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From Fire to Fines

When Lightning Strikes …

Paul and Bella Gervasi minister among the Sekadau in Asia Pacific, discipling believers and translating the Scriptures. Paul writes, “Two days after we arrived [in the village], there was a very large thunderstorm. That is not unusual for here. But then a few hours later we had a visit from a man named Lius. He is one of the men from an outreach village we teach at. … He has been a believer for a number of years and is married to Rena, a young woman … whom we have known since she was a baby. Lius came that night to tell me his brother had been struck by lightning right outside their front door. He was dead. We were stunned.”

The trauma of such an event and the urging of the neighbors caused them to move into a small house that they could rent until they could rebuild elsewhere. Lius helps Paul with the translation, giving the Gervasis a chance to help them purchase new land. Paul continued, “Last week he came over and told me they had been fined for living in the house they are in now. It seems the man who let them stay there died. There is some tribal customary law about living in a person’s house who then dies. On top of everything else, they had to pay fines for living there.”

And Burning Rice Fields …

“Lius and his family are one of the few believing families in the village they live in,” Paul said. “Getting fined is nothing new for them. The unbelievers have gone out of their way to make life as difficult as possible for them. For instance, they were fined once for burning their rice fields. All the rice gardens here are slash and burn gardens. This one year the rains came every day, so people couldn’t burn their fields. So, the village performed an animistic ceremony to stop the rain. Along with the ceremony there was a taboo about burning their fields for a week afterwards. But it did stop raining for a few days after the ceremony (but not the required week), so our friends burned their field. Before the week was out, it was raining again, so they were one of the few people who were able to plant a rice field that year. Since they had broken the taboo, they were fined.”

Stretch Your Faith

You and I read about believers being treated like that, and we wonder how they can put up with it. Paul continued in his letter, “This type of thing happens all the time when animistic people get saved. They no longer adhere to all the taboos, and so they are continually fined. In all of this, Lius and Rena have stood strong in their faith. It is definitely not easy to be one of the few believers in an animistic village.”

Please keep praying for Paul and Bella as they continue with translation as well as discipling and encouraging the believers in the Sekadau people group. And, speaking of stretching, Paul wrote, “We are still translating and making teaching lessons. We are working on the book of Luke. I keep thinking some of these books will be easier, but then I find myself yelling, ‘What do these verses mean?’ at my computer. In order to translate, I really need to understand what the intent of the verses is. I used to think I understood the Bible well. I know now that there is still much I have yet to understand.”

Tags: Asia-Pacific, Asia-Pacific region, Mission News, Prayer Sekadau People,
POSTED ON Sep 29, 2019 by Bruce Enemark and Paul Gervasi

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