Thursday, March 02, 2006
(The story of how the Lord led in the start of the work in the village of Kudukudu. This is Part I of a two part post.
When we first arrived in PNG, I had no intentions on starting a new work in my first term. My plan was language and cultural study, but, as is often the case, the Lord had other plans. Our first six months in country were very difficult and very challenging. Those challenges, I will let my wife write about in other posts. We did have a small group of Christians that helped us when we arrived in country. They were meeting in the village of Sohun. They were a huge blessing to us.
As language study progressed, I began teaching at this church in Sohun. The work was growing and we decided to build a “Sunday School House”. This “house” would be made of bush material. At this time I had been in country about 8 months, and this would my first experiance at building a bush house. While in the bush cutting down the trees for the Sunday school house, Bro James, the pastor of the work in Sohun, told me we need to get Kuni grass. He said this Kuni grass is in another village, and it is used to make the roof of the house. One week later, we traveled to this village; it was the village of Kudukudu. It was a very hot day, well over 100 degrees. I was working in an area with no shade, pulling this Kuni Grass out of the ground. This grass is very sharp, and it was cutting my hands. It seemed to me the villagers hands were immune to the razor sharp grass, but in reality they knew how to properly pull it out of the ground, where as I did not. They loved watching the white man pulling the grass out. They were surprised that a “white skin” was performing villager work. Normally, the white skins simply pay to have the manual labor accomplished. The heat was strong and I decided to take a break. A lapun (old man) came and sat down and a few others with me.
The lapun began to talk to me about the history of this village. As he did, the Lord began working on my heart. In years past, this was a cannibalistic village. When fighting with an enemy tribe, if they captured one of them they would eat him. Then the story turned even more interesting, as he told me how this was the village where the very first missionaries, who came to the island began their work. The missionaries were from the London Missionary Society, and arrived on the island in the late 1870’s. Those who came were Methodist; when they first arrived in the village, they had to leave quickly. The young men of the tribe wanted to eat the white men. This was the tribesmen’s first encounter with a white man. The missionaries fled to the Duke of York islands. The older men in the tribe convinced the younger men, that they needed to find out who these strange white people were, and that it would not be wise to eat them yet.
The missionaries made another attempt and were welcomed in. It was still dangerous, but they did introduce the gospel to the people. A few years later, a Methodist church was established. On the ground where I was sitting, they showed me the foundation pillars from the L.M.S. missionaries’ house. (In the above picture, you can see the foundational pillars from their house. In the pitcure, I am kneeling down and the men in the picture with me are from my home church. My daughter Rachel is to the side sitting on of the pillars.) At the time of the picture they were here in PNG helping me build a church building.) I was amazed. This Methodist church no longer exists in the village. At this time, the village had a United Church, SDA, and ALC. None of these preach the gospel, and all have a multitude of doctrinal errors. (This is true of almost every single village on the island.)
As I was being told the history of the village, my heart was burning for this village. The Lord was clearly working on my heart. However, for me to attempt to start a work in a village did not line up with my time table of how things were supposed to work. The Lord was working on my heart, but He forgot to check with me first. Did He not realize that my language skills were still lacking, and my cultural understanding was still poor at this time? I had only been in country for 8 months. I was thinking, “Now Lord?” The fact still remained, even though the Lord was working on my heart, I did not have an open door into the village to begin establishing a church. That however was about to change in an amazing way!
The rest of this story I will write on the next blog.
Posted by Terry McGovern