Two weeks ago I held a national pastors meeting for the preachers on the island. There are four national pastors on the island, only one of whom is actually an ordained pastor. I wanted to assemble these men, as well as Bro. Terry Thrun, to try and encourage them. (Bro. Thrun is the Baptist missionary in Kavieng. Kavieng is the only town on the island and is about five hours away from Namatanai, where I live. He is the only other Baptist missionary on the island.)
On Tuesday afternoon of the meeting, I arranged for a dingy to take us all fishing. Now, fishing here is not done with poles. Obviously, the people in the villages do not use fishing poles. They simply use fishing line and a hook, which is readily available on the island. You can also purchase “spools” to put the line on for fishing. I purchased two spools for the trip. (I have a fishing pole, but did not bring it for the trip. My fishing pole does not have strong enough line on it for the tuna and other fish abundant in our waters.)
The “spools” do not at all assist one in pulling the fish in. They simply help you keep your fishing line somewhat organized. When you hook into a fish, you have to pull it in by hand. Yes, I said by hand. Yes, I have seen the line cut right into their hands! On many of the men’s hands, you can see the scars from fishing.
On this trip the Lord really blessed! We just pulled out and not five minutes later we came across hundreds of tuna. Now, fresh tuna is excellent eating, so we were all very happy. There really is not a lot of skill involved when there is hundreds of tuna in the water. Although, there was one funny incident. I was using two lures, which I had purchased on another island a month before. I spent about $20 on each lure. They were working, but not working great. The national pastors with me, two of whom were seasoned fisherman, explained to me buying a squid lure would be best. They then told me they could make one at no cost! They simply took a white plastic bag, which I had with me, and tore it up. They then put the bag on the hook and trolled. It worked great. The tuna were biting the bag like crazy! Here I spent $40 on lures and they made a squid lure out of a plastic bag and it was ten times better than my expensive lures!
On the fifth tuna we hooked into, we realized we were not the only ones who wanted to catch it! Bro. Naaman hooked into this tuna and was pulling the line in to bring it into the boat. We stopped the boat, while he was pulling the line in. Everything was going fine. I was standing next to him waiting to get a look at the tuna. (By the way, our dingy is not all that big.) Naaman just about had the tuna in the boat, and he was at the point of picking it up out of the water and putting in the boat. As he reached down a shark jumped out of the water from behind the tuna, trying to eat the tuna. Everyone on the boat jumped back and you heard one big oooohhhhhhh, from everyone on the boat. The shark thrashed around on the surface for several seconds. I was standing there in awe and disbelief over what I was looking at. It was just like some shark documentary you might see on TV. Namaan actually won the battle for the tuna and threw it on the boat. Then the shark disappeared as quickly as he appeared.
The shark was probably 7 to 10 feet in length, although at the time it seemed like 20 foot! It was the first encounter I have ever had with a shark of this size without being in an aquarium! After seeing the shark, I suddenly lost all desire to ever go swimming in the ocean again. We were not a quarter mile from the shore! It was a great experience though. It gave all of us awe over God’s creation, which is exactly why I think the Lord allowed us to see it. It also reminds us to be on guard at all times with our life and service to God. We are not the only ones trying to “catch men.” We need to be diligent in the work of the Lord, avoiding the snares of the devil!