The kids had been asleep for a few hours at the other end of our twenty-foot long house. Angela and I were drifting off to sleep, talking quietly, listening to the night sounds of the jungle surrounding our little house. Our dog’s intense barking broke the peace of the moment and signaled to us that something was up. “Brother Todd,” a voice called. Our neighbor was braving our 110 pound Rottweiler-German shepherd to get close enough to get our attention. “It must be serious,” I thought to myself.
“Send Angela, her friend is in trouble. We think she is in labor, but something is wrong. We need help.” Angela immediately leaped out of bed, threw on some clothes, grabbed her Maglite and headed out the door. I was close on her heels. A few moments later she gave me the news. “Maybe a breach, birth. I didn’t think she was due just yet.” We would discover that it was something more life-threatening than that. I instinctively looked toward the path out of the village. It had been raining a lot and the road was pretty saturated. “Lord, what do I do? Can you get the 4 x 4 out of the village? I need help!”
We jumped into action. I ran to the house, gathered myself and my things and began loading what I would need in our Nissan Patrol 4 x 4. Angela attended to her friend. Her friend’s relatives got themselves together. I backed the vehicle down close to their “camp”. Angela’s ailing friend, nine guys with knives, and me piled in and headed into the dark, forbidding jungle. Through the bog, onto the main track, through the creek, over the mountain. Sloppy, sloggy, digging new ruts. We were really tearing it up. By grace we made it out to the main road and were headed to the hospital in Madang. Even on the main road, we needed to use power to both axles as the main road is gravel, filled with ruts, potholes, sinkholes, landslides, even stretches where the road is simply what I would call a clay bog, if you can imagine. We made it into the hospital just in time. Our friend was hemorrhaging and needed emergency surgery to stop the bleeding. The baby wouldn’t come for another month!
This is perhaps more dramatic than many uses of our 4 x 4, but represents the importance of having the right gear to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a place where there are few resources (like decent roads, hospitals close by, or even electricity in rural areas). The 4 x 4 in Bible translation ministry, as we do it in Papua New Guinea, is a vital tool to help the helpless, get us to and from the village, and support the translation and literacy program in myriad ways. We are looking at options currently–what kind of 4 x 4 will meet the needs of the ministry that God has placed in our hands.