During December we’re focusing on learning to disciple. Please see the Prayer page to read our strategic prayer request for this month.
In 2012 I traveled to Papua New Guinea for the first time. The following is a remembering of that time.
We sit around the fire with our new friends. Pete, Ann, and I, the flames make our white skin glow. Joshua* told us about his village which lies deeper in the jungle, further up the incline; it’s an 8-10 hour hike away. He tells us of hardships which we cannot fully understand.
I study his face, but try not to meet his eye too often. He’s handsome and his smile is pleasant. He converses with his companions in Pidgin and then catches us up on what they’re discussing. His English is very good and he talks to us of their need for a road into their village and equipment that would make their lives much easier. He wants the government to respond to these needs. He asks for Pete’s advice; I already know where this is going.
Pete asks him if he’s a Christian and he responds by telling us he is a non-practicing Catholic. Pete speaks truth to him: “The best thing you can do for your people is pray and give your life over to Jesus.”
Joshua’s believing sister and brother-in-law nod their heads, they’ve likely said all this before. He looks at us a little suspiciously, but there’s no conspiring going on here, just truth.
I can’t shake the stirring within my gut; the feeling that he is a man of peace. If only he would give himself fully over to Jesus, his influence could be greater than what he can imagine. I lean over to Pete, at this point I’m not sure if it’s culturally appropriate to address him directly. I ask him to convey this to Joshua. I watch his face again as Pete shares. He drinks the words in, processing them silently; we all sense that he has taken to heart what’s been said.
We eventually say our goodnights that night and I lay down in the jungle for my second night ever in a village house. After my eyes adjust to the darkness, I stare up at my mosquito net, replaying the events of the evening over again in my head. “This jungle has a face. And its ears need to hear about Jesus.”
This is why I brought my family back to Papua New Guinea. Because it has a face, or faces rather. And there are people just like Joshua with untapped wells deep, deep inside of them. And there are needs and complex problems that require complex solutions.
But it all boils down to this: they are radically loved by God and He is the answer. And they need to know this. They need discipleship and relationship. They need people to invest in them and we need God to show us the best way to do that.
As missionaries we don’t have all the answers, but we have some of them and the rest we have to trust God with. We have to believe that He will meet us where we fall short.
After this trip, a friend asked me what my most impacting experience was. This event immediately came to my mind. It’s something to hold on to- a reminder of one of the reasons why we’re doing what we’re doing. Because when you put a face on something, once it has a heartbeat, there’s no going back.
Erin and her family are resting and serving stateside. They will return to their roles in PNG January 2015.