Thursday, July 30, 2015 it still revenge?

One of the participants hard at work in the workshop
“What do I do when evil spirits text me on my mobile phone?” “If someone else takes revenge for me, is it still taking revenge?” “Does God protect unbelievers from spirits and curses?” “Why didn’t God just destroy Satan in the beginning?” “Isn’t it true that a dead man’s spirit can come back to hurt the living?” “Why do some omens seem to work?” 

Many many questions just like these were raised and discussed at the recent Culture Meets Scripture workshop (I talked about it a bit in this blog post). You can read about one of the cool stories that came up in the workshop (dealing with the pressure of revenge-killing) in my newsletter!

Click here to find my online version of my newsletter. Or, if you'd prefer to have my newsletters sent right to your inbox, type your email address in the box below and click do it.

Subscribe Unsubscribe

To get monthly prayer updates, where I go into more detail and share things that I don't write in my more public newsletters, please fill out your email address in the box below and click do it.


Friday, July 24, 2015

A Spoonful of Hope

This has nothing to do with spoon theory. But it's a pretty
view from my veranda!
I had a lovely fistful of spoons this past week.

After spending the second two weeks of July in an intensive workshop (more on that later), I had been feeling a bit rundown and more tired than usual, so that weekend, I decided to greatly reduce my usual plans and plant myself horizontally on the couch for a few days of furious resting. “Spoon-gathering, ” I called it.

In the world of chronic illness, “spoon theory” is a way that Christine Miserandino developed to describe how she has to manage her energy (her spoons) throughout the day, making wise decisions as to when she can afford to spend her spoons or ought to keep them in reserve. Of course, healthy people have spoons too, but the difference is that those with chronic illnesses (especially ones that affect energy, like my challenge with chronic fatigue), have a smaller number and may need to spend their spoons on something as small as taking a shower or getting dressed or standing for a length of time. If a person overspends their spoons, he or she can have sometimes painful and debilitating consequences, and it may take days for the supply to be replenished.

When I was in the worst part of my illness, I found “spoon theory” to be a helpful way for me to explain to myself and others why I was making the decisions that I did, why I had to sometimes cancel plans at the last minute, why I was militant about respecting certain boundaries—it has helped me not to overtextend myself and learn a measure of contentment in my limitations. As I’ve been recovering, I’ve been occasionally discovering that I have one or two more spoons than I did a month before, which is very exciting.

But sometimes, knowing how many spoons I hold in my hand can make me rather cynical (I like to call it “experiential realism” but let’s not delude ourselves...). About 5 weeks ago, when I had my first translation session with the Kamano-Kafe, I ended up missing most of my rest times and crossed nearly every boundary I’d set for myself that day. As a result, by the time I came home that evening, I was barely coherent. My roommates kindly fed me and shuttled  me into bed, where I promptly slept for 12 hours without stirring. As I dragged myself around the house the next day, barely mobile, I moaned in despair, “This will never work. I’ll never be healthy enough again to do my job. What was I even thinking??”

And I really was afraid. After all, my workload and output was at a snail’s pace compared to my previous life; I’d already cancelled multiple workshops I was supposed to attend due to lack of energy, and now I was attempting to manage an intense two-week workshop in July. How could I possibly have enough spoons for that?

“Why do I think I can go anywhere?” I wonder, looking at my track record. “This is idiotic. It will never work.” And so, I lay out my future in stone, as if I was some sort of god, able to see beyond the present.

“Never!” says Cynicism.

“Maybe!” says Hope.
The Kamano-Kafe team leading in worship

Maybe you can’t do this right now...and maybe that’s because He’s not asking you to...Or maybe if you drop those spoons alongside those loaves and fishes, you can. And so it ended up that the Culture Meets Scripture workshop was that very thing—a deep breath and I laid fears and spoons aside to see what might happen, and while I still participated in the workshop with times of extreme fatigue, the point is, by His grace and through your prayers, I participated in it. 

It’s hard to live in equally in both hope and contentment—to be satisfied in the present, yet optimistic for the future...and not be dragged into cynicism and resignation by years of waiting for those spoons to increase. In a few weeks, I’m flying to Australia for a holiday, and despite my attempts at realistic planning, I can just see my spoons flying out the door left and right as I navigate doctors and housing and transportation and reverse culture shock and physical labor at a horse barn and more. It’s enough to want to make anyone give up....


but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:30


Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Need for Numbers!

Krompe and Franky at the Culture Meets Scripture workshop this month
Krompe leaned forward, studying the computer screen, his mouth silently forming the Hebrew words. “It says, ‘accepted for him to make atonement for him,’” he pointed out, pushing his woolen cap out of his eyes. The other men nodded, then broke out in noisy discussion. “No, it’s not clear yet!” one man shouted, waving his hands over the table, as James typed a few more words on the computer.

Last month, Krompe and his five colleagues (along with myself and Rich, the two translation advisers) were diving into the translation of Leviticus into Kamano-Kafe, a language group of over 80,000 people in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Verse by verse, the men argued, negotiated and polished until the Scriptures were communicated in clear, beautiful Kamano.

Krompe is one of only a few PNG translation consultants who is able to check his own mother-tongue Scripture as it is being translated (most PNG consultants come from languages where the Bible translation is already finished and no longer needs checking.) Checking by a consultant is an important step in the translation process—it ensures the translation is clear, accurate, and natural.

In order for Krompe and many other PNG translators to focus on their work, they are supported financially by various partner organizations.  The oversight and accountability provided by the finance team makes it possible for money from those organizations to provide training, equipment and travel costs for these dedicated men.

However, an immediate personnel crisis in the finance team means that translators like Krompe may no longer be able to receive their needed funds. Without accountants and finance specialists to oversee the financial transactions, Bible translation in PNG is severely crippled—many of the 200 language programs relying on the finance team will have to shut down or significantly restrict their goals over the next few years.
Do you have a gift for numbers and accounting? (I don't--trying to figure out how to best manage the complexities of the Kamano-Kafe finances feels like designing a nuclear reactor blindfolded while swimming with Great White Sharks!) Contact Tara Ellis ( to learn more about how you can directly support Bible translation in Papua New Guinea!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

And the Word Came with Power

I can’t remember the first time I read the book, And The Word Came with Power. I do know I was young enough to be rather disgusted that the front cover had no photos and opinionated enough that I thought the title was too long.

But, somehow I overcame those reservations, and soon the story of farm girl JoAnne Shetler and the Balangao people of the Philippines captured my heart and imagination. Jo found her way amid the missionary heroes of old...fitting in somewhere among Gladys Alward, Amy Carmichael, George Mueller and others.

I know I read it again in high school, when I felt compelled day after day for two years to pray about serving in Bible translation, and found the same questions I was wrestling with, Jo had wrestled with too.

In college, when I finally bowed my head and said yes, Lord, I’ll go, I grabbed my old copy with the green cover and read it over and over. What in the world was I getting myself into?

This past week, JoAnne Shetler arrived in Papua New Guinea to lead a Culture Meets Scripture workshop here in Ukarumpa. I was delighted to meet this lovely lady who had so impacted my journey, and be able to sit and listen to her stories and testimony the other night, many of which now hold much deeper meaning for me as I recognized many similarities between the Filipino and Papua New Guinean cultures.

The workshop is a week-long training for local believers to help them develop biblical responses to and understanding of deep-seated practices in their own culture. For example, many aspects of daily life in Papua New Guinea revolve around the belief (and experience) of sorcery, evil spirits, charms, spells, and dreams. How is the Christian supposed to respond to these in a way that both honors his culture and follows the Bible? This workshop equips the local Christians to critically examine their own cultures and not only develop a biblical response (whether by altering the ritual or replacing it with something that would be just as culturally poignant), but also it encourages and equips them to stand strong in the face of the deep societal pressure and incredible tension that can be placed on believers when they choose to act differently.
Culture Meets Scripture

From July 8-15th, I’m privileged to go to this workshop along with quite a few of the guys from the Kamano-Kafe translation team (actually, there are supposedly over 80 participants total from many local languages!). We appreciate your prayers for these men as they seek to lead their people in godly practices; many of them are pastors and prominent leaders in their community. Also, you can pray for my limited energy this next week, that I’ll be able to make it through the entire workshop and still be a coherent, wise adviser as we delve into the Scriptures.

I look forward to sharing with you more stories about this workshop. In the meantime, if you haven’t read it, I encourage you to pick up a copy of And The Word Came with Power!