News and Articles
11 December 2017
In 1996, we went to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and moved into Sorimi, a remote village accessed by helicopter, where about 120 semi-nomadic people lived.
This was in answer to their plea to help and teach them. They said of themselves that they were, ‘dying like pigs and dogs because no one cared about them.’
Twenty years later, we are thankful to still be involved with the Sorimi people. Now they are 200 in population and many of their names are known and numbered in the Book of Life! But just how did all this happen?
Sharing – and living – the love of Christ
We built a basic home from jungle material, we learned their language and culture, and the people helped us build an airstrip. We taught literacy, gave medical care, and our love for them as great friends grew. Sharing the love of Christ was at the centre of all this.
We translated portions of Scripture to use for teaching key passages, following the Bible’s story from creation to Jesus’s resurrection. The people began to recognise that Christ had come as their Saviour, setting them free from darkness.
A Sorimi church was born in the jungles of PNG in 2007! What a joy to see changes in their lives — from fear to faith; from rituals to praying; from selfishness to caring for the infants, the elderly and the ill; from funerals of turmoil and appeasing the evil spirits to those of peace!
Mature believers started helping with further Bible translation, teaching in church, and going to their two other little villages to share the gospel. All this and much more, because they show that, ‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20).
So, was our ministry to these brothers and sisters looking complete?
Difficult choices — and God’s plan
No! We still had much to do. Yet in 2013, we had to leave PNG because our children needed British education to get the required qualifications in the UK. It seemed that our time with the Sorimi church had come to a close, but we remained burdened for the maturing church which needed further discipleship and more translated scriptures. We saw two needs on two opposite parts of the world. Yet we serve one Almighty God who enabled us to meet them both.
God began to unfold a plan. Poul now works in UK for six months at a time, preparing Bible lessons to teach to the church and translating what he can independently. He has portions of Scripture at various stages: from his first draft, to implementing corrections, and preparing final work for checking with a consultant. Then he takes a six-week trip to PNG.
In Sorimi, Poul works with a few of the men he has trained over the years to help with translation. They make corrections and add detail to his first draft, then Poul reads it to first-time listeners to ensure they can comprehend it. Each year, Poul and three other Sorimi men have a final check with a mission consultant regarding the accuracy and clarity of the Sorimi Scripture. Back in the UK, after editing the last corrections, more Scripture is printed and given into the hands of the church!
Poul’s time with the believers is also essential, as he teaches the prepared lessons to the church and meets with leaders to guide them in shepherding the church.
We haven’t found it easy being frequently on the move for years. We have been coming and going from family, with many expenses, persisting with a harder and less systematic way to accomplish translation. Poul has found it a challenge to disciple the church during short trips when he’s not been able to keep in communication with them. When he’s there, he lives very simply in our deteriorating house, and sometimes faces poor health such as malaria. A satellite phone or two-way radio is his only way of (limited) communication.
Keeping going — stepping out in faith
But God enables! It is worth all this for the sake of the gospel. We see God meet every aspect of our needs — and in amazing ways — as we step out in faith one trip at a time.
We continue as a team: our family is in this together, along with our vital support base of friends and churches, committed fellow Sorimi believers, and the direction of our leadership. We have now completed 50% of the New Testament translation, while still in process with other portions. Christ will build His church. It is a privilege to be His vessels! So, to God be the glory, great things He has done and is doing for this Sorimi people.
They are no longer a forgotten people, and many of them don’t fear death because they have eternal life!