We're home from our trip and are slowly getting settled into the missionary home in North Carolina. It's been a good (but crazy) summer and we are glad to have a place to call home for a while. Don't worry, I'll get back to posting the rest of the photos from our trip. I promise.
But today, something special. It's long, but please read. It's important.
Let me ask you a question:If someone came to you and asked you,
"What can I do to strengthen my walk with God? How can I grow closer to Him?What would you say? Really, stop and think about it. I'm guessing your answers were something like this:
"You should read your Bible regularly." "You should pray more." "You should get involved in a Bible believing, Bible preaching church." "You should join a Bible study." "You should listen to worship music."Am I right? Was your answer something like the ones listed above? If we want to grow in our walk with the Lord, the Word of God is imperative. You just can't grow without regular time reading scripture. You won't grow without being able to pour out your heart before the Lord in prayer. God's design was for believers to come together for worship and teaching. Worship music aids us as we learn to focus on Him and His word. But what if the person you were talking to, desperate for a closer relationship with God, said to you in response,
"Well that's fine and good, but I don't have a Bible. In fact, there isn't even a Bible in my native language. Because there is no Bible in my language, studying the Bible with my church or friends isn't possible. We don't have worship music based on Scripture. I can pray, but I don't know much about this God I am praying to. What is He like?"What would you say then? If you are anything like me, you wouldn't know what to say. After all, I am not shy about telling people they need the word. I've told you you need the word. I told you it was the most important resolution you could make. The reality is, though, there are around 1900 languages in the world that are still waiting on a Bible translation in their heart language. That's 180 million people waiting to hear the word. Waiting to know more about God. Waiting for the living and active words to minister to their hearts. Can you imagine? Really. Try. For those of you who are Christians, imagine never once hearing one word of the Bible (including in church and in songs) in English. Not once. What do you think the status of your relationship with God would be? These are the questions that plague me. If Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, what does that look like? If I see the Bible as a necessity just as much as food, water, and shelter (and in playing the stranded island game, my Bible would definitely be one of my three items!), then doesn't loving my neighbor mean that I think he should have that necessity as well? I do. And I can't think of anything I would rather give my life to than loving my neighbor by helping her get access to the Word of God in a language she understands. And that is what's next for the Phillips.
After a long process, as of September 1, the Phillips are official missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators.But wait, we aren't translators. Oops. No, not oops. If God has taught me anything in the last two years it is that missions isn't done by one person. It is done by a team. It takes many people with many skills to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth and to bring the Word of God to every language. We might not be translators, but we sure can't wait to be part of the team! We have been invited to be part of the translation team in Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea. Jason will be doing what he does best: teaching. And I will be doing what I do best (for now): being home with our kids and pitching in anywhere my skills and gifts are needed (hopefully to include helping with educational therapy, now that I am an official educational therapist — more on that another day). We will be living on a large missionary compound that serves the translators. There are many, many support roles on the compound. We all have different jobs, but we all have one goal: a translation project started for every language that needs one by 2025. We will attend a two week training session in October at the Wycliffe headquarters in Orlando, and then we will begin our first assignment: Partnership Development. Just like the translators can't do what they are called to do without people like teachers, administrators, mechanics, pilots, and doctors helping them, we can't do what we are called to do without people helping us. We will spend the next year or two gathering like-hearted individuals who want to do their part in helping bring the word to every tribe, tongue, and nation. We'll be looking for people to join with us in prayer, in emotional support, in wisdom and guidance, and in finances. No one can do this alone. But together, we can do a lot. There is so much more to this story...a beautiful testament to God and His faithfulness to us as a family. This is an instance where God made the path clear for us. We're excited and scared all at the same time. God's doing powerful things and we can't wait to declare His goodness.
Here is some information for those who are interested:About Papua New Guinea About Ukarumpa About Ukarumpa International School
I am sure that I will have much more to share with you as time goes on, but I don't want to overwhelm you right now. Would you pray for us? This is a scary time for us as we embark on something totally new and also as we learn to trust God in new ways. I would especially appreciate prayers FOR boldness and AGAINST fear.