“Once we had no delight in God…What we enjoyed was food and friendships and productivity and investments and vacations
and hobbies and games and reading and shopping and sex and sports and art and TV and travel…but NOT God.
He was an idea – even a good one – and a topic for discussion, but he was not a treasure of delight.
Then something miraculous happened. It was like the opening of the eyes of the blind during the golden dawn…
and then the realization that we would give anything if we just might be granted to live in the presence of this glory forever and ever…”
– John Piper
When the Dao believers were hearing the last part of Acts this last Sunday they also heard all about how in the last chapters of Paul’s life he had considered God’s message so important that he would sit down and write letters to those groups of people that he had visited in the past in order to spur them on to take hold of God’s message and live by it. It was because of these things that the Dao people began thinking about some of their friends a couple valleys to the east of us in an area that they refer to as Maniwo.[gallery, 5]
It will be in the next few weeks that another NTM missionary team will begin teaching a group of the Maniwo people the ‘God Talk’ all the way from Genesis, chronologically through the life of Christ. Although the Maniwo people speak a different dialect than the Dao people, historically the Dao and Maniwo people groups have had constant interaction with each other. After hearing of what Paul had done and then also hearing that it would be in the next few weeks that that the Maniwo people would be hearing the Creator’s message the Dao people decided that they should do the same as Paul did and write letters to the Maniwo people spurring them on to listen to God’s talk. Some of the Dao believers that had recently been learning how to read and write got together and started discussing what they should write and then yesterday morning they carried these letters to us (Top right Picture) because they wanted us to put them on the helicopter which was coming through yesterday to carry some consultants to Maniwo whom had been staying here over the weekend.
Here are some of the things that the Dao believers had written:
“…You Maniwo people need to do as we Dao people have done!
You need to listen to the Creator’s talk as we have listened.
We understand now that other things are small.
Working in the garden is a small thing.
Spending time talking about things like enemies and shooting each other is likewise small.
Money and sitting around talking about money is not important either, that also is a small thing.
The Creator’s message alone is the biggest and most important thing.
And so we tell you to leave behind those small things – take hold of the greatest thing.
Listen to the Creator’s message, Listen to this very important talk.
This is what we Dao people have done and likewise this is what you Maniwo people need to do…”
As Jennie and I read through these letters we were overjoyed to once again see that the Dao believers are continuing to firmly take hold of God’s message to them. As the months go by they are more and more realizing the worth of what they have taken hold of and they are holding up this great treasure for all those around them to see. They are beginning to understand as we see in Matthew 13 that “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field…It is like a pearl merchant on the lookout for choice pearls whom when he had discovered a pearl of great value he sold everything he had to buy it!” And so they are holding up this newly found treasure and saying as was written in these letters “Leave behind those small things! – Take hold of this greatest thing!”
When we checked in on our radio this morning we were told by the NTM team working in Maniwo that they had received the letters on the helicopter and that the Maniwo people accepted them and read these letters with great joy. Some of the Maniwo people decided that these letters were so important that they needed to spend this next week leading up to the teaching, carrying around these letters to various hamlets all over the Maniwo valley, some as far as a full days hike away, and reading them to as many of their people as possible!
As we see the Dao people reaching out to the Maniwo people in this way Jennie and I are reminded by these precious Dao believers whom, by this world’s standards don’t really have many earthly possessions to begin with, that whether it be our gardens and land, the delicacies and foods of this world that we enjoy so much, our various possessions, the medial tasks and work that we involve ourselves in daily, the money that we work so hard to attain, or the security and safety from enemies that we value and talk of so much, none of these things compare to the greatest of all treasures – God Himself and His Kingdom by which He freely offers us salvation and forgiveness. May we learn from these young believers, and may we all likewise hold up and treasure this “costliest pearl” as our greatest possession.
Please pray for the Maniwo people and the NTM team working in the Maniwo people group as they prepare for the teaching that will start in the next couple weeks. Pray that God would give the team there strength and wisdom as they speak His Word. Pray also for the Dao people as they continue to grow in their understanding of this great message! Also, thank you for your prayers for our co-workers Derek and Sarah Grant. This last weekend they both passed the second of four language checks that they need to pass in order to gain the ability to speak fluently in the Dao language. Please continue to pray for them as they begin to tackle this next level of language learning. and pray that they will stay focused on the task as they continue to press forward with trying to learn the Dao language.
Because He said “GO!” – Scott & Jennie Phillips – Luke 9:60/17:10
Also, our website: sjphillips.org has more pictures and info on the ministry God has allowed us a part in here.
Check it out if you get some time.