Growing Pains

This week’s prayer email was written by Elizabeth Claasen. Nate and Elizabeth minister to the Pal people of Papua New Guinea.

Anyone have kids that wake you up at night with aching knees and legs? Growing pains, we call it.

We also have kids that are waking us up at night. No, not our teens. The “middle-of-the-night-wake-up-and-pray” call is coming from our spiritual kids, the Pal church.

missionary and her friend stand in the rain with an aumbrella

From Secret Words to Words for All

What if, all your life, your parents had shown you by their words and actions that the most important messages you would ever hear were those given to you in secret? That was the Pal village 10 years ago. Small family groups would cluster together around the fire, whispering the clan’s “powerful” words. A father imprinted secret hunting rituals on his son. An uncle revealed to his nephew the secret phrases he can use to enthrall the girl he has his eye on.

And then, new people — missionaries — who think and talk in completely different ways moved into Pal. The Pal people watched us stumble through learning their language. We ate and laughed and told them that we wanted to teach them the most important message they would ever hear.

Most of all, we wanted everyone to hear this message. We taught in public, for all to hear. Many listened and said, “We finally understand who Jesus is and why He came.” They responded with joy as they heard of Jesus’ finished work.

And yet the desire for secret messages and power continues to call to the hearts of Pal believers.

a group of men reading outside

Test the Spirits

In February, a visitor hiked into our area. He promptly opened evening sessions for all to come and ask questions of him as a teacher. For several weeks he sat by fires and answered questions quietly and indirectly. “Yes, God’s Word is good to listen to,” he said. “Is there a hidden meaning to these verses…?” Our friends listened and looked at each other and went home and pondered his hints and insinuations about fertility rituals.

Some Pal listeners said to themselves right away, “This is garbage.” Others were quiet. The talk that they heard called to their flesh. “Maybe there is hope in this. Maybe there is a way to an easier life in this.” One group of Bible teachers publicly announced that they wanted to have nothing to do with the talk, but many waited and wondered.

Hard Times Bring Growth

Will you please pray for the Pal church? We have just come through a major upheaval. Those Bible teachers who were caught by the lies of the false teacher and publicly began asking similar questions have been asked to step down. Those who listened quietly and didn’t speak up have apologized. And those who stood for what is true exhorted the community of believers again to turn away from lies.

Please pray with us for these growing pains!

Send the Claasens a Note of Encouragement