This email came from Craig Schafer on May 17, 2018: Let’s keep them in our prayers as they struggle through this journey.
Psalms 13:2 – How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Well to be honest with everyone, these were my thoughts in our meetings yesterday. I guess that kind of gives away what happened. Anyway, yesterday as most of you know, we sat down and had a meeting with the department of religion here, as well as with the GKIP. I am not even totally sure how to sum up the 4.5 hour meeting, but it was discouraging in a lot of ways. In the end, we still do not have permission to go back in. The most frustrating part in all of this, is that everyone that we meet with, (Other than the GKIP) agrees that we are teaching truth, and we should be allowed to go back into the village and keep working. But whenever the police, department of religion or whoever else voices that, the GKIP start yelling and shouting that we cannot continue to minister! And in the end, no one is brave enough to stand up to them and tell them it is not their call! So basically, that is how the meeting yesterday went. We both stated our case, the head of the office there said he did not think we were teaching lies and that he thought it would be fine for us to go back to Nggingginem. At that point, the GKIP make a big fuss and in the end, the head of the department of religion decided it was best for us not to go back at this moment, but that he was going to go back and talk to the police about it and maybe take our case to another department in the government here.
So yeah, we are still stuck out in Wamena just waiting. I tell you all though, I really ask for prayer for this situation and also for this whole island here of Papua. As you know, I often call the GKIP a cult as I believe according to what they are teaching, that is what they are. But you have to also realize that the government here considers them a “church”! Just watching all this, and realizing they are doing the things they are doing in the name of being a “Church”, gives me a burden for the lostness and darkness of this island. Satan has blinded so many people here to the truths of God’s word. We sat in this meeting and heard “Pastors” talking about things that are not biblical like they are biblical! Most of these men do not have an understanding that salvation comes in Christ alone apart from the works of the law! These men tried to argue “theological” points with us, without ever once using a passage of scripture! I guess just going through all this, makes me see more and more the dark cloud of lies and misunderstanding that covers so many on this island. So please be praying. Pray that while the Kora believers are surrounded by so many of these lies, they would be able to stand firm in their understanding and belief that their salvation is found in Christ alone and nothing else!
So right now we are just waiting. They say that we could be called back into a meeting today or tomorrow, but that is hard to tell right now. Also please don’t take my honesty here about how I am feeling to mean that I have lost faith and not trusting in God. No, even in our sadness and discouragement, we know that God is working and he has a plan in all this. And we are trusting in him to work in a mighty way. I started this email with the beginning of Psalms 13:2 as that is a lot how we are feeling. But I want to end with the end of Ch. 13 as, just like David was clinging to his hope in God, we also are clinging to our hope in Him. Psalms 13:5-6 – But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.
This reminds me of a conversation that I had with Panus, one of the Kora believers here in Wamena. We were talking about all they have been going through with the persecution and being slandered and made fun of for their faith. I asked him how he was doing, and he looked at me and said, “Craig, I won’t lie. This is all really hard and I am tired. But can I tell you that I am not doing good? No, I can’t say that. God has taken my sins and thrown them away and made me his child. So even though we are suffering, I can still say that I am doing good!”
Panus is the man all the way to the right in this picture
I think Panus summed up well how we are feeling. Yes, we are tired, we are frustrated, but we are still doing good. Why? Because God is good, and he has saved us, he has made us his children, he has placed his spirit within us, and he is preparing a place for us in heaven! Thanks for praying for us in all that is going on here. Keep praying for the Kora believers as they are being persecuted for their faith, and also pray for the GKIP, Sem, Lazarus, and others who are fighting God. Pray that God would change their hearts or that he would remove them from being an obstacle to what he is doing in the Kora. Thanks so much for all your love and prayers during this time!
Hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, Craig and Shelly
I was running the other morning before one of our meetings and looked up and saw this rainbow. Actually, over the last week or so, we have seen many rainbows in the sky here. It is just a good reminder that God is faithful. Just as he has kept his promise not to destroy the earth with a flood again, he is keeping all his other promises as well. One of them which is found in Romans 8:28– And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose. As I looked up at this rainbow, I was reminded that God is going to work this all out for good!