Sunday, February 26, 2012

Triple Header Part 3--New Boss

We woke up this morning to an email we have been waiting for for several weeks.  We've known that Dr. Louie Bustle, the Global Director of Nazarene Missions had announced his retirement, and Nazarene missionaries all over the world have been speculating for months now about who would take his place.  The candidates weren't necessarily limited to the current Regional Directors, but history would show that they had the best chance.

I had mixed feelings about the prospect of our Regional Director becoming the new Global Director.  On the one hand, I think he is a very capable leader, he's bright, creative (don't read this Verne, it'll look like just flattering) and an all-around great guy.  I've been pleased with what has been happening on our region under his leadership.  He'd make a great GD.

On the other hand, well, copy everything I said above.  Those are reasons that I'd love to have him as my RD for a lot longer.

The email from our Field Strategy Coordinator copied Verne's email sent to all of the FSCs on our region, confirming that he had been elected as GD by the General Board of the Church of the Nazarene.

Verne was our Field Director (the title was changed to FSC a few years ago) when we first became missionaries.  I went to him when when I was confused about the culture of PNG.  I asked him questions about mission strategy.

Verne and Natalie first went to the mission field as short-term volunteers to be house parents in the Nazarene hostel at the MK school in Ukarumpa, expecting to stay for a year.  Five years later they took their first furlough.  They did church planting and development work in Dusin, high in the Bismark-Schrader mountains in very primitive conditions for 9 years.  They came here to Kudjip and Vern served for 11 years as Field Director before moving to the regional job in 2005.

Please be praying for the Wards as they make the transition, and begin the huge task ahead.  And be praying for him and his team as they select the new Asia Pacific Regional Director.

Triple Header Part 2--Blackness

The scene in our house last evening
We've been having some struggles with power.  Electric power, that is.  Many of you know that we now have a really nice really big emergency generator, big enough to power the whole station.  We have an automatic switch that starts the generator when PNG Power goes off.  Diesel fuel to power the generator is pricey, so we only use it when we have to.  We used to have a hydroelectric system that gave us reliable, inexpensive power, but it broke.  Long story.  We're now beginning work on a really good hydro system that we expect to be the best possible long-term solution to our power problems.  It'll be ready in 2 or 3 years.

However, we have been having some problems with the switching system.  I don't understand it, but that's not the main point of this post.  The point is, the power was off a lot more than usual yesterday, especially in the evening, and for longer than usual periods of time.  Judy and I  were trying to watch a recorded TV show.  The power would be on for 15 or 20 minutes, then off for 30 minutes to an hour.  It would come back on, we'd find our place int the TV program, and within a few minutes, power would go off again.

At one point, I realized that it was a clear night.

Ordinarily, we have a lot of security lights on all around the station, so even when the sky is clear, most of the stars aren't visible.  But with the power out, I knew that the stars would be spectacular.  I used my pocket flashlight to find my way outside.  I was right about the stars.  I called to Judy to join me, and together we lay on our backs on the lawn enjoying the scene.

Well, eventually we got cold and our backs got itchy, but I didn't get any calls while we were watching the big show in the sky.

Triple Header Part 1--Pastor Collin

Last night I was on call.  Saturdays are the busiest day for call.  Yesterday it was complicated by the graduation of Nazarene College of Nursing (NCON), in which I and Jim and Bill played our trumpets.  But thanks to one of the hardest-working and nicest volunteers on record (Jennifer Jung, for the record) I was able to get through the morning and early afternoon fairly painlessly.  Then it was just a few relatively brief trips into the ER.

Pastor Collin with his wife and 2 daughters
One of these ended up providing a special blessing for me.  The patient was the father of one of our nurses, now on the faculty of NCON, Sister Dare Collin.  Pastor Collin is a retired pastor in the EBC (Evangelical Brotherhood Church, as Swiss denomination).  He hasn't needed to seek health care for many years, so he didn't know that his blood pressure was very high.  I'm sure that his 102 kg (221 pounds) isn't helping any.

At about 3 am Saturday morning, Pastor Collin woke from sleep with a song on his heart.  His wife reports that he was singing in the darkness.  Then, since he couldn't go back to sleep, he prayed for the rest of the night.  After he got up, the day seemed ordinary.  But then, about 6 pm, he fainted briefly.  When he woke up, he found that he couldn't move his left arm and leg normally.  When he tried to walk, he stumbled, twisting his right ankle.  His family noticed that his face looked a little crooked, and that his speech was slightly slurred.

My dad, Allen Bennett
The stroke isn't a severe one.  He can still move his limbs.  He walked into the ER with the assistance of a couple of his children.  We will give him aspirin and treat his blood pressure to try to prevent future strokes.

Thinking about this godly man and his years of minstry made me think of my own, dad.  Pastor Collin is 72 years old (and it's pretty unusual for older people in PNG to know their age).  My dad, also a retired pastor is 94, and he also suffered a stroke a couple of years ago.  It was a privilege to me to be able to care for Pastor Collin, and to pray with him and his family before sending him off to the ward.

While I was checking on Pastor Collin and writing up his admission, the power kept going off, but that's another story.  Stay tuned for Part 2.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Yesterday marked the 9th anniversary of our arrival in PNG.  We are grateful to God for His call on our lives, his grace in providing a place of service and his strength that keeps us going.  We are grateful to each of you who supports us, through your prayers, through your giving to the World Evangelism Fund, or your help in other ways.  We love PNG, and we love you.

Who Came To Church Today?

This morning we attended the Tumba Church of the Nazarene.  Our friends, Pastors Kopi and Elis were away, preaching somewhere else.

So, who came to church?

 Judy Bennett, and volunteer doctor Jennifer Jung, among others.

 This nice dog.  Two other dogs came to church, but they didn't stay in their pew, and didn't pay attention to the service, but roamed around and left early.

 One of the church members who preached (I suspect for the first time--she seemed pretty nervous) in the place of Pastor Elis or Pastor Kopi.  The sermon ran about 5 minutes, and was entirely in the local tribal language, which we don't understand.

 These cute little girls who weren't afraid of Dr. Jeniffer like they usually would have been of new people.

 A boy wearing a shirt with this great graphic, and the name of our new province, "Jiwaka".

 Michael Kopi and his guitar.

 This cute little girl and her big cousin.

 This cute little girl, and a nice old grandpa.

 This not-so-young new mama, and her newly-adopted baby.

These little boys.

I trust that each of you will find a place to worship this Lord's day.  It may be a fancier building, or no building at all.  You may worship wearing fine clothes, or simple clothes.  You may find that you dog isn't really welcome.  There may be preaching in a language you understand, or one that you don't (although it's good to understand).  The sermon may be long or short (although I like short ones when I can't understand the language).  The preacher may be experienced and confident, or new to the pulpit and scared stiff.  But if you come prepared to hear God's word (preached, communicated through songs or testimony, or direct to your heart), and to give worship to Him, you will know that you've been to church.