This courageous team of church-planters in Papua New Guinea is made up of graduates of NTBI; they are just normal people saying “Yes” to the Lord and doing his work. Team member BJ Sanders gives us a look into their lives and ministry.
“We are church planters among the Wantakia [wahn-tuh-KEE-uh] people of Papua New Guinea! Our team moved to PNG in 2014. After we learned Pidgin, the national language here, we were invited by the Wantakia people to come live among them.”
-What are you currently doing in your ministry? What are your main responsibilities, or what does a normal day in your life look like?
“We are currently still learning the language and culture. So, everyday we hang out with our Wantakia friends and do whatever they are doing–work in the garden, go hunting, go fishing, sit in the house and tell stories–this is our daily life.”
-What are your goals for the future in your area of ministry?
“The Wantakia people are a remote tribal group of 5,000 people in the mountains of PNG. They are subsistence farmers, who depend on their gardens for their livelihood. They are totally cut off from many services that we enjoy in America–schools, stores, hospitals, roads, airplanes, and many other basic things we take for granted everyday. However, their greatest need is to hear God’s Word in their own language. Therefore, we have made 5 promises to the Wantakians:
- We will learn your language and culture.
- We will teach you to read and write in your language.
- We will translate God’s Word into your language.
- We will teach you God’s Word, from beginning to end.
- We will teach you how to hold on to God’s Word and do His work (make disciples).
So, a lot of people ask us, “How long will you be there?” Well, we have made a task commitment, not a time commitment. We are committed to the task of seeing healthy, mature, reproducing, New Testament churches planted among the people here. And in order for that to happen, we desire to see those 5 things happen in Wantakia.”
In what ways did NTBI equip you for your current ministry?
“NTBI gave us a foundation in God’s Word, which we absolutely needed. It is crucial to understand God’s grand story, to see ourselves inside of that story, and to live everyday in light of that truth. Seeing our identity as “in Christ” is huge too. Language learning can be an emotional rollercoaster if we are looking to that for our identity and contentment, but knowing who we are in Christ first is the one thing that can keep us off the rollercoaster. Lastly, we can’t imagine taking on a ministry like this of teaching and translation without a proper understanding of God’s Word, which NTBI provided for us.”