At Tekin the Bibles will sell out just as quickly to high-school students who will take them to their homes in Bak, Bimin, Gawa, and Oksapmin. There is a hunger for God's Word in remote communities. When our planes in PNG go out to remote villages, they often carry Bible Boxes, full of Bibles, dictionaries and commentaries, which often sell out as soon as they've landed! Some people go remarkable lengths to get hold of these Bibles. And the journey doesn't end there.
Story by Mandy Glass. Photos by Glenda Giles and Mathias and Mandy Glass.
Tumolbil – outreaches over the mountains
Approaching Tumolbil airstrip is quite spectacular when the pilots descend into the narrow valley and align the aircraft to the centre line of the airstrip, which is a 475m long and 11% steep grassy patch of land. Usually, half of the village is lining up at the top of the runway to see who or what’s on the plane.
A pastor, one of our passengers from Tabubil who is returning home from a pastors’ conference, tells me that he and a few others often walk through the woods, doing outreaches to nearby villages. It is a march of two to three days, carrying Tok Pisin Bibles, which he buys in bulk from the MAF pilots. The demand is high.
'What impact does God's Word have to life in the communities on the other side?', I ask the pastor.
'Yes, life in our village sometimes is doing good, sometimes it gets worse. But ‘on the other side’ the people take the Word of God more seriously. They are somehow a bit ahead compared to us. I have the impression that their life as a church and as a community works much better than ours. Yet, God's Word also shows changes in our village; it has an impact on our families’ life, from the children to the elderly. It is part of our lives like the food is.'
More than 1000 Bibles sold!
Our MAF aircraft carry a Bible Box full of Tok Pisin Buk Baibels and some English Bibles, as well as little Bible dictionaries and commentaries, for distribution to the bush. The Bibles are provided by MAF Technology Services (in PNG known as CRMF) for sale at a hugely discounted price, affordable to many people in the bush. In addition, the pilots also try and provide eye glasses to help the people out there to read the Bible.
This year, our Wewak based pilots Paul Woodington and Sebastian Kurz have distributed over 1000 bibles to the people in the Sepik plains and northern parts of the Highlands, towards Telefomin and Mt Hagen.
Sumwari – rafting for Bibles
Mid August, Paul’s passengers for Sumwari were Gerhard and Brigitte Stamm, missionaries from Germany with Liebenzeller Mission, along with Hannes Waelde, another German, and two local co-workers from Moropote, East Sepik Province.
There they sold quite a number of Buk Baibels to the people attending their Bible Workshop. People from the remote mountain village of Domoli came down the fast flowing river on their rafts to attend the course and to buy Bibles. All of Gerhard’s stock of solar-powered audio Bibles were sold out too and the people placed more orders.
While at Sumwari, Gerhard and Hannes taught 23 one-hour lessons, covering the essential topics of the Bible, from Creation to Revelation. Towards the end of the course several villagers, from young to old, recommitted their lives to Jesus again.
Tekin – Spiritual Hunger and Student Carriers
'Here is 400 Kina. Please can you send another box of 40 Bibles,' says Glenda, still out of breath when she greeted us at the airstrip in Tekin. 'The one Paul brought last week is already sold out. It’s a bottomless pit at the moment!'
When asked who is buying all these Bibles, Glenda explains, 'local people, students, students going home and take them to their pastors, their relatives and their parents. Actually there is a big interest in spiritual things at the moment. It’s not just the school; this spiritual hunger goes through all the churches. Particularly this Buk Baibel, which is in a language they can understand, and the 10 Kina is ridiculously cheap. They just gather around the Bible.'
How does it effect the school life and the community? 'It changed the lives of some of the kids in the school. When you see a bad character and a kid with a bad attitude and then they commit themselves to Christ, you’ll see a big difference. There is a lot of prayer going on. In fact we have to insist the kids go to bed and don't spend all night praying.'
'Today the kids went out for a long weekend,' Glenda continues. 'They’ll go to Bak, Bimin, Gawa, Oksapmin. The kids came in after they were dismissed from assembly with 10 Kina notes and bought Bibles, concordances and Bible dictionaries. You know, they are just thrilled to do it. Their faces are just splitting with smiles as you know, because they will go home with two or three Bibles and share them with people.'
'This high school girl brought 10 Kina in ten and twenty Toea coins in a plastic bag to buy a Bible for her mother. I guess her mother saved all her small takings from selling vegetables at the market to purchase a Bible.'
It’s not only Glenda selling the Bibles. 'All the other teachers have to sell them too, because when I am in class people are coming to my desk in the staff room, begging to buy Bibles and therefore the other staff then sells them.'
Buk Baibel – The Chain of Carriers
What starts with MAF Technology Services (CRMF) and overseas donors, who each year provide and subside hundreds of Tok Pisin Bibles and other resources, continues with the pilots who use their turn-around times to sell the Bibles.
When out in the remote communities, the pilots open their Bible Boxes to provide God’s Word to the people, in places where there are no Christian Bookstores or online stores accessible to order Christian resources.
Then the chain continues with the people in the communities themselves, pastors as well as young high school students, who follow God’s command as well as their heart’s leading to purchase Bibles and carry them over mountains to bless others. Isn’t it amazing?