It is impossible to know at any given moment how our trials are affecting either us or those who surround us as witnesses of God’s handiwork in our lives. During the first several months that we lived in Uria Village back in 1997, things started going haywire. I had gone from being in the best shape of my adult life to almost no ability to function. I slept 12 to 16 hours a day, was sick all the time, and couldn’t think straight. Angela was pregnant with our daughter, having to care for two little boys (3 years and 18 months, respectively) as well as me. Her heart began to sink under the weight of it all.
240 of our closest neighbors were watching the drama unfold. As my health deteriorated and Angela’s soul began to anguish, our friends reached out to us. One evening, one of our closest friends warned us not to worry if we heard unusual noises near the house the next morning. As dawn broke we heard the sound of scores of shuffling feet and the murmurs of dozens of people. Every once in a while we’d hear the words “Papa God” (Father God) or “Bikpela” (Lord) float on the surface of the prayers. Around and around our house they marched, praying, asking God to intervene in our troubles. God had used our trials and tribulation to draw these people to prayer, to desperation for Him to do something extraordinary, to call upon Him for help. In reflection, we are very thankful that the Father would use our difficulties to grow the faith of those to whom we went. In the wake of those prayers came a diagnosis for me (hypothyroidism) and relief for Angela. During all the doctor visits, it was strongly suggested by the doctors that we give birth to our daughter in Australia. We went away for a few months and recovered, enjoyed the holidays, and welcomed our daughter into our family.
I’ve been wondering lately whether or not the season we are in is not also meant for the good of others. Even as some of the Somau Garia people responded to a call to pray for us in our most desperate hour, I think God is calling believers to encircle the challenge and trial of building a prayer and provision team, to come alongside in those days when resources are short and needs are big, when our energy is spent and more must take place before we can return to Papua New Guinea. I think God is calling believers to encircle the Somau Garia people in prayer, prayer for God’s protection and provision of the people who have both waited and worked for a few decades now toward the goal of getting the New Testament into their heart language. I think that God is calling believers to encircle the whole team that a history altering transformation might take place among the Somau Garia people, that their gifts and energies might be poured out so that Jesus’ name might be known across all of northern New Guinea, perhaps far beyond the borders of PNG to the uttermost parts.