Today I am featuring the first half of my interview with the Papua New Guinea missionary Luke Aubrey. I had posted about him last week, and I hope you enjoy getting to know him better this week and next week, when I will wrap up my interview with him.
Grace Fabian: What is your favorite Bible verse?
Luke Aubrey: There are so many, but if I would have just one it would be Ephesians 2:4-5a “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”
If I had a second choice, it would be 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
GF: What words represent your heart?
GF: What is your ministry? Can you explain it for those who may never have been part of a mission?
LA: I serve with a ministry called S.A.L.T.. S.A.L.T. stands for Scripture Application and Leadership Training. On our S.A.L.T. team there are many Papua New Guinean missionaries, one Dutch woman and I. Our team partners together with Bible translation and local churches by running various Bible courses in languages that already have a completed Bible translation or are in the process of translating God’s Word into their own language. At the courses we teach basic Bible truths from scripture in ways designed to engage Papua New Guineans in a cultural way. It is a joy to see the excitement as young and old learn truths from God’s Word that they have never heard before. We use drama, group discussion, problem solving, song, activities, and cultural illustrations to connect with the participants. It is truly humbling to see God work and move in the hearts of people as they learn in their own language about Him and all that He has done for them. And as these people learn to apply God’s Word to their lives, it is also our desire to then encourage and equip them to share these truths with others. Through follow-up, discipling, and instructor courses, we seek to train church leaders, pastors, and others to minister from the Word in their language groups. S.A.L.T.’s vision is that 2 Timothy 2:2 would take place here in Papua New Guinea and that Christ’s church would be strengthened and built through the life transforming Word of God.
LA: At 20 I had a growing career in construction, lots of money in the bank, a new truck bought with cash, tons of tools, etc. and yet I was never quite fully satisfied with anything I achieved, obtained, or accomplished. I was in a race that Solomon refers to as a chasing after wind. (Ecc. 2:11) But by God’s grace He began to chip away at my heart, showing me that only when I had put Him first in my life and given Him the steering wheel would I find true joy. Verses like (1 John 2:15-17) had begun to convict me of where I was placing my focus, but it was not till I went on a short term missions trip to Peru that the Lord really shook me up. There I surrendered to God by saying “Here I am Lord, all aspects of my life, take it and make with it as You will.” 8 months later I was serving full time in PNG and I have never had a day here where Christ’s joy has not filled me to overflowing. I daily thank the Lord for hitting me on the head with a proverbial 2×4 and showing me what He created me in Christ Jesus for. (Ephesians 2:10)
GF: Share an embarrassing cross-cultural experience?
LA: Bathing in the village is always an interesting occasion. But one of my first nights bathing in a village was more than interesting. I was staying in a coastal village whose only bathing area was in a tidal river located at the end of a big sandy beach. Men washed on the left and women on the right and everybody wore their clothes into the water…in affect doing the laundry and taking a bath at the same time. They blended into the darkness while bathing, but my light skin literally glowed like “a white skin TV.” Well after several days of this, I decided that if I was going to be their entertainment, I might as well make it good. This time as I marched up to the river I asked one of my new friends how to say! “This water is awesome” in their mother tongue. With the phrase stored in my mental bank I then tore off running up the beach passing startled bathers and hurled myself spread eagle at the river while screaming “yoman bilak siben mok” at the top of my lungs. But what had been an attempt to perform a graceful belly flop into deep water ended up with me crashing down like a sack of potatoes in 6 inches of brackish water…face planted in the mucky river bottom. When I regained use of my lungs…I picked myself up and awkwardly shuffled farther up the river to where the water was deep…slipping quietly below the surface away from all the eyes I thought to myself, “this white skin TV show is done for tonight.” I have now learned my lesson about tidal rivers!