Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bariai SALT - July 2012

Bariai S.A.L.T. - July 10 - 23

Dear Mick,   I’m writing to you to report about the Bariai  SALT course that ended last week. Carol Jean and I are absolutely thrilled, privileged, and grateful beyond words for the fabulous blessing that the SALT course was to our Bariai friends and to us personally. I can’t state it more positively, or say enough good things about it, but the course really hit the nail on the head for the people who attended. Especially on the heels of the Scripture dedication, it was a thrill to see people so eager and ready to use their brand new tok ples Bibles, and to see how effective those Scriptures and course contents were at addressing the most important aspects of their lives. I have to say that apart from the Scripture dedication itself, the SALT course was the most positive and exciting thing that has happened in our 19 years among the Bariai people.

Pastor Fred teaching

Pastor Fred, Keh, Marjan, Carol Saferita, and Lupe all worked together with Carol Jean and me to make what became a really tight-knit group. A big highlight for Carol Jean and me was all the good fellowship we had with the teachers, the prayers, laughter, and unity which we all enjoyed throughout the two weeks. Part of me wished the whole thing wouldn’t end.  We could tell that the Holy Spirit was the one in charge of things, but we also felt really comfortable with Pastor Fred’s wisdom and godly leadership. The Lord has blessed this man with a gift for doing this ministry and our Bariai friends quickly learned to trust him, even though they are Catholic.

 Instructors use a variety of teaching methods

We appreciated the variety of teaching methods used by the team which included, drama, story-telling, lecture, and both individual and group and activities. The course posters were a great visual reminder of the course content, and our people kept on pointing to those posters when they were sharing with each other and with the group about the things they were learning and how the course was helping them. Pastor Fred, Keh, and Carol taught the group in Pidgin, while Marjan and Lupe used English which was translated sentence by sentence into tok ples. It was a very good thing to have this variety, because it helped to hold the attention of the group throughout the long days of the course, much better than if it had all been in Pidgin, or had all been translated. A number of times it seemed like the Pidgin was part of something that was blocking people from really processing the content, almost as if they were being lulled to sleep. But the vast majority of the time, this was not a problem because the teachers were all pouring out their hearts and presenting their lessons with a Spirit-led passion that was obviously authentic.

 Reading the Bariai Scriptures

We also appreciated how the question box was handled by the teachers, and how they carefully and lovingly answered the questions that came up among the participants. We also appreciated how they included us in the discussions ahead of time about how to best answer a question. We appreciated how the teachers quite effectively used the course outline and content, and yet were by no means slavishly bound to this. This meant that the participants were receiving something even more substantial than if it had been a strict adherence to the content and outline. We appreciated how the teachers were led of the Holy Spirit to include additional things, especially their personal life experiences and testimonies. They were really good about keeping things moving along without us feeling too rushed. We also appreciated how they included some additional things that were particularly hot topics for our people such as how to live in freedom from reliance upon various forms of magic and to bring those life issues to God instead.

All of us on the team were keenly aware of the spiritual battle that was being waged against the forces of darkness. Through the loving and patient presentation of the truth from God’s word, and all the prayers we were offering up, we felt that an atomic bomb was dropped on Satan’s dominion there. There is still a significant amount of spiritual darkness and bondage among the Bariai people in the form of Mary-worship and the whole system of traditional belief, but the course participants were clearly and repeatedly shown the way to freedom, and I believe a significant number are taking that pathway.

We also appreciated how Marjan used a skit to show how Jesus gives us direct access to God, and thus we don’t need a go-between such as St. Mary or anything else. This was presented in such a sensitive and loving manner that there was no way our Catholic denomination brothers and sisters could feel offended or alienated. Rather, they were challenged by the undeniable truth. Pastor Fred, Carol, and Keh also gave them much food for thought about traditional beliefs.

We also appreciated how the teachers continually promoted the reading of the tok-ples Scriptures and course content, even though they could never be quite sure precisely what was actually being communicated in tok ples.  However, Carol Jean and I and our Bariai friends could clearly see that this bilingual presentation of the message of truth was very effective.

The participants, in cooperation with our translation committee, are planning to continue doing outreaches in all the villages. We had 45 participants and 40 graduates. They have made a decision to continue doing the outreaches until all 19 lessons have been presented in all 8 villages. We’re praying that they are able to fulfill this commitment with God’s enablement.


 We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Marjan, Carol, Fred, Keh, and Lupe for the privilege of getting to know them and to sharing their lives and hearts with us and the Bariai people for these two weeks. I personally feel God has done something in my own life through all this experience together. I’m challenged to pray more, be more authentic in my faith and devotion, and to reach out in love to others. These are things that can grow stale for us who spend so many long years in a program. The SALT team was a much-needed breath of fresh air – a wonderful blessing beyond words!!

Most gratefully yours,  Steve and Carol Jean Gallagher 

Bariai S.A.L.T. course graduates