“When we get our spiritual house in order, we’ll be dead. This goes on. You arrive at enough certainty to be able to make your way, but it is making it in darkness. Don’t expect faith to clear things up for you. It is trust, not certainty.” – Flannery O’Connor
A year and a half ago, our family of five moved ten thousand miles away from home and everything we know and love. Our new home is high in the mountainous interior of a large island in the South Pacific where we are like children, learning to speak, eat, walk, and live all over again. The reason for coming to this place was to see Christ glorified where the gospel has not yet been preached.
These past several months have brought much change. Teammates left. Our oldest son pursued school in America. Sickness and struggle came. Children have grown. We have learned much about ourselves, about others, and about God. But God has not taken away our desire to see Christ glorified where the gospel has yet to be preached, even when those places are incredibly remote and possibly dangerous.
Next week, the four of us that remain will journey deep into a very dark area of our country to begin telling the story of redemption to a tribe that has never heard it. We will travel by helicopter, then by foot, into an area with no churches, a place steeped in ancient beliefs, a village without hope. Our desire is to see a people set apart for God in this remote valley far from civilization.
To say that we are completely unafraid would be false. The fear is there, gnawing at times, threatening to eat away our resolve. But then we remember that it isn’t our resolve that matters, but the Lord’s sovereignty, pure and simple. What he has for us will be. Nothing else. In that we rest.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
We covet your prayers as we journey into this dark place. It is clear that God has been with us during these months of tumult, and we know that he will now go before us into the darkness, lighting our way as He always has, even though these mortal eyes can only see an inch of the road at a time.
“Seeing themselves in that light, if they are willing, they see how far they have failed the only justice of loving one another; it punishes them by their own judgment. And yet, in suffering that light’s awful clarity, in seeing themselves in it, they see its forgiveness and its beauty, and are consoled. In it they are loved completely, even as they have been, and so are changed into what they could not have been but what, if they could have imagined it, they would have wished to be.” – Wendell Berry, A World Lost
On Monday, May 4th, we will travel by helicopter from Goroka, the town where we live. After landing in a jungle clearing, we will walk about two kilometers to Village M, where a bush house has been built for our family. This will be the first trip into this unreached area for Kandy, Olivia, and Everett. Some of our Papua New Guinean pastors from Goroka will be walking into the area a couple of days ahead of us to get the villages ready for our visit.
On Tuesday morning, Jeremy and these brothers will begin telling the story of creation, then move forward through the Old Testament, explaining sin and the need for a Rescuer. Because of the importance of setting a good foundation, the pastors will be teaching in the tribal language, instead of in the trade language we use closer to town. In the jungle, many people don’t know the trade language very well, if at all. We haven’t yet learned the tribal language, so all of the teaching that Jeremy does will be translated by a pastor. They will walk through the Old Testament for three days, and assuming we are invited to return, the next trip will be focused on telling stories of the life of Jesus. Kandy will spend time with the women, working with them, hearing their stories, showing Christ’s love in the most tangible ways she can. On Friday, we will fly back to our house in Goroka via helicopter.
This blog post originally appeared on sanderspartyoffive.blogspot.com