A call for peace: ‘retribution is in God’s hands’
By Deb Fox | Autumn 2021 Wycliffe Today
Matt and Andrea Torrens met as singles in Papua New Guinea, fell in love and developed a passion for Bible translation. He was from Australia, she was from Germany, but now PNG feels like home for their family. They have been involved in a variety of jobs over the years but their heart has always been to help language groups with Scripture Engagement projects, which is now their full-time work. When international lockdowns were announced in March 2020, they decided to stay in PNG rather than fly back to Germany or Australia.
The hardest part was seeing so many other families and friends leaving [PNG] en masse. But despite our concerns, God protected us and opened up some incredible opportunities.
One of these opportunities came about when Matt organised a Healing the Wounds of Trauma workshop for a local village in the Sepik region. The course had originally been designed to help people who have experienced horrific events like war, conflict, abuse and natural disasters to engage with the Bible ‘to find God’s healing for wounds of the heart’. Participants in the course were from two warring villages. A ceasefire had been in place but it had been broken. Many lives had been lost on both sides.
The future for the region looked grim. Yet, when the leaders heard what God’s Word says about his mercy and forgiveness, their hearts were transformed. Their eyes were opened to the call to ‘never pay back evil with more evil’ but to ‘do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone’. Romans 12:17-18 (NLT). Matt shares: ‘As they were taking their burdens to the cross, leaders from both sides stood up and said, “Now we know that retribution is in God’s hands”.’
Leaders from a local church involved in new ceasefire agreements have been trained in the Healing the Wounds of Trauma material, should any tensions arise in the future. The community also recognised that the healing between the tribes took place during the time that the new Prime Minister for PNG, James Marape, called for three weeks of prayer and fasting for the nation.
We all agreed that it was God’s timing that they were completing the workshop and were now able to reconcile as a community. After the reconciliation had taken place, there was also a brilliant rainbow stretched out across the two villages. It was like God was smiling on us, reminding us all of his mercy and faithfulness. It gives me so much joy being able to share about the freedom we have in Christ and see people grasp hold of his grace.
When we first started this journey, I didn’t think we would be where we are today. We are so thankful for everyone who prays and supports the work of Bible translation and enables us to be here. We are privileged to see firsthand how much God’s Word impacts people’s lives. So many people here have suffered incredible hardships and yet, because of our amazing God, we can bring them a message of hope, love and forgiveness.