When missionary Jason Swanson visited the Siawi tribe where he had laboured so long, he was delighted to find the elders functioning in the Holy Spirit.
The small church would indeed look strange here in Canada. There is no sound system, no cushioned seats and no large worship band, just a small group of believers following and praising God.
The three elders, Beiyeme, Mabou and Nokee, asked Jason if he would teach the book of Philippians while he was there. He told them that he would not teach publicly but rather wanted to help them understand Philippians better so that they could teach it to the people. The elders were visibly upset. Jason told them to talk it over and decide what was best for the church and he would abide by their decision.
They talked among themselves and told Jason they did not want him to teach because some people would come just to hear him.
“There are still fake-believers, you know the ‘say with your mouth only’ ones here who come to hear you teach and then don’t come any other time. We don’t need them coming to the teaching times where we’re trying to strengthen believers. They need to get saved first and we’re trying to give them the ‘first talk’ (evangelistic Bible lessons) now in the village on weekdays. So we think it is good for you to not teach. Hopefully not as many people will come to the teaching,” the elders told Jason.
Jason went to the meeting where the elders were teaching and realised that they were using a form of “team teaching.” None of the missionaries had taught that or modeled that so Jason realised that it was God leading them in ways to teach His people His Word.
The ladies told Jason that the elders had told them to stop meeting. “I met with the elders and they had been praying about what they should do about the ladies meeting. They didn’t want to become the leaders of the ladies meeting. I then suggested that we appoint some Godly ladies to oversee these meetings. They were ecstatic. They weren’t truly sure if women could be appointed as leaders in the church and we talked about how ladies can be leaders over other ladies without any issues at all,” wrote Jason.
The men decided to appoint six ladies who had a good reputation in the village to lead and direct the ladies meetings.
The Siawi church sent out three missionaries to teach in other villages and they are seeing God’s provision. “These men and their families have now been going at this work of taking God’s Word to another people group for almost three years,” Jason wrote. “Ekebei says that there are 18 new believers.”
“Beiyali … has been faithfully assisting Ekebei in the teaching of God’s Word over at [a nearby village.] The languages are very close dialects and are somewhat easily understood in either village. They both are excited about getting through Acts and into Romans which helped them in their Christian walk so much,” Jason wrote.
Please pray that the Siawi believers will continue to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Pray also for the new believers in the neighbouring village.
NTM’s training prepares missionaries for each step of the journey, including equipping elders. Learn more.