|Emailed on October 5, 2018
Wow, so I see it has been a little while since we updated you all! To be honest, we are still trying to get used to life out in town here! The pace of life and the things to do and stuff that needs to be done, seem to be a little more out here than in the village! Slowly but surely though we are settling in and getting used to things out here.
Ok so not totally sure where to start, but we do want you to know that after a few months of travel and being here and there, we are finally settled into a permanent/temporary house! We have some great friends at MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) who have helped us out a ton, even to the point of letting us and our coworkers the Palmers live in two of their houses on their base up here in Wamena! We have felt totally blessed by all their generosity and now we have a place that we can call home for the next few months. It took us a little bit to get a bunch of furniture together, (Also provided to us by the mission community here in Wamena!) and then to get set up. But we are all settled in now and doing good. The plan is to be here till sometime in January when we hope to be able to move back into the village.
So yeah, that is the plan, but will it happen, will it not? We don’t really know that but we are glad that we are serving the One who does know! We will keep heading that way till God shows us something else and just trust that this is His will for us right now. On that note, the police investigation is moving, just not real fast. We have had a bunch of eye witnesses to the fire testify about it and also some guys testify as to who offered the money to burn it down and who accepted it. The guys who offered the money are opening admitting it and the guy who burned it as well is openly admitting it. So, it seems like it should be an open and shut case, but not here! We will still have to see how this all plays out. Most of the people from our area want us to go back and each time we meet with Kora people, they seem overwhelmingly supportive of us. But there are still just a few there that are kicking and screaming and making a fuss, and so that is holding things up. Just pray that God would give us wisdom in all of this. It feels like we have been in and out of that police office too many times to count and yet there are still not decisive actions that are being taken. It can be frustrating, so just pray that we would be patient and continue to walk in the light that God has given us each day at a time.
In the meantime, we are having a great time getting to interact with the believers that are living out here! God is really doing some neat things in their lives and we are excited to be a part of it. As of right now, I Craig am working with 3 guys to get them to the point where they will be able to teach our Bible lessons on their own and hopefully be able to lead this little church when we go back to the village. Each week on Thursday I go up to where the Kora believers are living and work with these guys in practicing their portions of the lesson that they will then teach on that next Sunday. We talk about what they are doing good, what they can do better and so on and so forth. We have just started so they are still doing small portions, but so far it is going really well. The guys I am working with are Panus, Nggoro, and Penius (who just came out of the village this week). Please keep them in your prayers as getting up in front of your peers and teaching can be intimidating! So then each Sunday we teach together, and then each Wednesday I am teaching just the believers through some security in Christ curriculum. This last week we had some really good discussions about where our salvation is found and we need to stand firm on those truths. It was really neat to see everyone really into it and to see the smiles and joy as we talked again about the fact that our hope is found in nothing less than Jesus and his righteousness! Please keep all the Kora believers in your prayers. Both here and back in Nggingginem.
So just a neat little story about one of the guys I am teaching to teach. He is a neat kid who has some physical growth issues. He is supposedly in his mid 20s, but he looks like he is a young teenager. Due to that, his is not respected a lot, but he really has a heart for the Lord and is a very sharp kid. Just the other day he had his song sheet out and on the side of it he had drawn all over it. I yelled at him and told him never to do that again! Just kidding, I did not do that! Actually, the notes he had written were a little prayer to God. It was so cool that I had to take a picture of it. The picture below is what it looked like, but this is what it said.
The Cross of Jesus. Older brother Jesus, thank you thank you thank you. You died for me. Me a sinner, you died for me. My father Yahweh, thank you. You are so good.
On this cross I should have died, but in my place Jesus died. My father Yahweh you are so good. I am so happy. Was it because I am a good person that Jesus died? NO! My ancestors Adam and Eve sinned so we as well are sinners. And it was in our place that he died. He died so now what should we do. We say thank you, thank you, thank you!
Anyway, just keep this neat kid in your prayers as he navigates life out in town here, going to high school (Yes, he is in his mid 20s going to high school, but that is very normal here. It is not even surprising here to meet a 20 year old guy that is in elementary school!) and also now that he is going to try to be learning how to teach and lead his peers in studying the word of God!
On another note, we are happy to say, (We are happy, not our kids) that we got our school books from the states just last week! Some other good friends brought back 3 pieces of luggage for us and the school books were in there. (Just a note here, for those of you who have not traveled with multiple kids and pieces of luggage overseas, it is a pain in the neck! And this family with 5 kids brought 3 pieces over for us!) So now that we have school books, the kids and shelly have been able to get back into a better routine of things. Please keep them in your prayers as well as there are a lot of distractions to keep little minds off of school and on other things out here!
Last but definitely not least, we just want to ask you all to keep the region of Palu Indonesia in your prayers. In case you have not seen it in the news, they were hit with a huge earthquake that set off landslides, and also a 10-foot tsunami. That does not sound that big, but look at videos of it on the internet and you will see the damage it can cause. Right now the death toll in Palu is close to 1500 people. Our mission has a base right there in that city so we have a lot of friends and coworkers who were affected by this. Thankfully all the people in our mission are safe and accounted for and are right now being evacuated to safer places. But the area as a whole is just devastated. Please keep them in your prayers as they first seek to assess the situation and then in the months ahead as they seek to rebuild. If you would like to give towards the disaster relief, you can do so with the information that I have added below. Thanks so much for your prayers.
Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, Craig Shelly and the kids
This email came from the Schafer Family on Sunday, September 15, 2018
Well after about two weeks of silence due to traveling all over, we are back! We just wanted to write and let you know that our trip to Jakarta went well. We have new passports now, we were able to do a lot of shopping and rebuying of a lot of things that were lost in the fire, and then we were met with a surprise visitor! Well, we had known she was coming, but the kids did not. Shelly’s younger sister, Crystal, was able to come to Jakarta and see us for the week that we were there! It was great to have some family around during a time like this and the kids were shocked to see her walk out of the airport! We want to thank everyone who made that visit possible!!! It was such a great encouragement to all of us!! The kids had a great time with their aunt Crystal and the time went by all too fast.
While we were in Jakarta, our coworkers, the Palmers, finally got a good weather day so that they were able to go back into Nggingginem! We had been trying for a while, but it had just been really bad weather each time so we’re not able to get in. But this time Jeff was able to get back in and said that everything seemed to be going good in there. The people are really sad to not have us in there right now, but Jeff had a good time talking with them all and explaining that even though we have to be out in town for a few months, our hope and goal is to be able to come back to live in there next year. They were all happy to hear that and we really hope that will be able to happen. Jeff was also able to get a lot of their stuff out of the village, (School books and stuff to live on over the next few months in Wamena here) so that was nice for them to be able to get so they do not have to rebuy all of it! Please keep them in your prayers as well as they will be living out here in Wamena with us as well until we get this all resolved, and we feel like it is safe for us as a team to move back in.
So after the time in Jakarta, we were in Sentani for two days and able to pack up all the other stuff we were either given or were able to buy down there. We got a full planeload with Yajasi (One of the missions that fly us here) and came back up to Wamena this last Wednesday! Since then we have been set up here in Wamena a little bit. We will be in the guesthouse here at MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) till the house we will be renting (Also with MAF) comes available on the 21st. Then at that point, we will get set up and hopefully get back into school, translation, and working with the Kora church in Wamena here! So yes, it has been a bit of a road to get to this point, but we are starting to feel a little more normal with where we are at. Still, at times we get that lost feeling of not really knowing where this is all headed, but we are still confident that God is in control and wherever this leads, He will be going before us and leading us. That is so good to know in times like this. So thank you for your prayers and please keep praying as we still have a lot of work to do to see this all resolved.
Ok, so that leads us to where we are at in resolving this issue. Sadly, things are not moving forward really well. On the legal level, we have reported to the police, but their lead investigator was gone for a while so nothing really happened with that. But just yesterday we were able to go back into the office and talk with the criminal investigation department. They seemed ready to help, but once again the guy who has been assigned to our case was not in! So we hope that maybe today or early next week we will be able to talk to him and see what they can do. We have a lot of evidence and testimony about the guys who have done this, so it seems like it would be an open and shut case, but things are never quite that easy over here. So keep it all in your prayers!
Then on the church front, things are moving slowly as well. This GKII/GKIP split happened 12 years ago and there have been things like this that have happened pretty consistently over the years. So due to that, no one really wants to get their hands dirty in this issue again! We have had a meeting with one of the head church/government leaders here in Papua and it seemed to go ok, but since then nothing really happened. The normal cultural thing to do in a situation like this is to slap the offender’s hand and make either his clan or the government pay for what he did. Nothing usually happens to the offender directly, so it seems that is more the way that people are looking at this going down. We would like the offenders to be held responsible for what they did so that they would not be able to keep doing it, and just assuming that someone else will pay for it. But will that happen? We will see! Anyway, this whole thing is a pretty tangled web, so just keep it in your prayers. Also, keep us and the palmers in your prayers as we try to navigate all of this. Trying to figure out who to talk to, when to talk to them, what right cultural way to handle this, and also how to handle this as a believer. Sometimes it is hard to figure all that out.
A big ‘THANK YOU!!’ from our family to all of you!!!
So last but not least, we want to say a big THANK YOU to you all! We have been blown away by all of your offers to help, money sent to us, packages sent to us, and everything else that you have all been doing. Both in the US and here on the field, the body of Christ has been surrounding us in a huge way and showing us what Christian love looks like. So many times I wish the people who did this could see how all of you are surrounding us with your love and helping us get back on our feet. Maybe one day they will understand that, but I just think they would be blown away by seeing what the love of Christ, as it is poured out through God’s children, really looks like! They have never seen anything like this and I think it would amaze them! But for right now, since they are not seeing it, I guess we are the only ones that get to stand amazed! We know all of you, and so we knew that you would rally around us, but I don’t think we knew to what extent! Thank you all so much. We love you all and feel so blessed to be working through all of this with you. Thank you for letting Christ’s love flow through you and onto us!
With love from our family,
Aug 30, 2018 last update from the Schafer Family:
Ok, so this will have to be short, as we are short on time with lots going on! First of all, just wanted to let you all know that once again, due to weather, Jeff and I were not able to get back into the village on Monday. Jeff is still hoping to get back in there sometime soon to get some of their stuff out, but that date is still to be determined. Then on Tuesday, our family was able to make it down to Sentani! We are now at our guesthouse here and have been looking through all the stuff that has been offered to us. We are slowly getting things together and ready to ship up to Wamena.
A little change in plans here is that we are now planning on going to Jakarta, the capitol city of Indonesia. We are in need of new passports in the next few months, and since right now we are trying to get new house hold items together, we thought it might be a good time to just go now so that we can get some better quality stuff there, in comparison to what we can get here. (There is an Ikea in Jakarta!) So, the plan now is to leave for Jakarta on Saturday, be there for a week and come back. When we get back here to Papua, we will pack all the stuff up that we have been collecting and all fly up together to Wamena. Then we will start to put things together and hopefully get settled into what has become life for us now! So different from what we had imagined just a few weeks ago, but this is the road God has chosen for us, so we are ready to start walking it and see where it leads!
Thank you all so much for your prayers and support of us. There is no way we would be able to get back on our feet financially if it was not for all of you. So, thank you for being a part of our team and holding us up through this tough time. Keep praying as well for the Kora believers. As far as we have heard, things are going fine in there, but they are pretty torn up about what happened and the fact that we are not in there with them right now. Just keep praying that God would use this to strengthen all of us, and that he would be glorified in it all.
We walk by faith, Craig, Shelly, and the kids
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!