by Delaina Johnson
On Saturday morning, June 29, I found myself in the back of a white pickup truck with about a dozen of my Papua New Guinean sisters, nieces and nephews, leaving town for a short “holiday” in the village of Baiteta. It had been just over two months since my friend Lindsey and I finished our five-week stay in Baiteta as part of the Pacific Orientation Course, and I decided it was time for me to go back and spend four restful days with my village family there and really solidify those relationships.
One family member whom I spent quite a bit of time with was my older cousin/brother Michael (in many cultures in PNG, cousins on your dad’s side are considered siblings, and the same vernacular word is used to refer to brothers and to cousins). When I lived in Baiteta for five weeks, I only met Michael once, so I mostly knew him as a name on the family kinship chart I had made as one of my village living assignments. Well, during this long weekend, I came to know Michael as my true brother in Christ as well as a very fun older cousin/brother. One night I was sitting on the floor of the haus kuk (kitchen) eating a late diner with my sister-in-law and all her kids, and Michael showed up with his spear gun, prepared to go hunting for some of the nocturnal marsupials that are so abundant in the jungles of PNG. Michael lives a several hour hike away, near his wife’s family, but he comes back to his own traditional family land to hunt.
The two of us were both surprised and happy to see each other again. Soon Michael was sharing his testimony with me of how God has been working in his and his wife’s lives recently. Their marriage had been characterized by a lot of tension, and the two of them were not on the same level spiritually. At one point they even divorced, but Michael decided to attempt to reconcile their marriage. He tried everything he could think of to change his wife’s perspective on spiritual issues and win her over to his side, but eventually he came to realize that only God is able to change people’s hearts. From that time on he poured his efforts into fasting and praying for his wife instead of trying to change her on his own. Earlier this year God answered his prayers, and now both he and his wife are seeking to follow God together. Michael asked me to pray for other family members who have not yet given their lives fully to Jesus.
We ended up sitting on the porch talking late into the night. Both of us were encouraged in our faith, and Michael’s planned hunting expedition was postponed to another time.
Delaina is a Bible translator.