Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In the Company of Greatness, Part 1

“I was unsure how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate – I was scared to death if you want the truth of it – and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s Power did it …” 1 Corinthians 2:3-4, The Message

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events ...” ~Robert Kennedy

“No one who has come to true greatness has not felt in some degree that his life belongs to the people, and what God has given them He gives it for mankind.” ~Phillips Brooks

He was quite unassuming, the man sitting next to me at dinner that night. Imposingly tall, yes, but the wrinkles on his face and the slow labor of his walk betrayed his increasing age. And because he was so soft-spoken, I was having trouble hearing him.

“I’m sorry. What did you say your name was?”

“Jim Parlier.”

I was in Port Moresby, spending the night at a missionary guesthouse en route to Buka. The heat was getting to me and I was sure I hadn’t heard right.

“His wife,” prompted my friend, “wrote the book, Poking Holes in the Darkness …

“Yes, of course. I’ve read it.”

More than once.

As we were planning to come to Papua New Guinea, this book opened my eyes to the lives of translators in the bush of PNG. People who sacrificed their lives not only to go to another country, but to go to another country and live among a distinctly primitive people with a completely different culture, all for the sake of bringing them God’s Word in the language that speaks to their hearts.

After nineteen years of living and working among the Managalasi, Jim and Jaki Parlier, along with their national co-translators, dedicated the Managalasi New Testament.

Other than when I was a kid in a candy store, I have not often felt like a kid in a candy store. But I did that night. Now, of course, if you know me very well, you’ll know that I was determined to be in total control of my face, vowing not to betray the enthusiasm that was welling up in the pit of my stomach. I was, in fact, hanging on his every word.

Oh my goodness! I’m in the presence of greatness!

“So, Jim,” I calmly began, “what are you and Jaki doing these days?”

We chatted for the better part of dinner, and I was no less intrigued by him when we finished than when he’d repeated his name for my benefit. In fact, I was even more certain that I was, in fact, in the presence of greatness.

Since completing their translation work in the 1980’s, they’ve returned several times to visit. On one such occasion, about ten years after their translation work was finished, they arrived to find that the several denominations in the area were fighting. Apparently they were disagreeing on various points of scripture, and criticizing those who thought differently. (Sound familiar?)

Jim was at a loss. For the next five years he prayed for God to show him what he could do to help the situation. Finally, in the darkness of early morning God awakened him with His answer.

Get them together and teach them.

Despite the obvious hindrances to such a gathering, within a couple years they had started a Bible school in the area. Before they could ever ask for money, people began offering it. Someone would call Jim up and ask what the need was, and as soon as he rattled off a figure, they were dropping a check in the mail. So certain is he that God alone is doing this work that Jim told the financial administrator of the school, “When we have to ask for money, we’re closing the school.”

They have now graduated three classes totaling about 120 people. However, there have been concerns about decreasing enrollment, so in January of this year, when they were opening registration for the next two-year course of study, Jim prayed with the leadership of the school that God would bring who He wanted to enroll. More than 100 people registered! Some staff expressed concerns about space and suggested they cap the registration numbers. No, said Jim. We prayed that God would send who He wanted to be here. This is His work, and He’ll make it work.

True. His work. His story.

His greatness.

1 comment :

  1. It's so cool to meet a hero...and, afterward, to actually still think they are a hero. I have been disappointed so many times, and I could name some names that EVERYBODY would know.
    I have never heard of this great man, but I am so glad to hear a bit of his story and to know he is really "real".
    Very cool.


We are missionaries serving God and the task of Bible translation by serving the missionary community in Papua New Guinea through Personnel Administration and MK Education. We thank you for your prayers!

For the Bibleless Peoples of the World ...

(Updated 13 April 2013)