Between 2007 and 2018, Lourens and Marie Laureti worked among the Mengen people group. Along with their co-workers, they learned their language, developed and taught literacy, taught from Genesis to Christ to see the church born, and then taught and discipled the church through the New Testament, to where it is today. At the same time, they completed the New Testament translation, and saw the church reach out to two new locations. They also have national co-workers who joined the Mengen church to help in some of the locations.
While all the above was happening, a group of elders from different churches in the region noticed that even though there are many churches planted in different language groups, without missionary presence, there are still major needs for shepherding and discipleship, and that they are too dependent on missionaries and NTM for help. Furthermore, there was not much fellowship and unity amongst these churches.
Together with church leaders in New Britain and New Ireland, Lourens started to look at what the Bible teaches about the church and began to visit all the churches in New Britain, showing the believers that God’s Word shows how the church is one, with one Father and having one goal to be as holy as He is. Over a period of three years, this team has grown larger with representatives coming from most churches planted in New Britain.
Lourens’ role as church planter has now shifted into being a co-worker together with the believers and leaders from the Mengen church and the other churches planted in language groups in the islands region. Now that all the churches have a common goal and want to work together in growing towards maturity, they can start addressing needs.
It will not be NTM addressing these needs, or missionaries, but the elders and churches. As they look to the Lord, and as they are in fellowship with each other, they will draw from the gifts that God has given His church. The leaders have identified three areas of need; spiritual, ministry and practical.
Many churches feel they are not equipped to address the needs themselves. Therefore, there is now a national leadership team, which is working in close fellowship with the churches in finding ways to address these needs.
A large team recently travelled for two weeks encouraging the churches on what God’s goal is for them; image bearers of God, united in one body and working together to see His kingdom come. Altogether, they had 35 teaching sessions, not including meetings with leadership, in each church.
Information from a weeklong workshop on studying God’s Word and developing teaching material, will now be compiled by the leadership team to help churches develop teaching material rather than depend on lessons provided by missionaries.
A course on Biblical leadership is being developed. This course will be a study from God’s Word, on how leaders are identified, trained and commissioned and the work of elders and deacons.
Pray for wisdom regarding having core leaders to focus on the task of travelling between churches, to help evaluate and assist and to help develop and present the workshops. Also for additional training for national missionaries that are sent out from their churches into other language groups. Pray for, the leadership team who are working on developing some modules that would assist these families. They hope to teach these modules to a couple of families next year.