Pilgrim United Methodist Church has a long history of supporting missionaries both in the US and abroad, as well as sending groups on short term missionary trips to Haiti and Jamaica. If you are interested in reading updates on some of the missionaries we support, check out our missionary update page here.
The Schafer Family are Missionaries in the Kora Valley. They have had a lot of spiritual warfare going on there as of late. Here are some of the emails that they have sent Pilgrim. We do support them financially and prayfully.
8:55am April 16, 2018……..
It is with heavy hearts that we write to tell you that Shelly’s brother Chad went home to be with the Lord today. It was not long after we wrote you about him being in critical condition, that we got word he was no longer with us. We are sad and mourn the loss of a friend, brother and uncle, but we rejoice that we have a hope that we will see him again one day. Please keep us, as well as the rest of Shelly’s family in your prayers during this time. Also continue to pray as Shelly will be heading back to the states tomorrow afternoon to be with her family and celebrate Chad’s life. We love you all.
Trusting in the one who has beaten death,
Craig and Shelly
12:12am, April 16, 2018…….
Hey guys, this is going to be short as we have a lot going on here, but we just heard this morning that Shelly’s brother Chad is in critical condition. He just recently finished up his last course of chemo and was healing up from that, when his blood pressure dropped really low causing blood clots that went to his brain. Then due to that he had a stroke and is now in critical condition. That is all we know right now as we are still getting information on this. Obviously, this is really hard for all of us, especially with all that is going on right now with the GKIP trying to kick us out. So we feel that it is best for Shelly to get back to be with her brother and family as they go through this. Shelly will be leaving tomorrow and traveling to Kansas City where she will meet up with her family. Please pray for her and her travels, but most of all be praying for Chad during this time. We really want to see Chad pull through this, but ultimately, we want to see God glorified in all this! Just pray and pray and pray.
Right now, I Craig and the kids will be staying here in Wamena. I am not really sure what comes next for us as we are still dealing with the GKIP and we have to try to figure out how the get the believers back into the village. So keep that in your prayers as well.
Through all of this though, we see the goodness of God and we feel his presence. We know that these trials and testing of our faith will produce perseverance and so we face them with a joy that can only come from the Lord. It is not easy, but we feel the presence of God and we are trusting him. Please continue to bring us before the Father over the next few weeks as they are going to be very different from what we had thought. Thanks for praying and we will keep you all up to date.
Trusting in our Faithful Father, Craig for Shelly and the kids
April 14, 2018…..
Exodus 14:13-14 “Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
Well I guess if I could sum this all up, I would just say that this verse up above really depicts what we have seen here over the last week! I will also say that just sitting and watching and waiting can also be very difficult at times! Shelly will send out a letter kind of wrapping up all this stuff that has been going on over here over the last week, but right now I just want to finish the rest of the story from yesterday!
So as you heard from Shelly, we got called back into more meetings with the chief of police yesterday which was a Saturday and also a holiday of some sort over here. So that was pretty crazy to be called back in like that, but it was good and we were able to just sit down with the police chief and talk about our history and all that we have been doing over here. To tell you the truth, I Craig did not even talk that much. Our leader with the national church here, Tibet, did a great job just laying out our working agreement with them, and what we have been doing in the village for the last 8 years. The chief of Police seemed really impressed with it and was also able to see a lot of the materials that we have produced and are working on yet. A few of the Kora believers were also able to speak up and tell the chief of Police how they love us and are not about to let us go! So that was all really neat to hear and I think impacting on the chief of Police.
After talking about that stuff for 45 minutes or so, the chief of Police said, “I am seeing that this is not an issue of being illegal or teaching false doctrine, but this is an issue of the GKIP (The cult that is trying to kick us out) trying to fight against the GKII church. (The church we work with over here)” He then went on to lay out the problems the GKIP (Cult) has been giving the GKII over the last years. (For those of you who don’t know, this is not the first time this cult has been giving the GKII church problems. They have killed people, burned churches and stoned people many times for their faith) So the chief of Police laid all that info out and said that what they are doing to us now is just the latest of their schemes. So he sat down, looked at the Kora believers and said, “I want you guys to protect these missionaries with your lives. They are foreigners under my protection and if something happens to them, it is on my head. So if something happens to them while they are in the Kora valley, I am telling you, and I will tell the GKIP (the cult) that I will come in there and wipe out your whole valley! I will burn it all!” Wow, talk about feeling protected! Then at that, he turned to all of us and said, “That is it. You guys are free to go home and continue your ministry in the Kora valley!” Woohoo! Praise God! That is the final decision that he has made and we are now clear to go home! What did I say at the top of this letter about God fighting for us! That is totally what happened and it felt like all we did was show up, wait, and watch the hand of the LORD!
So right now, we are waiting till Monday when the GKIP hears about this news. (They don’t know yet that we have been given permission to go home) and then we will see what their reaction is. We have believers out here in town who are standing for us and have really stuck their necks out for us, and we don’t want to just leave them high and dry, so we are going to wait around and see what happens. Our hopes are to be able to go back this coming Tuesday or Wednesday if we can. And maybe Thursday as well. We have 12 believers we brought out with us, so it probably won’t happen all in one day since each helicopter shuttle can only take 6 people.
Anyway, thanks so much for your prayers all week long. This has been a crazy trying and difficult week, but we really feel stronger and closer to each other, the believers and the missions community here in Wamena because of it. So many people from our own mission, MAF, Helimission, C&MA, the national church here and many others have stood together with us and some even dropping everything just to stand with us and help us through this issue. It has been encouraging, and humbling all at the same time to see the Body of Christ work together like this. Thank you all as well as we know that without you all praying like you have been, this would not have turned out the same. Thank you for your faithful prayer support for us and for the Kora people. We will stay in touch and like I said, Shelly will write another long letter to sum up all that has happened and how God has been working. We serve an awesome God, and I think he allowed us to go through this time just so we did not forget that! At unu nak nggoktak bogolat wulumok o! (Let us praise His name alone!) Love you all.
In awe of the power of our God,
April 13, 2018…..
Just wanted to let you guys know some new news! We had a meeting set up with a higher official for 1 pm in the afternoon yesterday, Friday. Craig and all the guys showed up and after sitting for about 45 min they were told that the big guy, who set up the meeting, decided to go on a long drive with his buddies up the mountain to hang out! So, the meeting was rescheduled for Monday. What a crazy thing that someone can set up a meeting and just decide to go hang out with his buddies and not tell the ones waiting on him for that meeting!
After hearing there was nothing we could do over the weekend, we settled down for as much of a relaxing weekend as we can have amidst what’s going on… then this morning, at around 9 am, Todd (a fellow missionary here that has been a HUGE source of support and help during this time, and has walked through this difficult time with us) showed up at our door and said he received a call that they changed the meeting to this morning! Yep, Craig needed to get his mind in gear again, get dressed to meet the official and go pick up the Kora guys all within an hour!
That is where they are now. I haven’t heard anything from them – hoping to hear how it went soon. Pray that things will go well despite the last minute notice!!! We are hoping this could speed things up and, Lord willing, make it so we can hear a decision sooner. Really though, we have no clue how long this will take or what the final decision will be – some days things look positive for going back to the Kora, then other days things look like we might not be allowed to return… We are all so very thankful we serve a God who is all knowing! A God who holds even the smallest details in His hands! Pray we can keep resting and following His leading. That we don’t get discouraged but will continue to keep our eyes fixed on Him! We are being taught to live, literally, from day to day lately – never knowing what tomorrow will bring. Not setting our hopes on things we can see, but on the unseen – a God who loves us, loves the Kora and turns all things into good for those who love Him. Praising Him, that although man and the enemy are trying their best to silence the Gospel of grace – He will glorify Himself, He will prove that He alone is stronger and more powerful than anything or anyone. Praising Him that He has already won the battle!
We love you all!!! Thank you Thank you Thank you for standing with us through this. We have been so encouraged by your prayers and thoughts on our behalf from far away and how God has provided for us by the families here who have cared for our every need! We are being surrounded on all angles by the Family of God and we are truly grateful and blessed!!!
Better be done and send this out.
April 12, 2018……
Hey guys, we just wanted to fill you in on what happened today. First of all, I just want to thank all of you who have been writing and encouraging us with your emails! Quite a few of you have actually written us and referanced 2 Chronicles chapter 20, which is so cool since that is what happened today! For the rest of you who can’t remember the story, go and read it and you will have a good picture of what took place here!
So, to fill you in, we picked up the 20 or 30 believers/supporters of us, from where they are staying here in town, and we took them back to our missionary friend’s house. (Just a side note, the mission’s community and the national church here has been bending over backwards for us! It has been so incredible and humbling to see them love us and help us through this time!) So anyway, we went to this mans (Todd Adams) house and once we got there, we were called into the intel department at the police station. At this time it was just Todd, me, and a good friend and the head of the church that we work with here in Papua (Tibet). We went, showed them all our papers and talked about some of the lies the opposition is telling about us. They seemed pretty satisfied with everything as we all checked out and they could see that what the opposition has been saying is not true.
Well as we were getting to the end of this talk, the leader who is leading this opposition against us, (Sem) showed up at Todd’s house, screaming at the believers, kicked over Todd’s motor bike, and yelled at Todd’s wife and daughter! We quickly sent the police over to Todd’s house and as they were going, Sem ended up coming over to the police station to confront us. Lets just say when he walked in, he had a contorted face of anger like you have never seen! To tell you the truth, to me it looked like something demonic was going on. He just stared at us for a while, then finally sat down. The police men started yelling at him for acting like an idiot and doing what he did, but Sem would not back down. He yelled right back and basically told the police as he was sitting in their office, “I own this place! I can do what I want!” which the police men did not appreciate that much! They told them if he kept acting like this, they were going to arrest him. Well while this was all going on, another one of the men opposing us came in, looking just as ticked off as Sem did. He just looked around and said, “Nope! We are not going to meet in here, everyone outside!” Well as you can imagine, the police were not about to be ordered around! They told him as well that if he kept acting like this, they were going to arrest both him and Sem! Well Sem jumped up and headed out the door. He then turned around, pointed at the police men and ordered them to stand up and get outside! Well that was it! One police man jumped up, told Sem to shut up, punched him in the chest and pushed him out the door! (At this point I so wanted to give a standing ovation!) Anyway, Todd, Tibet and I just sat there the whole time. We just sat and watched as the Lord went to work on our behalf and totally made Sem and the other guys look like utter fools in front of the police and really just shoot themselves in the foot!
So long story maybe a little shorter, the police did not arrest Sem, but we did not see him again. (I think they just sent him on his way) But one of the other guys that is trying to kick us out of the area came back in, and the intel police guys told us that they want us to come back tomorrow morning at 9. They are going to send us to another department within the police station and they are hoping that they can come up with a final decision! So we could possibly have permission as soon as tomorrow, that we can go back home! But there are many other possibilities as well, so we are just waiting patiently and trusting in what God is going to do on our behalf as we just wait on him and trust him. You can also be praying as now that we have seen the hatred and anger that Sem is fighting us with, I don’t think he will stop even if the Police tell him to. So just pray that God would continue to move and work in this situation and that ultimately, He would be glorified! Thanks again so much for your prayers and remember that we will be in meetings again around your Thursday night 8pm eastern time. We are excited and confident in what God is going to do!
Not needing to fight, but just standing and watching God work!
April 11, 2018……
I am writing you from Wamena! We came out of the village on Tuesday morning – We are praising God for the beautiful day He gave us! We were able to get all three shuttles out! Praising Him for controlling weather conditions!! He calms the winds and the waves and the crazy weather conditions of the Kora valley!
We arrived in Wamena Tuesday morning – and let me tell you that there are MANY MANY details we want to share with you when we have time! Crazy days here FOR SURE!!! But at this time, I want to make sure we can send this out to you quickly, so the details of all that has happened will have to wait. Up until now, our adversaries (the cult leaders) have continually postponed the meeting! They called us out of the village, hoping we would have no one to stand in our defense out here in Wamena, and yet MANY Kora people were able to make it out on those 3 shuttles – so they have continually postponed the meeting until they could gather up their forces So hopefully today – Thursday morning – at 9 am our time (in less than a half an hour) They will be finally meeting at the police office for our first “trial”. Please Please Please pray for wisdom! These men do not reason at all and do not think logically. Their arguments contradict eachother over and over again – they are blind leading the blind. So please pray for wisdom and peace to fall on Craig, Todd Adams (a fellow missionary here who has been a HUGE support and help to us and the Kora people here), Tibet (our local church leader who has also been a HUGE help and support to us and the Kora people), and for the believers that have come out to make a stand (Anius, Yoel, Pakaianus, Enias, Paulus, Emenius, Panus, Maranus – those are just a few of the names you might recognize) Pray for boldness to speak truth in the face of danger and ridicule. Most of all – just pray that the Spirit of the One and Only Living True God would unleash all His power in that room today! Pray that all those watching will be blown away by the power of the Spirit living in these people! We pray that He alone would be Glorified and Magnified today!
I could write so much more – but I need to run over to a friend’s house who has offered to let us use their internet and get this mailed out to you! So for now, this is all we can write. We will fill you in later with details and pictures! Thank you all for standing so strong with us! Your words of encouragement have lifted us up more than you know! Craig is tired, but he is trusting in God’s power to keep him going! We are encouraged in the verse that says when you stand before officials and high authorities, do not be afraid. For the Spirit will be the one teaching you what to say!
Thank you for fighting this fight with us – please continue to also praise God along with us – that He alone is in control and nothing happens without His permission! We are in His hands and His hands alone!
We love you all!
Bye for now,
April 8, 2018…..
I guess I don’t know where to start, and I have to keep this short. You all have been following our struggle here with the cult. Two nights ago, as we were preparing to get stuff ready to go into the village, Craig received many text messages from the main guy who is trying to get us kicked out saying that we would see on Monday morning how serious he was! He was planning a Demo in front of the helicopter hanger and said we would not be allowed to leave. We were a bit shaken by this, but trusted that God had it all in control. Monday morning came around, we pulled up to helicopter hanger, and there were 2 guys standing outside… not too bad. We said good morning and pulled into the hanger. As we prepared to leave, the crowd grew. We managed to take off and arrive in the village – where I am writing to you now. However, as soon as we got here, we were given the call that we needed to come back out. These men had gone to the government offices – specifically, the Department of Religion (who gives us permission to be in the country) and told them we need to be kicked out. So we have been summoned into the Department of Religion to prove that we are not doing what they say we are doing. I am writing you all to ask for prayer! The believers and people here in the village are upset at what is taking place – they want us to stay here with them. It is the schooled guys out in town, that are part of this cult, that are wanting us out of here. Tomorrow morning, we will once again, pack up our family, and head out to town, along with 6 Kora leaders who will stand on our behalf. I am sure I don’t have to tell you that we are tired, weary of this fight… you have all been following with us and know what has all taken place. I also probably don’t have to tell you that we are a bit nervous of all that will take place in the coming days. In and of ourselves we are weak, we are weary… but He who is in us is Strong and Courageous! Please pray that He will live His life out through us during this trying time! It’s hard for me to put into words what we are feeling and thinking – we did not expect it to come to this – the very possibility of being kicked out of the place we have come to love is heart breaking to say the least! These are our thoughts – our human thoughts, thoughts brought about by what we see and hear… But we are convinced that His ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts are higher than ours – He has this all in His hands – His way will prevail, we have absolutely no doubt in our minds about this. We are finding comfort in His Word – ‘Be strong and courageous’, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you”, “Stand still and let the Lord fight for you”… so many promises given to us by our God and Savior. We are inviting you in to fight the fight with us! Lets lift our voices up to the only True God and watch and see what He does!!! He is the one who builds up nations and kings and can tear them down. All glory be to our Great and Faithful God!!!
In this together with you all,
Craig and Shelly
April 5, 2018……
Hey everyone, this will be quick as we are packing up in order to head back towards home tomorrow! We just wanted to let you know a little about some of the plans coming up in the next week though. Even though Satan has been working to discourage and destroy, we have seen God’s hand working mightily on our behalf and strengthening the Kora church. Just this last week after all the meetings happened with the cult that is trying to kick us out of the country, we got word from our coworkers the Palmers that everyone in our village Nggingginem were all pretty upset about it. In the end, 9 leaders of the village signed a letter saying they do not want us to leave, but they are happy with what we are doing and want us to stay in there. They wanted to make sure that we got this letter into the hands of the church leadership that we are working with, so they could see that the whole village is standing with us. So that was really encouraging to see and I think it will help to have a document like this.
So tomorrow we head back towards the town of Wamena where we will spend the weekend. While there we hope to connect with the Kora believers in this town again and see how they are taking all the attacks against us and them. We also hope to talk about getting the head of the church we work with, along with the head of our village and some other key players, to come into the village and hear from the people themselves that they are wanting us to stay there. Please pray for this time though as we have heard that a lot of the people who are opposing us, are now also in the town of Wamena as well, and we could easily see them trying to cause trouble for us getting back into the village. So just pray that we would let it all rest in God’s hands and trust him with it. We have seen him move and work through these things already and so are trusting that he will continue to do so.
We will be in Wamena over the weekend, and then will head into the village on Monday. Then the next day, we will have the leaders that I spoke of, come in and hopefully get another letter signed stating that the Nggingginem people want to be working with the church group that we are under, and also be served by us two families in there. If this happens, then the cult that is working against us, would not really have any more ground to stand on to try to kick us out. That does not mean they will not try other ways, but legally they will have no grounds to kick us out. So anyway, just keep all this in your prayers as there are so many uncertain things at this time. But again, we know that God has this all worked out and so we are thankful that we can trust him.
We will not have internet while in Wamena and not sure if our internet will be up and running in the village when we get there. But we will update you as soon as we can on all that is going to take place over the next week. Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. We could not do this without you!
Trusting in the one who knows all things,
Craig, Shelly and the kids