Over the course of our first term overseas we steadily settled into our community and found ourselves seeing needs around us in the community. We wrestled over which of those needs were needs we should strive to meet or if our involvement would cause dependence. Now that we’ve settled into some areas and ways of giving, it’s an odd predicament to feel that we should give quietly, as Jesus taught in the New Testament, and yet to realize that the money we give away is not ours as we are supported by YOU all! And so, we want you to know some of the ways in which you are giving in our community through us.
We’ve discovered that most of the students who come to our college can’t pay their school bill and are sponsored. Some students are able to be supported by extended family, but often students for whom this education is most valuable have the least financial resources available in their larger communities. Often they are from remote areas where everyone is a subsistence farmer or hunter/gatherer. We wondered at first why students didn’t work while attending classes, but now it’s glaringly evident that since the culture is very “rubber time”, their class and school event schedule is not even definite a week ahead of time, making it almost impossible to work in any formal way. Sometimes classes are cancelled for the following day in order for all of the students to clean up the campus or for the professors to have a meeting. We find we have to be very flexible even with students who we pay to do odd jobs for us.
Since sponsoring students is the way most of them pay for education, we've identified areas that are really in need of leadership, and we are sponsoring students either from those areas or passionate about serving in those areas. Students apply and we sponsor a few each year. Reading their applications can be really encouraging, seeing their testimonies and how they feel God is calling them. Our first sponsored students graduated from our undergraduate program last year and some are working through the masters program this year. To the right is a photo of one of our sponsored students (also a dear friend!) that graduates this year, who we were taking to the hospital when she was sick. It’s our prayer that we have equip students to become leaders who are empowered to equip others and to serve needy communities. Our students are going out and becoming teachers, pastors, and community leaders. We've helped sponsor a younger child in private kindergarten as well.
Two years ago our church opened a preschool and kindergarten, attempting to provide early childhood education for our area. I’ve attended events for all the pre-k schools in our whole city and have been surprised to find a number of solid schools of other faiths, and only two solid Christian ones, one being ours. We’ve seen the hearts of our teachers burdened with how to love and equip the kids in our area AND their whole families with an educational and spiritual foundation, and healthy emotional family dynamic. We are loving their vision, and so we took some of the funds we raised over furlough to help the school buy supplies like a startup laptop, speakers, and printer. Below the kids are doing Friday morning exercise class led with music over the new speakers.
The local church body we are a part of has opened up church plants in a number of different places across our province, and we also give to support the church planting and evangelism that they are starting and that we are excited about.
We do keep a giving fund that we give to pop-up needs. Frequently that ends up being medical needs, like when we took our friend to the hospital in the photo above. For day-to-day medical issues, local government clinics help people. However for anything more significant, few have health insurance and costs for operations or hospital fees are way beyond what people can pay themselves. For major issues, anyone who can will fly across the country to find care. You have helped pay for the trip and treatment to treat our neighbor, who was going blind in his early 20's, and Judah's friend after he was crushed by a falling cement structure.
Knowing when and how to help is still a major challenge (and gift!) for us. It’s our prayer that we (and you via us) can help give in love to areas of need and areas where we see the Spirit of God moving and working. The fact that we are incarnate here, living among the community, hopefully both gives us the ability to see needs invisible to the outside world, and makes us wiser about how best to help. It’s our goal to support local leaders and work that they are starting, and to try to avoid giving in ways that will halt the work if our funds stop. This is what you are a part of here in Papua. Thanks for your generosity and for allowing these things to go forward. To God be the glory for all He is doing through His church in Papua.
To the right: Entry to the lab at the local public hospital