By Rhonda Hayward
The Tay people, who have been “family” to us for more than two decades, are semi-nomadic folk. Traditionally they did not live in villages; village living was instituted by the government, which found it easier to take censuses and organize work parties when people were not scattered through the jungle! Tay-land is covered with amazingly rugged mountains cloaked with dense rain forest. After hiking a few times to their gardens and back, I understood perfectly why they found it much easier to live in their garden house rather than make the rigorous “commute” to and from the village!
The New Testament Christians also knew what it meant to be nomads. In 1 Peter 1:1, the apostle Peter greets believers who were “God’s elect, strangers (aliens, foreigners) in the world”. Peter’s letter to them is full of encouragement to persevere despite suffering “grief in all kinds of trials”. Peter points them to their wondrous inheritance kept in heaven—an inheritance that can never “perish, spoil, or fade”.
I think we missionaries, perhaps better than many, feel the truth of being a “stranger and alien” in this world. No matter how long I live in Papua New Guinea (PNG), I will never totally understand the PNG culture or feel totally “at home” there. And yet, after living overseas so long, I find it hard to feel totally “at home” in the U.S., especially when only living there occasionally on furloughs. However, this “alienship” also carries with it a poignantly sweet blessing: it creates a “holy homesickness” for my true Home. It also creates a deeper “lovesickness” for Him who knew what it meant to be a stranger and alien, for love of me. When I feel oh so weary and travel worn, I find great solace at the thought that He is preparing a place for me and soon will come to sweep me up to that glorious Home. A home I have not seen with my physical eyes, but where for the first time ever, I will truly feel “at Home”. Until that day, join me in praying and sharing and inviting others to join us There. Daddy’s House has plenty of room!
Steve and Rhonda are missionaries bringing the Word of God to the Tay people group.