The Lord’s Purpose
After 22 years of work, Joan Farr and the Bible translation organization she works with made one of the hardest choices one dedicated to the work of literacy and Bible translation can make—to close down the Kombio translation project. But God wasn’t finished with the Kombio people!
“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail” (Proverbs 19:21).
What comfort we can take from the knowledge that the Holy Spirit does not depend on us and our works to accomplish his purposes! God calls us to be faithful and obedient to his Word and commands, to join him in the work he is doing to bring about his kingdom on earth. This brings glory to his name, but at the same time God does not need to wait around for us to act in order to make his kingdom come. Sometimes we live in obedience for years and years and just don’t see the fruits of our efforts when we expect them.
Joan Farr began working with the Kombio people in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 1987. She spent years learning the language, developing an alphabet to make a written form of Kombio. She spent decades on translation and literacy work, but met challenges and apathy time after time. Finally, in 2010, after 23 years of work with the Kombio people, their continued lack of interest in her work and the Word of God led to the decision to close the project. With a tearful farewell, Joan left to join her new husband, Jim, in his second Bible translation elsewhere in PNG. As I flew away with Joan and Jim in the helicopter years ago, I was saddened by what seemed like so many years of wasted work. Little did we know what the Lord had planned.
Despite the lack of interest in the Kombio Bible, Joan continued to work remotely with Jonathan, a Kombio lay pastor deeply committed to the use of his own language in worship. He continued with a few others to take courses and to find new ways to share the good news with his people. A few weeks ago, Jim, Joan, Jonathan, and I were privileged to travel by helicopter throughout the Kombio language area.
Joan and Jonathan had recorded the books of Matthew and Jonah as well as other Bible stories onto Audibible audio players and wanted to see if there was any interest in them. Joan took 100 Audibible players and 100 micro-SD cards for phones, which also contained the JESUS film. Admittedly, she was not expecting much response, just hoping that she might find interest in at least one.
At the very first village we visited, we found palpable excitement and sold 13 Audibibles as well as a bunch of SD cards and many of the various Kombio books that Joan had published. As the trip continued, we visited 12 villages and saw interest in each place to hear God’s Word!
At the end, she sold out all her supplies (100 Audibibles, 100 SD cards, and 84 additional prepaid orders)! And ALL the books she put out were sold, probably over 200! One woman said to me, “When you come back, make sure you bring many more! Bring hundreds!”
Three weeks later, a report assured us the people were still carrying their devices everywhere and listening all the time!
This woman walked to her garden listening to her Audibible the day after she bought it.
Jonathan, amazed, told me ‘A wall has fallen down.’ Hearing the Word of God is the beginning. Understanding and obedience are harder steps, especially in a culture that has so many opposing beliefs. Please pray for the Kombio people! Pray that the Holy Spirit would use these audio and printed Scriptures to bring change in their hearts and minds individually and bring about a changed community for the glory of God!