Resurrection in Asaro country, Papua New Guinea

In February 2004, in lower Asaro territory, on the other side of
Goroka from here, but still in the Eastern Highlands Province, something
special happened. A local Assemblies of God pastor named Joseph
was holding evangelistic meetings at a local elementary school yard. Only
a handful of people showed up, and he was preaching the Gospel. Suddenly,
he felt the anointing of the Holy Spirit come on him in an unusual way.
He then saw a group of people carrying a coffin through that area. The
man had been dead three days, and they were about to bury him. Pastor
Joseph used the microphone and called them up to put the coffin on the
stage. They did, and Pastor Joseph kicked the coffin so hard that
he broke the side of the coffin, popped the lid off, and split
open the toe of his own boot. He looked into the coffin and commanded
the man to get up in Jesus’ Name. The man instantly sat bolt upright.
This scared the people around him, and they ran away.

Pastor Joseph asked the resurrected man if he was alright, and he said
that he was. He then asked if he went to Heaven or Hell. The man replied
“No, I was on the way down when you called me.”

“Then you need to repent,” Pastor Joseph replied, and the man
prayed to ask Jesus into his heart right then and there. Pastor Joseph
then asked the man to go back to his village and invite people to the
next day’s evangelistic meetings. They came. There were about 3,000
people there to hear the Gospel the next day, and hundreds were
saved.

As Pastor Joseph was praying for the people who came forward to
receive Jesus Christ as their Saviour, the Holy Spirit told him that
there were three witches (sanguma meri) in the prayer line who
were there to challenge God’s power. Pastor Joseph told them this,
and they fell backwards to the ground, and he said that he saw something like flying
foxes (a very large kind of bat) fleeing their bellies. Those ladies
were delivered and saved gloriously by the power of God!

This report of resurrection, deliverance, and salvation from Pastor
Joseph comes to me through my neighbor, John Kenea, who assures me that
it is true.

For the story of another contemporary resurrection, see the Raised from the Dead video.

Out of the Time Machine

No, we didn’t make a time machine, but we came close to time travel. In February 2002, my family and I traveled to Papua New Guinea. During the village living phase of the SIL Pacific Orientation Course (sometimes called Jungle Camp), we lived with people who were not far out of the stone age. Yes, they had steel tools that they had traded for, but nobody there knew how to mine and process iron. We lived without electricity (except for battery power for flashlights), indoor plumbing, telephone service, television, or radio. We learned a great deal about a typical Papua New Guinean culture and learned to speak Melanesian Pidgin (which they call Tok Pisin) fluently. We learned different ways of living and looking at life. Over the next 4 and a half years, we learned more and changed more to fit in with the culture and people of those we lived with. It was very much like traveling back in time, or maybe traveling to another world, even if it was technically moving forward slightly in time and staying on the same planet. We also gained a more global perspective by working and living with people from many countries and cultures. This enabled us to learn more about our own cultural biases, and to rethink some of them.

As it turn out, forward time travel is easy. Everyone travels forward a day in time every day. Actually, you could travel forward in time faster, but you have to go near the speed of light to travel forward in time much faster, but we didn’t do that. We just waited for the years to pass while we were living in on an island in the South Pacific where we didn’t have any broadcast TV in our home and no cell phone service. During that time, our three sons grew, learned, and got stronger spiritually and physically. Our daughter joined our family. We saw the issues facing Papua New Guinea and how they handled them up close. What we didn’t see much of was what was going on in the United States of America with our friends and relatives there.

When we returned, we knew that children would have been growing and society would change, but it was still kind of surprising to actually see. Returning to the USA was kind of like returning to a house full of odors. The people in the house don’t really notice them any more, but when someone comes in from the fresh air, the smells are intense. In this case, some “smells” are pleasant. Some are not. Some are just different. It is good to see friends and family again. It is good to enjoy the great freedom, prosperity, advanced telecommunications, and conveniences in the USA. There have been some great advancements and some good advances for the Kingdom of God in this nation. There has also been some increases in some of the more depraved elements of society and politics. Having not seen much broadcast TV in years, I was surprised to see some things advertised that I didn’t think appropriate for broadcast TV… things that I had only ever seen advertised by criminal email spammers. I am grieved to see more media and political acceptance of things that God calls sin in the Bible. There is an obvious agenda by many to try to cause things that are destructive to people and hated by God to be accepted as a normal part of our culture. That these people try doesn’t surprise me, really. What surprises me is the degree to which it seems to be working, especially in the realm of church and denominational politics. However, where sin abounds, grace abounds much more. God has many people in this country, and He still blesses the whole country for the sake of His people.

Another thing we noticed is that we have changed. We appreciate the USA much more than most people who have never left this country. We enjoy the benefits of our earthly citizenship, but we are aware that we are really aliens anywhere on Earth. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God.

White wildflowers

What is this blog for?

What, exactly, is the purpose of this part of our web site?

Good question. After all, we already have a “conventional” web site, plus two email mailing lists (one for most people, with pictures, and one for people with very slow and/or expensive Internet connections), plus a paper mailing list. So far, this blog is an experiment, but it seems to me to be another way to communicate with our friends, partners, and family, and a way to potentially make new friends. It is a little less structured, a little more informal, and it can be a lot more verbose. Our regular prayer letters seem to be a major production to get out, taking hours to fit 1-3 months of news into just two pages, with careful proofreading and such. The photo emails are less time-consuming to produce, but we try to control their size and frequency. This blog, however, is not on a schedule. It is also less intrusive than email. You can read it or not, and skip and skim what topics interest you. If you get an RSS feed, it has the immediacy of email. If not, it is more like a web site you can visit from time to time.

Although I’ll try to not say anything here that isn’t appropriate for a wide audience, I’ll try to post things that are encouraging, informative, and helpful. I’ll also share some challenges we face so that you can agree with us in prayer about overcoming them. Although I have disabled direct posting of comments on this web site to avoid comment spam, you can let me know any comments you have via our web contact page (which is one of those little links in the sidebar).

Sunset
What does this picture have to do with this post? Not much, but God sure does paint beautiful sunsets, doesn’t He?

New and Ancient

News flash: after living out of suitcases since the 19th of June, we will finally have a place to unpack our suitcases next month. 🙂 We signed a lease, today. May God bless our landlords for letting us lease their very nice house for less than they could have made renting that place. This will be good both for our family and for my work on software development.

Orange flower with bug
The Lord blessed me with a new camera. Actually, it is a used camera that an uncle gave to me. He forgot about the camera on the 4-wheeler when running it through a car wash. After a couple of weeks fiddling with what used to be a very nice Nikon camera, he gave up and replaced it. Last week, he told me I could have it if I could fix it. After a bit of cleaning, it started working again, so I took the above picture, among others, in the process of testing it. May God bless my uncle. 🙂 He didn’t know it, but I had been wanting a camera like that one for a long time, and praying about how to get one. My old camera was nice, but this one is faster, higher resolution, and has a better zoom lens on it. That way I can quickly snap a picture of a running deer before it gets out of sight, like I did this morning:
Deer tail

I had a longing in my heart to write a new psalm to praise the Lord with, today.

So, is all well? Sure, from God’s prospective. He loves to stretch my faith. When do you suppose the money came in to cover the rent and security deposit? Less than 24 hours before it was due. But it was before. What about work? My main computer is still out of commission, and with it lots of work. I managed to copy off all of the important data, but it wouldn’t stay running long enough between spontaneous reboots, crashes, or hangs to actually finish a full system backup. That means that the days of work I spent setting up my software development environment will have to be redone. I can keep working on the reliable, but slower Dell computer that I share with the rest of the family, but the Toshiba hardware failure was a hit that I didn’t want to take. I realize that I’m totally dependent on God, even in the things He has given me talents for. If this were a normal business venture, the unreliable computer would have been replaced long ago with one as fast but more reliable. For now, I wait on the Lord. That is OK. He is faithful.

Toshiba Computer Woes

I was very happy when I was given money to buy a new notebook computer for my Bible translation support work, over a year ago. I carefully researched options, and it came down to two choices: a Toshiba Satellite P35 or a very similar Dell notebook computer. They were about the same, but the Toshiba was a few dollars cheaper. I chose wrong.

Shortly after I got the computer delivered all the way to me in Papua New Guinea, this Toshiba computer developed display problems. The display started to flicker in a way that was most annoying. I sent it off to the nearest warranty repair center in Port Moresby. After about a month, I got it back. Just as I was getting all my programs and data reloaded, the display went black. There was stuff on the display alright, but you couldn’t really see it without a really intense light on the display at just the right angle, because the integrated backlight failed.

Back to Port Moresby, it went. After about 2 months, it came back. I got all of my programs and data reloaded on it, and started working again. After using it for a while, it started randomly rebooting, so I sent it back again. After another 2-3 months, it came back. It worked for about 2 months, then suddenly died and would not boot.

So, I sent it back to Port Moresby again, for repair under warranty. That was in January, 2006, just before the warranty expired. When I was going to leave the country in July, the repair center had still not repaired the computer. I had them return it to me so that I could take it with me to the USA to a competent repair center. With some begging, I was able to get Toshiba to honor their warranty, and they sent it back to me in about 2 weeks. That was a big improvement over Papua New Guinean repair times! Enclosed with the computer was an offer to extend the warranty at a discount within 30 days of the service event. I tried to do that, and they told me that they would not, because the warranty had expired.

Now, this same Toshiba computer has developed a nasty habit of randomly resetting itself or invoking the dreaded Microsoft Windows blue screen of death with a MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION. This indicates a serious hardware error, not a software problem. Now Toshiba does warrant their repairs to be good for 30 days, so there is hope. All they want me to do is reinitialize the system to as-shipped condition and see if the problem is still there. Then, they’ll consider taking it back for repair. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep the system running long enough to do a complete system backup before wiping out the disk image that represents 22 days of work updating the operating system, installing compilers, Bible study software, specialized Bible publishing software, my source code, databases, email, etc.

In the mean time, I’m typing this on the “temporary” inexpensive Dell Inspiron B120 that I bought to tide me over until the faster, “nicer” notebook computer was repaired. This beautiful little machine has never failed me. May God bless it and may God bless Dell.

My first web log (blog) posting

I have finally gotten around to getting a WordPress web log up and running. I’m sitting here with my daughter on my lap. I think that she is more impressed with the banana she is eating and that daddy is giving her some attention than whatever it is that I’m doing on the keyboard.

I’m still living like a nomad, out of a suitcase, never in one place for more than about a week, but I have high hopes that my family will have a home all to ourselves next month. God is good!

Things I thank God for today:
1. He loves me and saved me and saved my family.
2. He has given me a good wife and family.
3. He supplies all of what I need to do what He calls me to do.
4. He even supplies fun toys, like the nice camera an uncle gave me last week. (It was broken, but I repaired it and it works great, now.)
5. Beauty. God is an artist. Who else can pile up dirt, rocks, and dust and sprinkle it with plants and animals and make such majestic mountains as He can? Who else paints such great rainbows, sunrises, and sunsets? Who else could form mankind from the dust of the earth and from one couple populate the world with so many of His beautiful children? Only God, our great Father.