Six-year-old Andrew wandered down the steps of his parents’ bamboo-and-thatch home in Papua New Guinea. The warm breeze pushed clouds across the blue sky of his mountain village. Andrew picked up a stick and swatted the wildflowers that grew in clusters surrounding his home.
“Andrew!” A voice called. Andrew whirled around and froze as he gazed at a man with a bright face and silver hair. The man seemed to float above the ground. And he had wings!
Andrew called out, “Papa! Papa! Come and see!”
Andrew’s father ran to where the boy stood. “Look over there, above the bushes!” Andrew said, pointing. Papa squinted, but he saw nothing. “It’s an angel,” Andrew said, his eyes wide with wonder.
“Andrew,” the angel’s voice called again. “Get dressed and go to church.” Andrew looked at his bare feet. When he looked up again, the angel was gone.
Papa went inside, and Andrew followed. He grabbed his clean shirt and pulled it over his head as he ran out the open doorway toward the Adventist church. Andrew slowed as he approached the little Adventist church. He had never been there before, but he was sure this was the church the angel meant when he had said, “Go to church.”
He entered the church and sat down on a wooden bench. Several families were singing praises to God. Something about being in that simple church touched him deeply, and he felt at home.
After the worship service Andrew hurried home. His father met him, a stern look on his face. “Where have you been?” he asked.
“I went to church, like the angel said,” Andrew answered, puzzled at his father’s anger.
“Do not go to that church again!” his father said, his words punctuated with a swat across Andrew’s back.
But the next Saturday Andrew remembered the bright-faced angel’s command. He slipped out of the house and ran up the muddy path to the little thatch church. He returned home to another stern lecture and a beating. What did I do wrong? he wondered, tears spilling down his face.
After Andrew’s third beating, he stopped attending the Adventist church and worked with his parents in the family’s garden. But he didn’t forget the angel’s command, “Go to church.”
Andrew’s village had no school. One day Andrew announced that he was leaving home to attend school. His parents allowed him to go. He walked for miles to another village where he could study. An Adventist family took him in. He tended their garden and went to church with them on Sabbath.
Andrew completed just two years of school before he had to stop studying. His adopted family helped him understand what it meant to follow Jesus.
Years passed, and Andrew grew to adulthood. He wanted to serve God, but he had so little education. One day a pastor visited Andrew. During their talk the pastor suggested that Andrew attend the lay workers’ Bible school.
Andrew hung his head. “I can’t,” he said. “I’ve had only two years of studies.” The pastor returned and again invited Andrew to study at the Bible school. After a third invitation, Andrew agreed to pray about it. As he prayed, he realized that God was indeed calling him to prepare to become a lay pastor. “Help me,” he begged God.
The next day Andrew met two strangers in the village. He offered them some simple food. After eating, Andrew asked them why they had come to his village. “We came to see you,” one man said. “God has called you to serve Him, and we will help you.”
Only after the men had gone on their way did Andrew realize that he hadn’t mentioned his plans to study at the Bible school or his prayer for God’s help. Surely God sent these men to encourage me, he thought.
The next day his sister brought Andrew an English Bible. Andrew couldn’t read English, but he knew that he would have to learn to succeed in school. He opened the Bible and stared at the letters that seemed more like a line of ants crawling across the page. But as he watched, he began to recognize words that he could understand! Andrew realized that God was preparing him to serve.
Andrew completed the Bible school program and now works as a lay pastor in a mountain village in Papua New Guinea. He loves to share how God has led in his life from the time he was a boy.
Thanks to our mission offerings over the years, the land of Papua New Guinea has proven fruitful. Almost 250,000 Adventist believers live and share their faith here.