Kara was in ‘Wallaby Heaven’. All that in between sharing and recounting the wonderful work the Lord has done among the Siawi people over the last 4 years! We are so thankful for the many opportunities the Lord brought before us.
We are planning a move for the remainder of our Home Assignment time! Lord willing, around January 7th, we will be moving to beautiful Indiana. A church in Indiana that has been praying for us for many years has invited us to move close to them in order to be a blessing to us and become a new sending church for us! We are so excited about the possibilities to be ministered to and minister. Please pray for this wonderful opportunity. Pray the Lord would use us for His glory and give us all a place where we fit in and feel a part of the body. We will continue to home school in Indiana and use Indiana as our center of operations from here on out during our Home Assignment. We are scheduled to share at both New Tribes Bible Schools in January and March. We are also doing a Mission’s Conference in California in early March. Pray that we would get settled in to a routine quickly and easily in Indiana. Pray also the Lord would raise up our monthly support and outgoing costs for our return to PNG in summer 2012. At present we are right around 57% support level. We are trusting the Lord to raise this up to near 80% before we return.
During the last few days of November about 50 Siawis travelled down to the neighboring people group to take part in a large multi people group Christian Conference. This was much like the same conference I travelled with 14 Siawis to last year over the mountain. This year the Siawis were responsible to handle several of the teaching times, a day of music, and help out in preparing much needed sago to help feed everyone. If you remember last year there was a shortage of food and many of us got sick. This people group is located on the Sepik river and as such have access to lots of fish. They do not have access to much sago. So an agreement was made where the Siawis would help supply sago for this Christian conference. It sounded like this church did an amazing job preparing everything. Apparently, there was enough food made this time around that the people attending had enough to take some home with them. Without any involvement or help from Linda nor myself we were very encouraged to hear that two of the Siawi elders did a good job sharing God’s word. They had to teach in the trade language of Pidgin English which often times is more difficult for them as they are used to teaching in Siawi. What was really shocking to hear was how the Siawis did some sort of “drama” to illustrate the points of their teaching. This is definitely getting out of their comfort zone and their traditional way of doing things. Praise God for the work He is doing in and through the different believers up and down the Sepik and in that region of the world. Praise God, too, for the things He is doing to accomplish His will all over the world.
As we look forward to the days ahead and the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I am again reminded of the magnitude of this momentous occasion. To think that God became man is seriously far too great a thought for me to fully comprehend. Although there are many things about the birth of Christ that I enjoy contemplating during this time of year there is one thing that always comes back to me and sticks out. One thing that I desire above all others for my children to grasp the significance of. One thing that I really don’t think we really will truly understand until we are ushered into Glory and able to behold God for who He truly is. That is the simple yet unimaginable truth of the Christmas story: God Incarnate. God became man. There is really nothing simple about it. The baby we celebrate was like no other child. Oh yes, we can dress Him up in swaddling clothes and behold Him in the lowly manger but still He is more. Greatness, majesty, sinless perfection in the form of a little baby. What an amazing thought! Truly our God’s love and grace knows no measure.
Celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, together with you all,
Jason for Shannon, Kara, Blake, Wesley and Kylie
Although our 21 days of “the loving your wife testing time (AKA.. Love Dare)” are just about done now I wanted to pass on some of the highlights to you all so you could be praying. If I had known so many men would be interested and stick it out I would have had you all praying from the beginning. I have been real busy trying to keep this love dare going. Pray the Lord would use this illuminating time to transform marriages in Siawi to God honoring unions. We will finish this 21 day time on Sunday. I think this prayer by Noke on Day 15 of the love dare gives a pretty good glimpse into how the Lord has been using this time to broaden the Siawi men’s mindset on what it means to love their live wives.
“Oh Father Koto. Help us. We are not good at loving our wives. Before we didn’t know what the road of loving our wives was like. We didn’t know how big and hard that road is. Now we know and we are wanting to love them and follow you. But it is hard. We are not strong. But for you nothing is hard. Thank you for our brother here. We didn’t ask him to come and tell us how to love our wives. No, we didn’t say that but you knew we were short (meaning we were lacking in love for our wives). So, you shot Tiesen’s heart and now he is coming and showing us how to love our wives. Day after day he has come in the early morning. And this work is strengthening us. He’s just a man but you are the far-above-all-one. Because of that we ask you to help us. That is all.”
* 38 men are attending including many young single men who want to learn how to love their future wives. These are Ofamo, Mokosiale, Sifeli, Luben, Mak, Jonah, and Tomas. * The first day of the love dare some men from a Sepik tribe (Bifro) came up wanting to let the Siawis know that they were ready for repaying them for the Pandanas fruit they got from them several months ago. This was a temptation to many of the Siawis to stop the love dare and go eat. Kawi, Yineb (and later I heard Mabou was asked as well) were asked to travel to Bifro to have a huge feast of sweet potatoes. Kawi then came to me asking if he could go since his wife was leaving. Yineb was planning on just sending his wife. He had God’s work to do here. I later met with both men to explain that in order to do this God’s work you had to be with your wife. So, if they wanted to go I would allow it but they needed to come back fast. Yineb still wanted to let his wife go by herself. I explained that this work was all going to be directed at your wife. You can’t practice loving on her if she isn’t here at the village. Even after several times of explaining this Yineb was still lost. Finally it took both Kawi and myself to convince him that he couldn’t do this without his wife being near:) * As I was leaving the building with one of the Siawi men on the second day of the love dare he called his wife to him. He then gave her his string bag, bibles, notepad and pen. She didn’t look very pleased and I’ve seen them fight over this very issue before. Today, we were supposed to show our love for our wives by doing something nice for them. By helping them out in a new way that we hadn’t done before. I quickly told this man, “Brother, your road for helping your wife is open and right there. Look, you go take her bag and carry that stuff for her back to your house.” He looked at me and then at his wife and back at me and said, “You want me to go up to her get her bilum and carry it back to the house?” She was getting closer to the church door and almost ready to go outside now. I told him that I was merely putting in the clear a road to serve his wife. He looked back at me and then his wife. And turned his shoulders and looked down at the floor and walked away saying, “I’m not ready yet. Let me consider how to help her first.” * The Lord lead me after the first day to a man who can’t read yet in Siawi. He seems to be a man who looks after his wife well so I asked him if he wanted to come to the class on learning how to love your wife. He said yes but couldn’t read to do the homework. I told him that I was going to be reading everyday what loving your wife each day looks like and what verses from the bible talk about that particular day’s work. It was neat to see Yalemou come the next day to the Love Dare time. * On the second day where men were supposed to help their wives in new/creative ways it was mentioned by several men that if they did what I was talking about (like carry water to the house, help cook sak sak, clean up under their house or carry fire wood-all historically work done only by women) they would get shame. I said yes, the road to loving your wife might be one of getting shame. But let’s remember our example Jesus. Did he take shame for us? Then let’s be willing to take shame for Him. * Some men thought that when they did work for their wives such as cooking the sak sak that wouldn’t be good because their wives would become lazy and just sit around:). (So, it’s okay for you to sit around all day and watch your wife work but she can’t do the same to you? You aren’t to concern yourself with how your wife responds but more importantly helping your wife because that is what God’s word tells us we should be doing). * One man came to me and said he helped his wife with the cooking of the sak sak. He did okay with the actually cooking of the sak sak and mixing it with water. But when it came time to turn the sak sak or cut it and pull it out of the pot with sticks he kept dropping it. His wife told him to go outside because he didn’t know what he was doing. I did alright he said:). * On the third day men were encouraged to show their love for their wives by “giving” them something. You could make something with your hands or give them their favorite garden food or give them the best piece of meat from an animal you shoot. Or if you don’t have any food right now you can come to our house and do a little work and use the pay to buy your wife some food. Several men came to our house and traded food with us for some noodle soup packets which they like to mix with their vegetables. Generally men only want to trade things for batteries. And each of these men told me they were getting the food for their wives. * Some men asked what they should do when they gave food to only their wives and their children began crying and getting angry because they didn’t get any food. I told them to use it as a teaching time like Ephesians says. Teach your children that you love your wife and that is why you are looking after her. Christ gave up his body for us children and so I like Him, am giving some of my food to your mom. * “What if I decide to get her something from town later? Can I wait until then?” Malakai remarked. Hoping to get out of today’s rather difficult love dare. “That is a great thinking. Listen. Later, when you go to Town don’t forget about your wife. Buy something for her then. And give her something today too. Do both.” * The next day I was talking with Malakai again and he said something about giving his wife a shirt. Apparently there was a shirt he got from Town that his wife really liked and before she asked him if she could have it. He said no. But yesterday, the Spirit reminded of this and he went up to her and gave it to her. He told me it went something like this. “ Here. Take this.” His wife then looks at the shirt and says , “Are you giving this to me?” He says, “Yes, but if you don’t want I’ll keep it.” His wife then says, “No way. I like this shirt. I’m taking it.” * The next day again had more to do with helping your wife and showing her your love through your actions. I encouraged the guys to again help their wives with carrying fire wood or cooking sak sak or washing the dishes. The next day Beiyem told me he was very tired cause he was busy cooking sak sak and doing the dishes and carrying two loads of firewood to the house. * The next day had to do with speaking kind words to your wife so I was having the Siawi men telling their wives good things about them. I told them to tell their wives they make good sak sak. I said if your wife makes sak sak that isn’t all sticky(that would be the equivalent of a meal done right)- then tell her she did a good job making the sak sak. If you wife doesn’t hit your children in anger today tell her she followed God’s talk well about not spanking your children in anger. After I read the verse and challenged everyone with their speech the room became very quiet. I asked everyone what was wrong. Finally, one man said, “Tiesen, we don’t talk like that. We don’t say sweet talk to our wives. That isn’t our way.” “Okay then”, I said. “Starting today let’s work on changing that. With God’s help you can say a kind word to your wife. I know you can. Let’s see what happens.” * Other days were similar days finding the men loving their wives through not answering back in anger or too quickly. Then we had one full day where they were supposed to practice just “listening” to their wives. There was another day where they were supposed to help their wives before they asked them for help. About this time somesone said. “my wife asked me today what I was doing. Why I was helping her all the time. Tiesen, what am I supposed to say to her? We’re supposed to keep this work we’re doing hidden, right? I don’t want to tell her this is a class:).” I told the young man to tell her you are trying to follow God’s straight road. Tell her you are glad she is the wife God gave you. Tell her you have no plans to get a second wife. You are fine with just her. You are trying to love her and that means helping her. Tell her somehting like that. * When I said that someone else said , “Oh it’s that sweet talk again we’re supposed to be giving our wives.” This is hard work. Day after day helping our wives. And my wife doesn’t notice. * Another man said yes, my wife hasn’t noticed but my kids have. They have asked others what I am doing. Why am I helping out ladies? * A man with several wives voiced his frustration. “For me, it’s like this. When I try to do something for one wife the other wife’s children get mad at me. They say stop doing that for her and help our mom. The road for loving my wives is never easy for me.” * On one of the days around day 12 they were supposed to do some work together. Work together with your wife in the garden or something but do it together. The next day one man said. “Yep, we went to the garden. Actually I arrived at the garden after her and the kids. She worked over there and I worked over here. I finished my side of the work early and went home. She came home after I did. That’s what I did but I don’t think that is what you meant is it? You wanted us to work the garden together. But we don’t do that. Maybe we shouldn’t call this part of the garden mine and that part her’s? Is that what you are saying?” That was a huge statement. The Siawis are always micromanaging their garden food. Only the husband can eat his planted food. It was neat to see them seeing that maybe they could begin to garden with everyone in mind. * Another man said. “I’ve got some talk about the garden. Yes, I go to the garden but I always fill my wife’s string bag with all the heavy bananas I can. And the papayas. I don’t want to carry them because they are heavy. I let her carry the heavy stuff home and then I eat it. (he laughs then looks down in shame) But now I am thinking that isn’t the way of loving our wives is it? Making them do all the heavy work. Is that something else that we should be changing? Wow, brother Tiesen we really don’t know about this way of loving our wives. This is all a new thing for us.” * A couple days later another man said. “What about the way we let our wives carry all the firewood, the children and a bilum full of food on the airstrip when we’re walking home. Is that okay, when all we are carrying is our knife? That seems to fall short too.(meaning isn’t good)” * On day 15 the men were encouraged to spend some time in prayer with their wives only. That sparked all sorts of comments. “My kids are always in the way. I don’t think I can do that without them messing up our time.” Another man said that he and his wife pray at night after they give their kids some food and water and they are all sleepy. * Another man wanted to know exactly how you pray. “Does your wife take some prayers and then you take some. Or am I supposed to be the only one to pray.” Great question, I said. I guess it depends on your wife. You need to get to the place where you are both praying. But maybe your wife will be ashamed to pray with at first. What do you guys think? Many men said their wives wouldn’t be willing to pray with them. Then you teach her how for the first couple of times and let her know you won’t laugh at her or anything. God desires us to pray to Him. * A couple days later some of the men started talking about how their prayer time with their wives was going. Yalemou man said his wife didn’t want to pray with him. She was too tired. Well, maybe she was tired from doing sak sak, did you try the next night? Yes, he said. I have asked her for 3 days now and she doesn’t want to pray and she doesn’t want me to talk about God’s word either. (Pray for Yalemou and his wife). * On day 17 we talked about how love gives sacrficially. I encouraged the guys to give their wives something of theirs that their wife didn’t have. I wasn’t sure this would go well. After all, the Siawis have almost nothing to call their own. And yet I knew of many men who sleep on mattresses or inside mosquito nets or with bed sheets while their wives and kids are left with nothing. Many men started saying things like this. “Oh we don’t have many things. We don’t have multiple bed sheets or mosquito nets. We have only one. We are people from inside the bush (meaning we aren’t the rich city people). If I give something that will leave me with nothing.” * The next day different men were saying how they didn’t do yesterday’s love test. They thought about it but didn’t do it. Then Yaniwi said this. “Oh last night I was wanting to sleep but I couldn’t lie. I knew it was there. So I opened up the box and gave my wife the bed sheet that was hidden. You know the one we got from the Government.” * Later on Mesiau came to my office and said this. “Yesterday I didn’t understand what you meant about giving my wife something. Did you mean food or water for her to drink or what? We each have a mosquito net and a bed sheet. Then as I was leaving the church building the Spirit told me to give her my extra battery for her flashlight. So, I gave it to her. I told her that I was happy that God had given her to me. I told her Tiesen didn’t tell me to give this to you. The Spirit shot my heart. This is how you walk the loving your wife road. She took the flashlight and her eyes brightened up. She was pleased.”
Here is an update of what is happening as of August 2010.
I wanted to give you all an update on how things are going with the teaching of God’s word and the church here. When we returned everyone was very excited about hearing more truth from God’s word. I started teaching again through 1 Corinthians and meeting with the teachers each week. It became apparent that there are definitely some areas that everyone was struggling with. First, I noticed they were no longer taking an offering. When I enquired there was no response and it took a lot of prodding with the teachers before one of them finally said that everyone was scared. It turns out some people started talking about how God would punish someone if they did offering in a bad way. The teaching from Acts and Ananias and Saphira had been discussed again as some people from other surrounding villages had recently gotten sick after attending church where they possibly hadn’t done the offering the right way. Could it be that the same talk in 1 Corinthians about believers abusing the Lord’s table and being punished also had ramifications for offering? In any case none of the teachers had any good answers or wanted to keep pushing everyone to continue on with the offering. So, they put the collection box away and forgot about it for several months:). This took several days to flush out through the teaching of God’s word and yet when I finished explaining how those 2 biblical accounts were happening in a different time- there was still much apprehension. Yes, trying to explain what lying to the Holy Spirit means, and transitional times in a foreign language is rather tricky but I do believe they were understanding. What I found out later was that a certain man, who is actually related to one of our Siawi believers, had suddenly become blind in the last several months. And everyone was saying that it was because he had taken communion wrong. As a result, none of the ladies here in Siawi wanted to do communion. Again, more time was spent in the word teaching why we take communion and what is the purpose and why people might think that abusing this ordinance today can have terrible consequences. But they didn’t need to be afraid. This was a wonderful time to give praise and adoration to the ONE who had purchased us with His blood. I believe now everyone is standing on the word and looking forward to taking communion on Sunday August 15th. Please pray. This will be the first time that we have taken communion together as a group. Some of the Siawi believers did take communion back in 1992 with Ron Lindsey. After we taught in 2005 we heard many superstitious and wrong ideas about communion so we have been waiting until the body of Christ here truly understood its significance, purpose and place in the gathering of believers. We are very excited. Please pray that God would be honored. The teaching of Corinthians has really served as a wonderful backdrop for allowing the Siawi believers to see that they must be single minded and united in regards to sin and other things such as communion. They are seeing from God’s word how they are to function as a body of believers. They are definitely gaining a true perspective on who they are as a local church and how they should function. Many of them are recognizing that their lives are not a good mirror of Christ’s likeness. They are desiring to change. Some have come forward wanting to be baptized. I have handed this over to the bible teachers and they are busy making sure these people are clear on what baptism is and what these people are trusting in. God seems to be pricking the hearts of some of the men in the village as they come by my office quite often and ask for prayer. Some of them have asked specifically for prayer as they seek to get their life in check. Others have asked for prayer as they must stand up and honor God during times of trial. Please pray for Beiyeme, Noa, and Mesiau.
By His Grace alone, Jason for Shannon, Kara, Blake, Wesley and Kylie
Lord willing the Swanson’s will be returning to Siawi this month. Please pray for a smooth transition back into village life. Pray that not too many things would break down and the kids and Shannon would have a wonderful time getting back into life in Siawi. Pray that the teaching of 1 Corinthians would continue to bring Glory to God and equip our dear brothers and sisters in Christ to live Godly lives. Also pray for Shannon and the juggling of homeschooling, relationships with our friends, and the demands of everyday life. Praise God for leading us back into Siawi. Pray for stamina and endurance for Linda as she tries to finish the last 4 books of the New Testament she has to still translate (Hebrews, 2 Corinthians, Mathew and John). To God be the Glory. What a tremendous work of God to think about her finishing the New Testament Translation next summer!
Jer 29:11-12 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
God has a purpose and plan for all that happens in this world. Of that we are confident. Whatever comes our way, we know for certain, it has come through the loving filter of our great and wonderful God. Moving out to our supply center in December was a very uncertain move. We were uncertain about Shannon’s health. We were uncertain how the Siawi body of Christ would respond in our absence. And we were uncertain whether the Lord might be leading us home to America. And yet, in the midst of the uncertainty there was a quiet and very assured peace and calm. God was and is still in control. We have now lived in the town where our supply center is located for the Sepik region for the last 5 months and seen God’s hand at work in many different areas. The body of believers continues to meet several times a week. The bible teachers have had numerous opportunities to strengthen their faith and grow in their shepherding skills. Four Siawi men and 1 Anu and one Amto man were able to come to supply center for the Sepik region for an intensive look at how to study the word and disciple others. We have seen more and more care taken for other believers as people give an offerering each week to the Lord. There has also been great enroudes made on constructing their own Siawi worship songs. The outreach to Anu and Amto continues to go strong. Each week 8 men , sometimes accompanied by their wives and children travel the 5 hour hike. This is not done for pay or praise of man but so the Anu and Amto might hear God’s word in their own heart language.
I, Jason, over the last 6 months have made 5 one-week trips into Siawi alone to teach the word of God to the Siawi believers and disciple. These teaching times have proven very profitable not only to illuminate new truth from God’s word but also as a really good sharpening time with the key believers. As different struggles come up and they are forced to deal with these issues alone, without me, they are learning to function as a group of men sharing leadership. This is God’s design for the church. They have also been given lots of opportunities to teach from God’s word as well. All in all we are very encouraged with how the beleivers are doing and applying God’s word to their lives. There are still many more things which they must learn in order to be equipped to function on their own. But with the completion of 1 Corinthians quickly approaching, it is exciting to consider teaching through 1 and 2nd Timothy. As we strive to train up and disciple these fellow believers in Christ we have been reminded that it is God’s Word that is the key. God’s Word truly is sufficient and adequate. It can do the work it was set out to accomplish. Please pray that Linda would finish the New Testament translation in the next year. This will cost around $20,000 for printing and binding. If any of you would like to give to this project you can send the financial gift to NTM and merely designate on the check: For the Siawi Translation Project.