Ever since the Tower of Babel, the Wantakia people have been living and dying in these mountains, planting their sweet potato gardens, raising their pigs, building their huts, wearing grass skirts, holding their stone axes and bow and arrows, and fighting with each other. They have been living in fear, “without God and without hope in this world.” Then about 70 years ago, when the Australian government came in, they stopped the tribal warfare and gave the people sauce pans, salt, soap, matches, machetes, axes and western clothes. This was a huge help to them, but it only changed them on the outside.
Now, a big change is coming. Soon (Lord willing within the next 12 months!), they will hear God’s Word in their language! They will get a chance to hear what Jesus did for them over 2,000 years ago! They will be transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light (check this quote)! We are overjoyed to have the privilege to teach them God’s Word in their language.
But, let me tell you what is going to happen in just a couple of weeks… the very first Wantakians in history will learn to read and write in their own language!
Yes, we are about to begin the first literacy class! Literacy is not only a huge felt need of the people (e.g., it is very difficult for them to simply go to town, go into a store and try to buy things), but also literacy is a crucial step in our goal of seeing the Wantakians mature and complete in Christ. If they remain illiterate, they will remain dependent on us or someone else for truth. However, learning to read in their language and having God’s Word in their language will allow them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ…without depending on us.
Wow! This is an incredibly exciting time for the Wantakia people! Please pray for the 12 men and women going into the first literacy class. Please pray for us as their teachers. We will be teaching them everyday in their language! Whew. But this will be a good time for the people to see us missionaries, who have been learners for the past 4 years, now slide into the role as teachers. Perfect timing, as we will be teaching them God’s Word very soon. Also, pray as we continue translating O.T. and Gospel portions! Pray as we continue to write the Bible lessons we will use to teach them! Please pray that our team will stand firm against any schemes Satan might try to pull, as the day is coming close when he will lose his foothold in Wantakia!
BJ and Jill