I'm so excited to share this story with you. Some of you may have read my Christmas post MEGA-JOY. Well, here is a real life sequel...with all the drama and joy of a present day coming of Emmanuel. Rich Brown (my first "guest branch") is our real life storyteller. He and his wife Karen, along with their sweet daughters Atalee, Alyssa, and Ashlynn, are church planters with New Tribes Mission among the Moi people of Papua, Indonesia. After years of seeming fruitlessness, the Lord has brought forth an amazing harvest of new believers among the Moi.
Now that the frenzy of Christmas shopping and wrapping and unwrapping is over, take a few moments to read Rich's account of this incredible work of God. And be sure to witness the joy and thanksgiving that broke through for one man at the moment of salvation (shown in the video at the end).
What would it be like if you were born among a small people group of 1000 surrounded by beautiful jungle covered mountains? Doesn’t sound too bad, maybe. Well, what if the 1000 people you lived among were full of fear, hate, and treachery? What initially might have sounded like a romantic setting suddenly becomes dark and oppressive. This is the setting that the Moi people were born into.
Before the year 2000 the Moi were totally untouched and unknown by the outside world. They were literally stuck in time; living just like their ancestors from centuries before. Death was all too real with an infant mortality rate of 75%. If they managed to be the one in four that survived childhood they likely weren’t going to live long because of frequent sickness and homicide. Their world was sad. What makes their story even more heart wrenching is the fact that they were not just victims of circumstance, but rather, reapers of what they and their ancestors before them had sown. They lost all knowledge of God. In fact they did not even have a name for God, fearing only the evil spirits. Their ancestors had followed after a course that led to a hopeless eternity from God. All the generations that followed had also fallen headlong into the depths of a world without the knowledge of God.
Romans 1 so clearly shows this downward spiral mankind is on. We, like the Moi, had chosen a path 180 degrees from Him. In Romans 1:21 it says, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” The desire to worship and thank God had been lost. Although man did not seek God, He in His goodness had sought man. He promised a Deliverer through Eve and many generations later that promise was fulfilled through His Son, Jesus. After Jesus presented himself as a perfect sacrifice for mankind through his death, he rose from the dead three days later. In His final words on earth he sent his followers to share the Good News about Him to all mankind. He had made a way for people who were lost in their sins and blinded by Satan, the ruler of this present darkness, to be freed once and for all. Hebrews 2:14b-15 says, “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
In God’s goodness and love He had a plan for bringing the Moi people back to Himself. For hundreds of years God had been looking down at this people group, with their own distinct language and culture, desiring that they might know Him. Yet the Moi continued to live as they had for centuries without the knowledge of God.
Romans 10:14 says, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”
Before we were ever born God knew who would go and tell the Moi.
He would use a total of four different families to reach this small people group. He desired to use people like me, who are naturally selfish and unloving to show the Moi His entirely selfless and loving Son. The plan really didn’t make sense, but strength being made perfect in weakness is a foreign concept anyway.
In June of 2000 three families, with New Tribes Mission, left their relatives and homes to live among the newly discovered Moi people. Supported by a network of believers around the world they intended to see a church born from ashes.
They began the long process of learning the language and culture of the Moi so when God’s Word was finally taught it would speak to their hearts. Day in and day out they were salt and light to the Moi. Medical care was one of the means of showing God’s love and compassion. Sadly, only three years after living among the Moi, one of the families had to leave for health reasons. In August 2005 we joined the team. By this time the Moi language had been analyzed and reduced to writing. Chronological Bible teaching lessons were being developed into Moi and accompanying scripture portions were being translated. We actually had to come up with a name for God since they didn’t have one. Taking the verb “anegite”, to create, we made the name, “Anegitemee”, the Creator. It literally meant, “the one who creates”.
Finally, after years of hard work the time had come to present the truth about the Creator. None of the Moi knew who this “Creator” was, but eight of the Moi were curious enough to find out. For seven weeks they sat through the teaching. Listening to nine lessons a week they were taken from Creation to Christ. They were blown away by power and majesty of the Creator. He was so powerful he could speak the worlds into existence and yet so loving He would walk in the garden with Adam and Eve, the pinnacle of His creation.
The faith of the eight who would believe continued to grow. As they intently listened to the unfolding of God’s plan they saw His awesome power not only displayed in creation, but also in judgment of sin. He wiped out the world with a flood and saved the eight who believed in Him. He set a bow in the sky as a promise to never again destroy the world by flood. They learned for the first time that the rainbow wasn’t an evil spirit’s walking stick, as they had always heard. Right after the lessons on Noah and the flood, as we were leaving the small schoolhouse, we looked up and saw a beautiful rainbow. The Moi for the first time in their history spoke words of praise and thanksgiving, “Thank you Creator! It is a sign of your promise. Praise you Creator!”
That day marked the first day where words of praise and thanksgiving were finally given to the one to whom all praise and thanksgiving are due.
A few weeks later the first eight of the Moi understood and believed in the substitutionary death of Jesus on their behalf. He was their spotless lamb who had taken away their sins. They were forgiven. It was fitting that the Creator would make them into new creations in Christ. They were never the same.
God used those first eight Moi believers to turn their world upside down. They were radically changed by “The Creator’s Talk”. From the testimony of their changed lives the Moi church has grown from eight to more than 120 believers. The believers have written countless songs of praise and thanksgiving.
It says in Psalm 107:22, And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of JOY!
Here is Mbanapeoma’s testimony only moments after understanding and believing what Christ had done for him on the cross. Notice his first ever words of praise and thanksgiving given to Him who alone is worthy. Praise you Creator God!
URGENT PRAYER NEED for the Moi: Rich received word that there's a tribal war going on right now. It's possible that some of the new Moi believers may have been killed in that war. Isn't it amazing to think that some of those who not long ago were in darkness and without God could now be in the arms of their Savior! Read Rich's Christmas letter to learn more...but above all, please PRAY!!!!!