A Seat of Honor
Report from Ese Bible Institute Graduation
Oro Province, Papua New Guinea
“He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor.”
The verse above is from the Song of Hannah, written from her heart to express the incredible way God lifted her up out of her desperation to a place of honor and purpose. God is faithful in the lives of all people, and Hannah’s words accurately describe the incredible work God has done the last few decades in the lives of the Managalasi people of Oro Province, PNG. They are known throughout Papua New Guinea as the “no head” people, thought to be unintelligent, poor, and forgotten by God. They are disciple material indeed; just the kind of people God raises from the dust and ashes of unbelief to transform into His children.
Beginning with the pioneer work of Jim and Jaki Parlier in 1962, God has faithfully brought salvation to the Managalasi people, followed by literacy and an accurate translation of the Bible into their language in 1976, a Bible revision in 2000 and finally sound teaching of God’s Word through the establishment of Ese Bible Institute in 2004. With each new provision, God shows His love for these people and the transforming power of His Word in their lives.
I have recently returned from Numba village where we witnessed the third graduation of Ese Bible Institute. You will see from the pictures that it was a great time of celebration and pride, not in themselves, but in what God has done for them. Repeatedly throughout the ceremony the honor and glory was given to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Below are some excerpts and pictures that will help me convey to you the glory of that day!
January 9, 2010
The 75 students were escorted into the ceremony with song, dance and celebration. Family, friends and clan members came to Numba from all over the Managalasi plateau to witness the event.
A welcome speech was given by Sovi Maryah, a local church elder. His own words summarize the history and intent of EBI,
“Previously the Bible seminars were conducted and pastors and leaders from the various churches across the plateau who attended these seminars all strongly agreed that a permanent Bible School be established. Today we are witnessing the result of the great decisions that were made by these great men of God. The school was purposely designed to train and equip pastors and leaders— young men and women of all churches to rightly divide the truth of the Living Word of God to extend the Kingdom of God on the planet Earth.”
For those of you who regularly give and pray for the work in PNG, take encouragement from Sovi’s expression of thanks as he spoke on behalf of the students and their families:
“The EBI is the cheapest school you will find anywhere in this nation, and the quality and the standard of teaching is very high. The school is financed by the churches and individual faithful Christians living across America and Australia. They ensure that the school building is up to standard, the students are well fed, and high quality materials are issued freely. The lecturers come from America and Australia. They are highly trained lecturers who sacrifice themselves to come to this school. We owe a great debt to the counterpart churches and individual faithful Christians in America and Australia. May the good Lord make you prosperous in whatever your hand touches.”
The next speech was given by a village elder, George Avejari. He expressed the heart-felt gratitude that the Managalasi people as a whole have for Jim Parlier and his wife Jaki. These are his own words, words that brought tears to many eyes:
“… I would like to express our special welcome to the founder of EBI and a Bible translator, veteran Jim Parlier … I want to thank him for his great contribution and effort he has made in order to put us right to the great saving knowledge of God, from the last many years, from his young age carrying the Word of God to this nation and plateau entirely and lived in Numba village since early 60s, leaving his countrymen and his comfort zone to a land of unexpected, to fulfill His great commission ´go and make all men to be my disciples,’ and because of Jim’s commitment and effort made us true disciples of Jesus Christ, now we know where our eternal destiny is! Amen! Jim is an American citizen, but we regard him as our own man, a man born from Numba village, having experienced our culture and tradition. It is very hard to express our heart-felt gratitude to Jim, but we say, thank you for coming to our village to witness your labor, bearing fruits of eternal glory.”
Jim and Jaki’s life of dedication to the Gospel has given birth to spiritual fruit that has changed the course and destiny of thousands of lives and will reach into further generations. We should all be challenged by their example and pray for their continued service to Jesus Christ, our Lord. One of the highlights of the ceremony for me was watching Jim give each graduate a personal, intimate exhortation, at times in the midst of a strong embrace and tears of gratitude.
George also spoke these words to encourage the graduates “… when you graduate today, go back to your local churches … and do not hide what you learned from the past two years, but put to practice what you have learned, because this is a high calling from above.”
Roger Giaruva, from PNG’s National Training Center, was instrumental in helping Jim get national accreditation for EBI. He was in attendance at the graduation and also encouraged the students to live out the truth they have learned. He said:
“And now to the 66 graduates, the most important persons on this occasion. In the last 2 years you have been given or undergone the best and most wholesome and complete education that could be given in the development of a person. Unlike secular education such as diploma in accounting or human resources, which provides you only a small portion in equipping you in the walk of life, the education you have received is wholesome and complete and adequately equips you for your walk of life.
And so graduates, you have received the best, wholesome and upbuilding education to adequately prepare you for every good work. You may be tempted to feel inadequate, but don’t feel inadequate. You are now adequate because of the training you have received. May our loving Father and Grand Creator continue to richly bless you as you proceed from here.”
We were really excited to bring our contact from India into Numba village to attend the graduation ceremony and encourage the village people. Since he and his congregation have a similar work going on in India and they have regularly prayed for EBI, we thought it only fitting that he visit Numba with us. He was one of the main speakers at the ceremony and strongly challenged the students to pursue a life of dedicated service to the Lord and Savior who willingly sacrificed His life for their sins. Since his own life story is one of being raised up from poverty and dust to serve the Living God, the students could very closely relate to his life experience and were encouraged by his example.
Gene is the director of Ese Bible Institute and gave the dedication prayer at the ceremony. He reminded the students that he cannot dedicate their lives to Christ’s service—it is something they must do each and every day from the depths of their own heart. Gene encouraged them to serve as Christ served and to diligently heed the calling of God in their lives to be sent out as Christ was sent.
At the end of the ceremony, graduates were called forth one by one to receive their hard earned diplomas. They were often escorted forward by family members dressed in traditional garb and adorned with tears of pride. Some villagers came and did a traditional dance when a student from their village was called forward. Others graduates were literally lifted up and bodily carried to the stage to receive their diplomas. All of these actions are a vivid representation of the support and pride family members and friends had for their triumphant students. It was a funny contrast to me to see the students remain very somber throughout the graduation ceremony and yet their loved ones were full of smiles, tears, and dance in their behalf.
This report is a little long but I won’t apologize for that. For those who take time to read it, there will be a glimpse of God’s love for souls that are hungry to know Him. I count it a great privilege to have been by Gene’s side for this short time in Numba and to witness with my own eyes the outpouring of God’s grace and mercy in the lives of men and women hidden away in the jungles of this world. Indeed, He is no respecter of persons. While many men in this world surround themselves with steal and glass and attempt to satisfy their empty souls with gourmet evils, the Managalasi people of PNG continue to humbly dwell in bamboo and grass but feast on the richest treasure this world has to offer—the gold and honey of God’s Word!
In the early morning darkness of Graduation Day, we were rudely awakened by the terrifying squeal of a big pig as it was being killed and butchered for the after graduation “yam feast” in which the people of Numba graciously fed those who were attending as guests in the village. These people very rarely have a chance to eat any kind of meat or protein so the roast pork this pig provided was quite a treat for all in attendance. Take a look at this photo and just try to imagine the number of yams and bananas that were cooked over a fire on this day! The amount of food was enormous, equaled only by the appetites of the Managalasi people!
Gene remains in Numba to continue the teaching ministry. He is there with Jim, Logan, Desiree, Mark, Mikal, Brianna and Eric. Continue to pray for them as they don’t fly out of the village until Jan 25. When Gene returns to civilization, he will no doubt fill you in on more details from the trip, including a description of our “treacherous” 12-hour hike into the village, his course through Galatians, the new intake of students, Virginia’s NEW kitchen, and the flaming desire that is now burning in the Managalasi hearts to reach out to other peoples with the Gospel of God’s love.
I am flying out of PNG a bit early to spend some extra time with our children and granddaughter in Australia. But I wanted to share this message with you all because you are the backbone of BTBM’s outreach into PNG and the world. Be encouraged by God’s faithfulness! He continues to use you as a tool in His Hand to raise men out of the dust and ash heaps of this world and place them in a seat of His honor!
Rejoicing in Him!
Esua and Tamani!