We cannot stress enough that our ministry in Papua New Guinea is a team effort. We have a host of families partnered with us in pursuing the goal of church planting in PNG. Without them, we would not be here. From time to time we will invite our partners to share about this ministry from their perspective. Our first guest-blogger is Molly Burns. She and her family are dear friends and have been a huge encouragement to us for years. And here she is…
Ryan and I met Joseph and Elizabeth in early 2004 at Grace Church. We were new parents and new to Grace, the Osborns were almost done being newlyweds, and we were all serving in student ministry together. This offered lots of opportunities to get to know each other and see how we each functioned surrounded by (and participating in) the drama and antics of teenagers.
We also “camped” together, taking our kids (read: toddlers) into the wilds of Paris Mountain State Park. That offered opportunities to see how each family functioned on a hot, hornet infested, sleepless summer night. (That’s Nancy and Belle in the high chairs.)
Why We Are Part of the Team
There are many reasons it seemed natural for us to partner with the Osborns in their mission in PNG. One, because we know it is a real call God has on their lives to go; two, because we know it is an equally real call God has for us to send. Reasons 3 through 10 are obvious to us, because after living life with each other for 7 years it is apparent God has given them the ability to live out the gospel with people in any season of life. This gift, along with being super smart and well trained in language translation, is what will be vital to their ministry in a tribe. Ministry in Papua New Guinea, or some other jungle far, far away, was their goal from the moment we met them. And, as it became increasingly clear that “the going part” was not God’s call for us, we realized God had brought our families together for us to play a different role in tribal missions.
Our kids, ages 8, 4 and 1, are just as vital to the support team as Ryan and I. We talk about our friends, look at blog posts, roll out a map to remind Nancy (again) where Papua New Guinea is. Our girls often ask what time it is where Belle and Lucy and Everett are – it is pretty fascinating that we are eating breakfast and they are being tucked into bed for the night. We have plans to get a huge map for a blank spot on our living room wall, so we can mark where all of our friends overseas are, and to serve as a reminder that this is a huge world, but our God is Lord of it all, and everyone in it needs Jesus. All these things lead us to pray for the Osborns and the hearts of the people they meet, to send them emails, to write guest blog posts, and constantly find other ways to reach out and encourage them as they are our hands, feet, eyes and ears in PNG.
When we give our money, pray, drink coffee from the Highlands, or talk to our kids about the new kinds of foods their friends are eating, we are using the resources we’ve been given to nurture the truth that we are all part of God’s call to go and tell, yet everyone’s part looks a little different. Yes, it takes extra time and energy. Yes, there are other ways that money could be used in our budget, but the sacrifice seems insignificant in light of what Jesus did for us, and for the people of PNG. While the Osborn’s pick avocados from their backyard and avoid jungle highway extortionists, our family gets to be a part of those adventures too. We are also very excited and praying expectantly that God will begin to move and change the hearts of the people of Papua New Guinea.
For the record, on that camping trip, it was Osborns: 1, Burns: 0. Maybe we’ll try again with them in a different kind of wilderness one day?