Monday, October 03, 2005

Filifita SALT

 Bob Conrad teaching on Holiness in Ilahita.

I almost canceled the Filifita SALT course because of various obstacles; however, Wycliffe Bible Translator, Bob Conrad, asked me to persevere. God was faithful and the course exceeded all of our expectations!

We had expected less than 50 participants; and, the first day of the course only about 30 people showed up. But, as word spread throughout the village and surrounding district about what we were teaching, the people started coming in droves. About 150 people attended the course most days; and 101 pastors and lay leaders met our requirements to receive a certificate at graduation!

At the end of the course we had fourteen outreach teams go into surrounding villages to teach the Gospel message in the vernacular. As a point of reference, the Filifita language group has about 6,000 speakers. The outreach groups ministered to approximately 1,500 people, or 25% of the entire language group. For most of these people, the SALT outreach was the first time they had ever heard the Gospel preached in their own language. As a result, many new converts made a decision to follow Jesus Christ.
Filifita woman weeps as she studies, for the first time, the Word of God in her own language

One evening we listened to Rosemary give her testimony. The Filifita New Testament was dedicated in 1998. Illiteracy is a big problem in the language group, so Bob and Joanne Conrad had encouraged Rosemary to become a literacy teacher to help her people learn to read the New Testament. Rosemary received literacy training (STEP) in Ukarumpa and had then returned to the village only to find that most people were not interested; and many would even go out of their way to avoid her or tell her she was wasting her time! Rosemary had prayed to God that the people would change their hearts. She prayed that God would give the Filifita people a desire to learn to read the New Testament in their own language.
At the end of her testimony, Rosemary fell to the ground. Crying tears of joy, she thanked Bob for bringing “salt and light” to the community. She said, the SALT course was an answer to her prayers because it was creating an overwhelming interest in the Filifita people to study God’s Word in their own language!
At the SALT graduation ceremony, the local pastors even honored Rosemary for her work in literacy among the Filifita people. This evidenced a real “heart-change.” After years of praying, SALT was God’s answer to Rosemary’s prayers. Tears came to my eyes as I said a small prayer of repentance, “God, forgive me for even thinking about canceling this course!”

The Filifita SALT course was basically a partnership with South Seas Evangelical Church (SSEC) here in PNG, and we trained 101 of their pastors and lay leaders to: (1) effectively use the translated Scriptures in their ministries and (2) inspire a love, wonder and understanding of God’s Word in the vernacular. Bob Conrad observed that almost every significant SSEC leader in the district attended the Filifita SALT course.

In 2 Timothy 2:2, Jesus said, “And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”

Please pray that God will be glorified by the seeds planted at the Filifita SALT course!