By Kelsey Coker
It was 4:00 in the morning, and the only light that shone before me was the dim, fluorescent glow of my flashlight as we hiked through the jungle on our way to the village of Samu. This being my first time in Papua New Guinea, my feet were not well-accustomed to the muddy, root-covered terrain. Every step across the muddy soil and the tree log bridges was slow and measured. We hiked for two hours with seemingly no sign of light, but we emerged from the jungle just in time to catch the sun’s first appearance on the horizon.
As we approached Samu, we trekked across the dry soil and the gray, scorched remains of tree trunks that framed the village gardens. It was a place of new birth in the midst of cold, dark, death: tiny green leaves sprouted up in the midst of the desolation. As we crossed through the garden, our feet hurried their pace to catch up to the rhythm of the songs sung by what seemed like a choir of angels. The harmonies of hundreds of Papua New Guineans from dozens of villages filled the air, being lifted up as a fragrant offering before the Lord of heaven and earth.
When we got to the water’s edge, the sight was breathtaking. There before me stood hundreds of Papua New Guineans singing praises to God as their friends and relatives prepared to be baptized. A flower-adorned cross stood up above the water’s current beckoning for each to come and receive new life. Cries of “Oh, Papa!” pierced the morning air as the Spirit moved in the repentant hearts of the children of the King.
Jeffrie, a Papua New Guinean man from the village of Angguna, shared a message about the Great Commission and Jesus’ command to make disciples of every nation, baptizing them just as he was baptized by John in the Jordan. And, one by one, 34 Papua New Guineans followed his example and went down in the river, identifying with him in his death and being raised to new life.
With each baptism, I began to see that even the earth reflects the glory of the Lord every time He redeems one more child back to himself. I began to realize that I had already seen a glimpse what the morning was to hold before I ever reached the water’s edge—just as morning dawned in this small village of Papua New Guinea, the tiny leaves in the desolate garden spread wide open to receive the sun’s light, and new life took root in Samu.
Kelsey is a PBT recruit who recently made an exploratory trip to PNG.