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Passing the Baton to the Hewa Church

mountainous rainforest cloaked in fog and cloud

The Hewa of Papua New Guinea

Jonathan and Susan Kopf have been living with the Hewa tribal people in the rugged mountains of central Papua New Guinea since January of 2000. After studying the culture and language, they have devoted themselves to translating and teaching the Bible and assisting the Hewa in their struggle for survival in a changing world. By 2005, they had translated enough verses to start teaching an overview of the Bible and later that year the Hewa church was born.

Susan Kopf writing on a chalkboard in the clinic

‘Are They Ready?’

Now, almost 15 years later, Jonathan said, “In this later phase of our ministry, our focus is to effectively pass the various aspects of the leadership baton to the new elders and deacons [as they come into increased contact with the outside world]. Over the years we have been teaching leader trainees how to teach the Bible, how to teach school, how to operate a small medical clinic, how to [lead] worship with the guitar and how to drive a tractor and maintain an airfield.

“And now we are adding building construction and maintenance training, with solar electrical installation to power lights. We feel a need to pass on as much as possible in order to help the villagers thrive after our departure. As we have been ramping up our education efforts, we have found ourselves tired, but it is a good kind of tired as it has been a joy to teach eager learners.”

Jonathan Kopf teaching a group of Hewa people

Following in His Steps

Jonathan continued, “We feel the most pressing need is for us to continually encourage biblical shepherding skills for the new elders and deacons. They have been doing a tremendous job of teaching the Word, but they keep finding themselves overwhelmed by unbelievers who arrive from other villages [intending] to squelch biblical thought processes and to get the believers to return to harmful and self-destructive patterns. Please pray that the leaders will gain discernment and courage to fearlessly stand for Jesus principles and that the believers will develop the strength to follow in His steps.”

Note: Jonathan explained that they are about a year away from transitioning to a more itinerate ministry in a nearby town to continue with New Testament translation and be close enough to help. They will be out of the village, allowing the elders to oversee the church on their own. They are planning a departure that will hopefully help the church thrive after their departure.

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