From a Hut to a Mansion!
(This is the story of a friend of mine named Rusawe. He is now with the Lord.)
One Sunday after services, Bro James asked me to go and visit with a man (Rusawe) who had not been in church at Sohun for quite some time. I had seen Rusawe before, once or twice, but that was all. James told me he used to always come to church, but he had not seen him for several months. I told James of course we can go and see him, and so we went to see him. As we walked up to his hut, he saw us and began to cry. At this point, I did not know what to think. We sat down with him and he told us he had been very sick. He said he just ran out of medication and needed help in getting some more from our “haus sik”. I told him I would come back the next day and take him to get medications. His house is about a 45 minute drive for my house. All together to pick him up and take him to the haus sik and back home is almost 4 hours of driving time on rough road.
As I took Rusawe to the haus sik, we talked. He had a strong desire for his children to know the Lord. Not one of his six children were saved, all of whom are adults. I told him I would come and talk with his children. I enjoyed his company as we traveled to the haus sik. Once we arrived at the haus sik, I asked one of the nurses what was wrong with him. I did ask Rusawe, but he did not know. He simply knew his symptoms and that the drugs helped with those. The nurse told me he has liver failure. This can be a common problem from taking years of malaria medication. By the way, there is no doctor at this haus sik. The nurse told me he needed to get new medication every week. I agreed to take him every Wednesday morning to get his medicine.
During the Wednesday morning drives, Rusawe and I became close. Every Wednesday he would have a stack of bananas or something else for me, to show his appreciation for helping him. Each week when we arrived in Namatanai, he would always buy me a Coke. He would not let me buy him one, but he always insisted that I let him by me a Coke. Keep in mind, the price of that Coke, to him, would be more than a day’s wages.
One Saturday I decided to go by and visit Rusawe. I was hoping some of his children would be there and I could talk with them. When I arrived, however, none of them were there. While talking with Rusawe, I realized that I had never heard his personal testimony of salvation. I was tired though and had thoughts of just going home after a few minutes of small talk. As I stood to leave, I was STRONGLY impressed to ask him his testimony. I sat back down and told Rusawe how I had never once heard his testimony of when he trusted Christ. I asked if he would tell me of that time. He then began to tell me of his faithfulness to church and belief in God. He told how he has tried to live a good life and follow Jesus Christ. I was shocked at what I was hearing. Before this day I never once even questioned whether Rusawe was saved. I always assumed he was. When he finished I told him I wanted to show him some things from Scripture. I presented the gospel, and showed how salvation is in Christ alone. I showed how he must repent and put his faith solely in Jesus Christ for salvation. Then with tears running down his face Rusawe put his trust in Jesus Christ for salvation instead of his actions. I wish all of you could have seen face as I gave him the gospel. It was if someone turned on the lights for him. I left that day rejoicing. Oh how close I was to not asking him his testimony! We need to be ever sensitive to the leading of the Spirit in our life.
The next day, after church, I traveled to visit with Rusawe again and rejoice with more about his salvation in Christ. When I walked up to his hut, I greeted his wife and her countenance was sad. I saw Rusawe lying down awake, but he did not respond to my presence. His wife told me, “tingting bilong em i pol olgeta.” Translation, he has lost his mind. I tried to talk with him, but he was not able to think coherently. I told his wife I want to take him to the haus sik and they told me no. They said he needed to stay where he was. Soon he will die. My thoughts immediately went to the day before when Rusawe trusted Christ. I think of how close I was to leaving and not asking him his testimony. I think of the Lord’s mercy, in giving him clear thinking all the way up until the time he accepted Jesus Christ.
Three days later, men showed up at my house and told me Rusawe has died, and to please come to the village. My emotions were mixed. I was sad to see him go, but rejoiced to know he was with the Lord. To think this man, who never left Papua New Guinea, who never knew a life outside of village life, was now walking on streets of gold. To know he left his hut, the only type of home he ever knew, to receive a mansion in glory. WOW! As I arrived in the village multitudes from the village were there with his body. There is no morgue here. There is no funeral director, or mortician. The family simply takes care of everything themselves. The people build a casket out of bush material, and dig a grave.
Before the body was placed in the grave I held a service, which is normal here. I was able to preach to around 500 people, including all of Rusawe’s children. I gave Rusawe’s testimony and preached the gospel. After the preaching it was time to put Rusawe’s body in the grave. As they placed the casket in the grave, the wailing began. One of Rusawe's sons (Tulsin) threw himself down and I pick him up. He was just wailing. Tears began to go down my face as well from the grief that is present. The wailing went on for quite some time, and then it eased, bit by bit.
In the following weeks, two daughters and one son of Rusawe made professions of faith. The one son, Tulsin, is very faithful still. He has a strong desire for the Lord. I look forward to reuniting with Rusawe in heaven!
John 16:13, Acts 10:19,20