Why and when did you originally start getting involved in missions in Papua New Guinea?
I went to PNG for the first time in 1977, just one week after I turned 20 years old. My interest in PNG was a result of a traveling missionary that I heard speak – And he directly challenged me to join him in the work… And (8months later) I did it.
Was Papua New Guinea the first place you went?
I had never been out of the USA except on surfing trips to Mexico. PNG is the first place I ever went for the purpose of advancing the gospel.
Did you start “from scratch” or did you go first with an established missionary?
I worked with my experienced missionary friend for a year or two and then he started nudging (more like pushing) me out my own; challenging me to pioneer the gospel into new places myself, which I began to do still with his assistance, at first.
How do you approach people you don’t even know to share Jesus Christ with them?
One of the sayings in our ministry is that you have to “earn the right to be heard.” That means, among other things, learning the language and culture well enough to know how to present the gospel. For tribal peoples that have no prior knowledge about God and his dealings with man – We begin by over viewing the Old Testament stories and use those stories to give them enough basic theological information so that the actual “gospel” story will have context and meaning for them.
What do you think is the most important thing to think about while on a trip?
A short-term mission trip is completely different than going as a career missionary. On short-term missions the goal more often is to accomplish a particular project, such as the building of a house, painting a church building, providing a VBS or conducting medical and dental clinics. These are good and can demonstrate the love of Christ in practical ways. But, in a long-term ministry where a missionary lives among the people, it is more a matter of developing intimate relationships and becoming part of the village community – And then, sharing Christ from that platform of earned friendship over a longer period of time.
What is your favorite passage of Scripture, and why?
2 Corinthians 4 is one of my favorites. It is stunning to me that God allows the treasure of the gospel to be carried into the world through people “earthen vessels” (verse 7). And the truth is that as we speak the gospel as Ambassadors of Christ – It is God himself speaking through us – Saying to the nations, “Be reconciled to God!” (Ch. 5:19-20). These are mind-blowing concepts and privileges that God gives to us.
There it is. :) I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
Now, all you have to do is await the next half. lol.
P.S. please do not use any part of this interview in any way.