There is a country where, in just a one hour walk, you cross into a completely different language and culture. That culture has no understanding of who Jesus is or what He has done for them. That’s where we’re going: Papua New Guinea. A group of islands with over 850 different language groups in a space the size of California!
To plant a healthy, fully functioning church that thrives without western missionaries — a church with strong believers and wise leaders, reaching out to the surrounding language groups with the same gospel that has changed them.We are committed to seeing mature disciples made among a currently unreached people group. Realistically, that’s an undertaking of at least 15 years.
1. Arrived in country & Learned Melanesian Pidgin
This is the national trade language spoken by a majority of Papua New Guineans. Being fluent in it is critical as we build friendships and minister within the country.
2. Engaged with the church in PNG & Surveyed Konomala
God has been reaching people in PNG for many years, and He’s already established His church among dozens of people groups. We purposefully connected with the national church to join what God is already doing through them.
Then, in conjunction with those churches, we took a “survey trip” into the Konomala language group in order to determine which community would be best for our team to settle in.
3. Built our homes & Moved into the community
Once everything was in order, we had a team of four guys come to help build our’s & Hodgdon’s homes. Nearly thirty people came from other national churches to help build as well. That was amazing! The houses have solar-electric systems for electricity & rain water collection systems for running water.
4. Learn the Konomala language & culture
Our time of language & culture study is absolutely necessary as we look forward to introducing our friends to their God and Savior.
With the goal of effectively communicating God’s truth, we have to become fluent in people’s heart language. We’ll not only be working to master the language, but we will also be analyzing the cultural beliefs and worldviews of the Konomala people. Being able to empathize with and deeply understand their worldview will allow us to effectively craft our Bible teaching. We want to communicate in a way that contrasts God’s truth with their deeply held beliefs and assumptions. It will also enable us to disciple effectively as we integrate truth with real life in their world.
5. Teach Literacy
In light of our vision of seeing a church reach maturity, we believe that teaching the people to read and write in their heart language is an indispensable part of that goal. We don’t want them to be dependent on us indefinitely. We want them to have the ability to study God’s Word for themselves, and we want them to be capable of functioning well in an ever changing national culture around them.
God has communicated to us through His word. The ability to read and understand what He has said is an important part of people reaching maturity in Christ as well as leading others to maturity.
We’ll progressively teach people to read and write their own language. Then we will begin training people to take over the program and teach their own peers and children.
All of this will be done looking forward to the day that a previously unreached language group can read a translation of God’s word in their own language!
6. Begin translating scripture
Translating scripture is a tedious and ever-important part of seeing a church grow to maturity. It will be an ongoing process beginning months before we start teaching and continuing for years to follow.
We will begin by translating the portions of scripture that will be covered during our teaching. To accomplish that, we will work closely with a few of our key friends in order to produce a translation that is as accurate and natural as possible. Again, throughout that process, consultants will thoroughly check our work, make revisions alongside us, and approve the work to keep moving forward.
All of the language study that was done prior to this point will play a large role in the quality of the translation that can be produced. Understanding the culture and language will be critical in guiding us through the process of translation as well as lesson development for the upcoming teaching.
7. Teach through scripture from beginning to end
We will begin studying the Bible with our friends beginning at God’s Creation, move to the cross, and eventually conclude the story with God’s re-creation. The goal in teaching that way is to ensure that a solid biblical foundation is laid in order to take down the fortress of people’s worldviews and overarching stories.
We want to lay the cornerstone for a clear understanding of who Christ is, His significance in the scope of world history, and His impact in our personal lives. This will also lay a firm foundation for discipleship and growth as believers.
8. Continue making disciples of Christ
In reality, discipleship will begin on the first day we arrive in the community. We’ll be representatives of Christ, and we’ll be modeling what it looks like to be his disciples. The big picture goal will be to see a body of believers progressively mature and take ownership of the church. We will allow the Holy Spirit to lead them, and eventually, we’ll step out of the picture.
Discipling leaders of the church will be a continual process during the early years of the church. As the Holy Spirit leads men to shepherd the church, we will have the privilege of walking through life and ministry alongside them.
We will continue handing off the ministry to our friends, discipling them, and allowing them to follow the Lord. We cannot rush through this. Patience will be key, and in light of the future of the church, it is vital that we don’t try to hurry along the process.
9. Itinerate ministry
There will come a point when it will be more beneficial for the church if our team is no longer living there in the community. At that point, with the Lord’s wisdom, we’ll transition to living at a mission center with regular contact with the church. Then eventually, we will move into a new stage of life and seek the Lord in how He would have us serve Him moving forward. Lord willing, we’ll be connected with the church for the rest of our lives.