Thursday, October 06, 2005

Arapesh SALT

 Arapesh SALT team - May Kirkham, Mick Bandy, Lisa Detlefsen, Andrew Tiki, Bob Conrad - and friends.

Living in the village is sometimes like a perpetual camping trip. During the Filifita and Arapesh SALT courses, I slept in my tent for 27 nights! Oh, the simple pleasures in Ukarumpa -- running water, flushing toilets, stove, microwaves, etc. etc. etc. BUT, God totally blessed both SALT courses and answered so many prayers. My personal comforts and sometimes whining attitude were just weaknesses that God used for His glory.

We were working with the same Wycliffe Bible translator in both courses. Bob Conrad first came to PNG in 1962. Bob started having medical problems shortly after he arrived in country in the 60’s. He then went back to America for treatment ; and he returned to PNG several years later. The doctors in PNG told him he could only work in a village if there was road access out to a hospital.

Amazingly, Bob Conrad has completed translations of the New Testament in FOUR language groups here in PNG! The Filifita NT was dedicated in 1998; and the Arapesh NT was dedicated in 2004. Bob is an example of how God uses our weaknesses for His glory!!!

Bob and Joanne “went finish” in 2004 and moved to Dallas, Texas where he teaches at the SIL International school (GIAL). Bob is now 73 years old and this trip was his last one back to PNG. (Joanne was not able to come.) It was a tremendous honor to work with Bob Conrad on these two projects.

The famous American anthropologist, Margaret Mead, lived in Waginara village in the 1930’s and studied the Arapesh people and their culture. Of the Arapesh she wrote, “Both men and women are peaceful, gentle, cooperative, patient with children and nurturing.” The SALT team found that the Arapesh are, indeed, wonderful people!

After the Arapesh New Testament was dedicated in 2004, Wycliffe Bible Translator, Bob Conrad, then worked with the local community of churches to host a SALT course in September – October of 2005. Initially, there was a spirit of opposition between several church leaders in the area. However, God used the SALT course to bring a spirit of unity to the community and, as a result, five denominations came together to study God’s Word in their own language.

In fact, all of the leaders who had initially been in opposition attended the SALT course together; and, during the course, a spiritual revival took place in which leaders of the local Catholic church invited pastors from three different denominations (South Seas Evangelical Church, Assemblies of God and Christian Outreach Centre) to share the Gospel message during a three day mini-crusade in Waginara village.

Then, at the SALT course graduation, the Catholic Bishop drove from Wewak to speak at the ceremony. He gave the SALT course his blessing and urged the people to continue studying God’s Word in the vernacular.

Some of the people believed that this spirit of unity was, in and of itself, a miracle!

In his evaluation of the SALT course, the Arapesh Catholic Catechist, Andrew Sinara said, “Studying the New Testament in my own language has helped me to better understand the ways of God; to apply the Scriptures to my personal life, my family and my community; and to become a better leader.”

BTA translator, Aluis Simatab, teaches about “Satan’s Strategies” and “God’s Laws of Love.”

During the course, participants formed small-groups and were asked to discuss real-life community issues/problems and to seek Scriptural guidance by reading the Arapesh NT. Spokesmen from each small-group would then report their conclusions and those things that the Holy Spirit revealed to them through the written Word. In this way, the leaders were encouraged to effectively apply the vernacular Scriptures to their daily lives.

Titus reports, “The Arapesh must honor God by obeying His laws and living together in harmony.”

The overwhelming interest in SALT continues to amaze me! Again, we had planned for only 50 participants. However, 92 participants completed course requirements and became eligible for a certificate at the Arapesh SALT graduation. We are now printing additional workbooks and certificates to send back to graduates of both the Filifita and Arapesh SALT courses.

Arapesh Warrior
May Kirkham discussing unity!

We thank God for the spirit of unity that He brought to the Arapesh community.

Please pray that the Arapesh leaders will continue to urge their people to “honor God by obeying His laws and living together in harmony.”