Earlier this year El Niño caused a drought across many regions of the South Pacific, including the land of the Aruamu people. The drought quickly dried up their springs and creeks causing family farms to stop growing. The people began scavenging for what they could in the jungle, and praying.
Pioneer Bible Translators, under the tireless work of Marsha Miles, was able to partner with Beyond Baptism and International Disaster Emergency Service to purchase rice for many of the Aruamu people. Recently I was able to visit an Aruamu village and see how things are going. The rains have returned and the gardens are producing double what they should. The people told me there were “yams twice as big as usual” and “taro the size of your head.”
Sitting with two Aruamu community leaders as they processed the drought months, I was caught off guard when they said, “You need to go back to school to learn to count!” I looked at them quizzically as one of them explained, “Every truck that came had more bales of rice than they should have. Didn’t you count them?”
The distribution of the rice was put into the hands of the Aruamu community leaders. We marked a day for each village to send a flatbed truck into town to pick up their rice, one bale for each family. I was at the distribution center to help coordinate and sign the check. As a new truck came in we would check the figures and load the truck accordingly. Numerous people counted to ensure accuracy.
When those trucks arrived home and the rice was distributed to the waiting families, each village ended up with more bales than we loaded, allowing the communities to give more rice to larger families. One village ended up with so much extra they were able to share with a neighboring village we didn’t target. As I heard this story I couldn’t help but think of Jesus feeding the 5,000. To hear that God miraculously multiplied rice I had loaded (after counting and recounting) onto a truck was overwhelming.
The Aruamu translation team is on course to finish their Old Testament for a dedication in 2020. As the Aruamu church reads for themselves the Great Commission and trains missionaries to send out, they will have a firsthand grasp of His power and mercy, how He moves for those He loves.
When I left, one of the church leaders came with me. As we drove through a nearby village he told me this particular village got more of the extra rice than any other. The people are still steeped in traditional beliefs and have not fully embraced Christ, and so the leaders of this village asked the Aruamu church leaders why God would give them rice too. They were told, “Because God hasn’t forgotten you either. He is calling to you and He has something bigger than rice for you.”
Praise God with us for His provision, His concern, His overwhelming love. Pray with us for the Aruamu people, as they seek to reach out to their neighbors sharing His love spilling over in their own lives, just as they shared the miraculous rice.