Tuesday, June 11, 2013

When The Night Bird Sings

When the night bird sings here, in the middle of the jungles of Papua New Guinea, in a place called Hewa, it is not a beautiful sound or a welcomed song.

When the night bird sings, people yell, and light fires and wear special necklaces and grasses to keep it away.

When the night bird sings everyone is afraid of the evil spirit it represents and what it will do to them or their loved ones.

Yes, this is a village that has the truth of Jesus Christ. They know God is more powerful, but they also read in scripture that we are in a battle against spiritual forces that we cannot see. They've heard the warnings of Jesus that Satan is lurking around trying to destroy the people God loves.

It becomes a difficult time of discipleship for the missionary. Yes, Satan is very real, and really wants to destroy you. But, God is stronger. He loves you and cares for you and does not want you to be afraid. The power is with God and His love- not necklaces or fires or anything man can manipulate with his hands. The missionary is most terrified of something called �syncretism.� It is where the person hears God's Word and blends it with his previous beliefs. Not fully placing his trust in God alone, but mixing his faith and practices. It is basically a curse word, especially in New Tribes circles, and it means a big fat FAIL sign stamped on your work. It makes us want to squash this night bird nonsense ASAP.

The interesting thing is, that the night bird has come here singing, and bad stuff really is happening at the same time.

We have several very sick children and babies.

We had a visit from some people in our very violent and volatile neighboring tribe who know it is illegal to come here.

A man who is new to the village and not a believer tried to hang himself (unsuccessfully, Praise the Lord).

All of this has happened in the last three days and all when the night bird started to sing. It shows me that Satan really does want to fight for this territory. He wants to whisper the same doubt that he whispered into the ear of Eve at the beginning of time, �Did God really say�?� He wants God's people to question His word. He doesn't want any of the new people here to believe the scriptures they are hearing for the first time.

It is strange, but sometimes I think that these people understand the spiritual world better than we do. My first instinct when I hear about this dreaded night bird is to laugh and feel superior with my Western scientific education. I want to tell them that they are being ridiculous. I come from a world where spiritual things just don't exist. And even though many of us believe in a God who is Spirit, we somehow push that thought to the back of our minds and focus on the Man instead. We read the things in His word that apply to our daily lives in the physical world- the eating, the drinking, the money- the things we can see and taste and touch, and somehow pretend that the other stuff doesn't really exist or doesn't really matter, anyway. It is our own form of syncretism. Sure, sure- we believe in God and heaven and all that, but we really cling to that which is tangible and in front of our faces. Too much �spirit� makes us charismatic, and who knows what that leads to.

The truth is, that we all have our own forms of syncretism, and just because someone shows signs of that, doesn't mean they are not saved. It doesn't mean the missionary has failed. It means there is an opportunity for discipleship, yes, but that is why we are still here, right? That is why we are working to give them God's Word in their language, so they can grow in their faith. That is why I, as a believer, read that same Word every single day. So I can grow and mature. So I can learn more and more about God and put away false thinking and beliefs.

It is also why I am here in the middle of the jungle. Yes, it is to bring God's Word to one of the most remote people groups on the planet, but it is also to learn more about God and who He is. I fully believe He called me here. He wanted me to do something for Him, so that I could know Him better. So I could see Him in ways I never would have at home. He wanted to open my eyes to the spiritual world and see that it truly does exist just as His Word says. He wanted me to stop listening to Satan whisper in my own ear, �Did God really says that there are demons, and evil forces trying to hurt people? You are more intelligent than that. You are educated. Sure believe God and heaven and all that, but anything else will make you sound like some weird girl from a cult.�

God wants me too see the truth, and to focus on what is real. The unseen. The eternal. I am so grateful to Him for opening my eyes to all of it. Because in the unseen world- in the eternal- God wins. Victory is His and mine in Him. It is a beautiful place of peace and rest. Because even though I know Satan is real and true evil exists. It is only temporary. And God has overcome all of it through the death and resurrection of His Son�His Son that loves me and calls me by name.

So I thank the Lord for the night bird. And I thank Him for allowing me to see the struggles of my Hewa brothers and sisters. Their struggles revealed my own and connected me to them in a new way. The family of God learning and growing together, and that is so much more powerful than Satan or Science or Syncretism.


  1. a very thoughtful and powerful post, Jessi. Thank you for sharing your journey.
    Pat Chell

  2. Beautiful post, Jessi! Continuing to pray for y'all to the God of POWER! :)

  3. Beautiful and powerful! Thanks for sharing. I'm continuing to pray for you guys.

  4. Wonderfully written, and humbling! Glory to God who makes night bird sing, who humbles the haughty and unites the humble.

  5. I second Erin's comment, albeit for selfish reasons... I needed to read that today.

    Still praying for you and J every day.

  6. This was a GREAT post. Wow. It hits home, too, as I do exactly what you described...downplaying the spiritual warfare of Christianity and focusing on physical aspects. I admire your strength, your dedication, and your willingness to not only change and learn, but also to be transparent and allow us to learn along with you, and through you. Thank you for becoming an important part of my life, and know that you are in my prayers and thoughts every day!!

  7. This is really interesting. Great applications to American life too. Just prayed for the tribe and your work there.