We recently completed our second of five Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) workshop in Yabru, Sandaun province. I and the four Papua New Guinean trainers arrived several days early so we could talk about the course and prepare for the times of teaching. The trainers are former graduates of the OBS course and do very well. I have the privilege of helping them prepare and improve their teaching skills.
We only had four of the six language groups come this time. The two groups that didn’t come had some “heavies” (problems) in their village that prohibited them from attending. Many of the people who came also had worries and we were able to pray and counsel with them during the course.
In was encouraging to hear how they had told the stories they learned in the first workshop and the impact that it had to those who heard them. One of those people was Demas from Miarfai.
Demas became a Christian at the first workshop. Miarfai hasn’t had a church for at least two years and the closest church is a three hour walk to a neighbouring village. When Demas returned after the first workshop, he called the community together and told them a story he had learned. He then asked them questions that are designed to interact with the story and provide application of things learned. The story was so impacting that they asked him if they could all meet on Sunday and Demas could tell them a story. Every Sunday for the last three months, Demas tells one of the four stories he learned.
Demas had many questions when he returned since he became the de-facto pastor and because he himself is such a young Christian. Can he pray with people who want to become Christians or baptize people or do you have to be an ordained minister? How do I answer the questions they have about the stories? Demas also travelled to nearby villages to share the stories as well.
Soon after Demas arrived back in his village, he received word that his brother had been afflicted by a demon. The next day he travelled with his family to his brother’s house. There were many people already there when he arrived and they asked Demas to pray that his brother would be freed. Demas told them that he would pray for his brother only if they agreed not to use traditional means of freeing his brother. Traditional means would be appeasing the spirit through sacrificing or whatever the spirit demanded. After a short discussion, the people agreed. Demas then told them that they needed to repent of the wrong things they have done first and then he would pray. After leading them in confession, Demas prayed for his brother and then returned home. The next day he received word that the demon had left his brother and his brother was now back to normal.
As you think about Demas or his story, please pray for the people attending the workshops that God would use them as they tell the stories, that God would protect their families and give them health, and that we would find ways to work with the remaining 100 languages in the Sepik that have yet to hear about God in their language.