We are taking the opportunity of a rest from blogging by handing the responsibility to a guest. Keith’s father, Ross, is visiting PNG with a long-term family friend, John Greensill, and has a story to tell of just one aspect of their ten-day visit.
On a Thursday morning we (Keith, Ross and John) headed south from Lae on a 150km trip to Wau (pronounced ‘wow’), travelling through Mumeng, where there are large washouts across the road with rocks and boulders left by heavy flood rains; Zenag, the centre of the region’s egg and chicken production; and Bulolo, the largest population in the area with crowds out on the streets amongst colourful market displays.
Wau is situated 3,500 feet atop the Bulolo Range and boasts amazing views. We were told it had been recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the most liveable climate on earth. We can attest to that!
We stayed the night with Luther and Martha Smith, Independent Baptist missionaries from the United States who came to PNG in 1980, and met Kenny and Kalie Keck and their two lovely children over dinner.
The next morning we were privileged to join in devotions at the Baptist school and meet the students and staff. Luther then took us to the Bible college where Kenny was leading a Romans study group of seven second-year students, including a couple with a very small child. It was moving to see the smiling, happy students eager to learn God’s word in Tok Pisin.
We then visited an amazing lady, Donna Harvey-Hall, who operates an orphanage for unwanted children. Over coffee we learnt that this Aussie provides accommodation and preparatory classes for over twenty boys and girls, then met some of the children and saw their rooms. Donna’s historic home was the only one left standing after a Japanese offensive was repelled in 1943, with a memorial marking the event just a few hundred metres down the road.
Both John and I have been amazed by the dedication of all the people from various countries, many labouring for twenty, thirty, or forty years at translation, teaching and preaching, serving both young and old. It is humbling to see the joy on the faces of PNG nationals who have been brought to faith essentially through these ministries, and now serve alongside their new found brothers and sisters in Christ. It is difficult for most of us to imagine what it means to have the opportunity to read the Bible in their language for the first time in generations.
I will never forget these first experiences of PNG. I read this morning a phrase from Andrew Murray – “Unknown is unloved”. Now I know, in some sense, PNG and its people.