By Brian Paris
We met Patrick during our recent survey of the Anem and Amara languages in West New Britain Province. He lives in Mosiliki, an Anem speaking village, though he actually grew up nearby in Karaiai. When he was still young, he left his home to go to school in Kimbe, the nearest town. After finishing school, he went on to become an assistant to the Australian police chief in Kimbe. When Papua New Guinea gained independence in 1975, Patrick was in a position to be one of the leaders of the new police force. He worked as an officer for 20 years, before finally returning to the Anem area and retiring in Mosiliki.
One of the first things we learned about the Anem people is their high regard for knowledge. Knowledge is viewed as a medium of power, and as such is coveted. During several long conversations, Patrick expressed a desire for us to connect him with ways to gain medical knowledge and pedagogical knowledge. Despite our first impression, we found that his drive to learn did not come from a heart seeking power. It came from a discontentment that resides deep inside of him. The only relief he believes he can get is through more knowledge.
When Brian asked Patrick about his faith, he immediately asserted that he was a Christian. However, as Brian shared his own faith with Patrick, he realized that Patrick does not really know Jesus. That is the knowledge he is seeking and not finding; the source of his discontentment. It is sometimes frustrating to be a surveyor and faced with situations that we feel so helpless in. There were so many truths we wanted to share with Patrick about the Christ we know, but without an established relationship our words fall on deaf ears. This experience brought home for us the importance of dedicated missionaries going and living with people who do not know the gospel. Please pray for Patrick and pray for all the missionaries you know working wherever they are and doing whatever they do, so people like Patrick can see Jesus.
Brian and Hannah Paris are sociolinguistic surveyors serving an internship with SIL.