Mibu believers in Papua New Guinea are growing through difficulties.
Several deaths among the Mibus have the people nearly reeling with grief. Yoonare, a joyful believer, died from cancer recently and the people drew together to aid her husband and nine children.
Nine-year-old Joonoomeng ran down to the river ahead of her friends and was not seen again until her body found several days later.
Parenoowe, her mother, is consumed with grief and is asking the same questions many parents ask when they lose a child. Missionary Brooke Tartaglia tried to comfort Parenoowe but in the face of such deep grief it is difficult to find words.
"After the church service, when many of the people had dispersed, Parenoowe grabbed my skirt as I walked by, pulling me down on the rough bench next to her," wrote Brooke. "Her face was drawn and tight, eyes still shining with tears carefully held in check. She leaned her face very close to mine, and with great emotion asked if we could talk about her daughter."
"Her searing pain showed in her eyes, her voice and the tight grip she held on my hand. Her questions are the same that anyone would wrestle with, ’Why did this happen? Did I do something wrong that God allowed this? Where is she now? Will I see her again?’"
Brooke told Parenoowe that God was not angry with her and that He was not punishing her, that He loves her and her children.
Then Brooke asked about Parenoowe’s son, Weng. He is a Bible teacher whose countenance shines with the love of Jesus. He has encouraged and held the family together during this rough time.
"Yes," Parenoowe replied. "He tells me the same."
In spite of the difficulty of dealing with grief and loss the Mibus are evidencing growth in their walk with the Lord. At a past meeting, Jemsnannya, a Mibu believer, stood and said, "Before, when someone would die we were without hope and used to follow our ancestors’ customs, like spitting to the sun. But now is the beginning of the harvest of our people going to Heaven."
Pray that the Mibu believers continue to stand strong in their faith and trust God to work in their lives.