February 25, 2018
Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Emrang, a village that’s about 2-hour hike away from my village, Kementian. Talice and Samantha, my sister missionaries, have been in Emrang for almost two months now. Though they are nurses by profession, they have been working as teachers in Emrang, teaching both young and old how to read and write. It’s been a challenge for them—it truly is frontier missions. Emrang has not had consistent missionaries, and has thus been unable to truly be discipled and grow. Because it is “Palawano banar” or “very Palawano,” it’s been a challenge to teach them. For some of them, learning that A is not B has taken weeks. They have almost 40 students, and there are just two of them. Aside from teaching being challenging, they don’t enjoy the “luxuries” we do in our village, such as running water, gas stoves, and mattresses. They hike down the hill to the spring to bathe and do their laundry, they cook over a fire, and sleep on bamboo floor. I nearly wept the entire service as I witnessed the spiritual growth of this village just over this past month. We had around 50 people attend church last Sabbath. Their enthusiasm as they sang was contagious. Even the grandparents were singing and doing the actions with the kids as they sang! It’s unheard of amongst the older generation to sing our songs. They soaked up every word that was spoken from the Word of God. Their eyes glistened with eagerness as they heard about Jesus, who loves them unconditionally. My eyes swept across our little bamboo hut, the same hut that serves as Tal and Sammy’s house and the school classroom during the week. I almost saw heaven, and the angels among us, singing the beautiful song of salvation and praises to our Heavenly Father. It was beautiful. One of the the things I love about Adventist Frontier Missions is their emphasis to disciple, and make disciple-makers out of those you’ve discipled. Therefore a self-sustaining project is created, and not long after the people that you’ve been a missionary to are now being missionaries to other people. I’ve been praying long and hard about who I could disciple through friendship evangelism. Our village is pretty set. Missionaries from all over have been in and out of our village for over 20 years. The Palawanos in our village know the message very well, even those who refuse to accept it. The problem that we face now is creating disciple-makers out of them. It’s showing them that they are missionaries too, and don’t have to be “American” to be missionaries. I’ve been befriending several of the Palawano church members. I’ve been impressed that my role here is to really train and encourage those who already know. Recently, that has come to light with Marilyn and Kildit. They both were eager to go to Emrang when I invited them. Both Marilyn and her husband fell away for sometime from the church. Although Marilyn has come back, her husband and kids are still not coming to church. Marilyn is from a village close to there, and has a brother in Emrang still. She admitted to me that she’s been wanting to go there and do outreach for a long time, but doesn’t want to do it alone. Kildit comes from a village very far away. She is the only member of her family that believes in the one true God. But her passion for God is evident in the way she desires to share her faith to everyone she can. When we arrived in Emrang Friday afternoon, Tal and Sammy were planning what to do for church service the next morning. They had just found out that Michael, the other missionary who has been faithfully holding the post on weekends at Emrang the past two years, was unable to attend this Sabbath. He was going to Kebgen, a village about 12-hours hike, to check up on our project there. Since he usually does the sermons, we were unsure of who to assign. Tal asked Marilyn if she would be willing. Marilyn hesitated for a little bit, then agreed that she would do it. I was stunned. I definitely was not expecting that out of her—she was usually so shy in our village in the past to have any part in the service! I sat amazed as I listened to Kildit telling the children’s story, and Marilyn preaching about what God has done in the lives of people in the Bible, how He’s done the same thing in her life, and how He wants to do the same thing in their lives too. She appealed to their hearts to accept the one and only true God, that He loves them no matter what they’ve done or have believed in the past. I nearly wept with joy as I saw the villagers of Emrang listening intently, with eagerness and genuine interest in what she was saying. God has truly been so good. I can’t help but be grateful to see how He’s been showing the Palawanos His love through their own people. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Isn’t that what Jesus did? He chose twelve. Daily he bore with their faults and taught them the principles of heaven. It was these disciples that multiplied the church, that multiplied other churches, and so on and so forth. Marilyn and Kildit are eager to go back and help Emrang. They want to be missionaries too, to other villages. Please pray for us as we train the disciples here to be disciple-makers of their own people. May God’s word be multiplied as we continue to reach the unreached for Jesus!