Wama and Siong jostled against each other as the bus splashed through shallow rivers, bounced over rocky roads, and slogged through muddy sandbars toward the village at the end of the road.
Wama and Siong had left this village filled with hopes for their future. Siong had found work with a mining company, and the family enjoyed their new life. While living in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, the couple had accepted Jesus into their lives and found greater joy than they had ever known. Now they were returning with heavy hearts, for the vehicle that carried them also carried the coffin of their daughter.
Word had reached the villagers of the girl’s death, and the villagers knew that Wama and Siong would bring their daughter home to be buried. Villagers gathered around the vehicle as it entered the village. Wama noted that the village hadn’t changed much in the years they had been gone.
After the funeral the family visited their relatives and friends. They shared stories of their home in the highlands. One night as Wama and Siong lay on their sleeping mat listening to the crickets sing, she said softly, “I want to stay here and tell the people what we’ve learned about God. I want our sorrow to become a cause for joy.”
Siong had the same thought. “That’s good. I’ll come back every chance I get, and as soon as I can, I’ll join you. We can reach this village together.” So Wama and the couple’s 12-year-old son, Gary, remained in the village while Siong returned to work.
Wama and Siong had left their home village to live in the highlands of Papua New Guinea several years earlier. They had known nothing about Adventists until some friendly Adventists invited the couple to attend evangelistic meetings. There they had learned what it meant to be a true follower of Christ, and they’d joined the Adventist Church. Wherever they lived they had found Adventists, but no Adventists lived in their home village. They promised God that they would share their faith in their home village and help people find a deeper understanding of God’s love through Christ.
Most of the villagers call themselves Christians, but few have a personal relationship with Christ. People noticed the couple’s devotion to God. They heard the family singing hymns in their wood-and-thatch home. Some began asking questions, and Wama invited them to join her and her son as they worshipped God on Sabbath. And several people come.
Gary began leading the children, telling them Bible stories and teaching them songs about Jesus. He started a children’s choir that is drawing a lot of interest, and he invited his school friends to worship.
The couple met Gebob [GEH-bob], a teacher in the nearby city who was born in the village. After he became an Adventist he returned often to the village to share God’s love. After ADRA installed a water supply system in the village, the people realized that Adventists really care about them, and they willingly listen.
Darren, a youth leader in one of the large churches in the city, asked village leaders for permission to bring a team of teens to the village to hold seminars on health and family issues. On the day the youth were to arrive, heavy rains had flooded the riverbeds. Their vehicles couldn’t cross the river, so the teens, determined to reach the village, fought their way across the river and walked to the village. They arrived exhausted to find the villagers waiting to listen.
The teens held several seminars that weekend on health and social issues; they included many of God’s promises in their presentations. No one could remember meetings so well attended or gratefully received. During the farewell some villagers cried, for this was the first time outsiders had shown such care for them.
The villagers pleaded for a medical clinic in their village. They explained that they had to walk hours to reach the nearest medical clinic. Without a clinic, the village doesn’t receive government medical supplies to treat their most urgent illnesses and injuries.
Plans are under way to build a clinic in this village that will serve several thousand people in the surrounding area as well. It will be staffed by Adventist nurses who will help spread God’s messages of love and healing to thousands who’ve not yet heard.
Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will bring medical care to people throughout the islands of the South Pacific. Thank you.