Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"I have to try"

One of my jobs in Papua New Guinea is to interview fascinating people and write their stories to be shared by our Communications department. The other week, I was privileged to sit down with Yasu Opune. At first, he was a bit quiet, but as we visited over a cup of tea, he suddenly began to open up about his passion--literacy for his people. When the when time came for me to write the story, I had a terrible time figuring out what quotes of his *not* to say!

“I think I’ll have to try.”

For three years, the women of Yasu Opune’s village had been praying for someone to teach them how to read the translated Gadsup Bible, when God laid it on Yasu’s heart to teach a literacy course. “I had only taken a basic literacy workshop,” he explained, “but I soon had 174 participants and four classes!”

A few years later, Yasu attended LLEAD (Leadership, Literacy, Education and Development), a two-year program in literacy-based transformational development. “Before I went to LLEAD, I thought literacy was for reading and writing only.” Yasu spread his hands apart, “But it actually covers a wide area. Literacy impacts every part of the things we do; it’s what makes people become poor and what makes people become rich. It’s what makes them become a believing Christian, and it’s why they don’t know Jesus. LLEAD led me to the top of the mountain, and now I can see the world.”

Yasu hopes he can soon hand the Gadsup literacy program to the local teachers. “God has answered their prayer and used me as His channel to help them. But, there are many other places that have needs. What seed God has given me, I have to plant it in the right soil!”

Now, Yasu spends much of his time teaching literacy courses around the Highlands, often using his own money, and when that runs out, praying that God would provide the resources. “God is the provider, and He keeps blessing me and using me, so I need to keep helping these communities.” In May, Yasu will be leading a literacy course among the Binumarian, a neighboring language group.

“In Binumaria, they have translated the Bible already, but no one can read it.” Yasu explained. “That’s the problem—literacy needs to come first, otherwise how can they read the Bible? My goal is that at the end of the course they will be able to understand God’s Word and be able to testify...and the Lord will receive glory from this. But I don’t start directly. I go indirectly. I find out what their needs are, then I work out a plan for training.”

Yasu leaned forward, his eyes bright and passionate, “If it’s God’s will, I will continue to go out whoever has a need. I must try to keep sharing and help others.”

Will you pray for Yasu and the Binumarians as they start this new literacy course on Friday, May 16? Pray also for Yasu’s financial support, as well as for an ongoing illness that often tries to discourage him. “If God wants me to do this work, He will help me. Please pray,” Yasu shared.