13th Sabbath | March 30

Thirteenth Sabbath Program

Congregational Song 
“Sound the Battle Cry” 
The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, no. 614

Superintendent or Sabbath School teacher


“Mission in the Clouds”

While the offering is being taken, ask the children to sing “Jesus Loves Me” in pidgin.

Closing Song
While the offering is being taken, ask the children to sing “Jesus Loves Me” in pidgin.

Closing Prayer

Participants and Props: 

Participants: A narrator and one or more persons to tell the story of Len and Mavis Barnard. [Note: participants do not need to memorize their parts, but they should be familiar enough with the material that they do not have to read everything from the script. Practice so that participants can feel comfortable adding inflection where appropriate.] 

Props: A large map of the South Pacific Division. [Scan the map on the back page of the quarterly and project it onto a screen, or draw a map on a large piece of paper.]


Narrator: The South Pacific Division is made up of Australia and several island nations. While most of the 423,000 members live in the island nations that are scattered across the South Pacific, most of the financial resources lie in Australia and New Zealand, where members are far fewer. 

In fact, Papua New Guinea accounts for more than half of the believers in the South Pacific Division. Yet the majority of Adventist believers live in rural or even isolated villages scattered across the mountainous terrain. Many survive by raising gardens on the steep mountainsides near their traditional village homes. Some areas are so isolated that the people live much as they have for thousands of years. Only recently has cannibalism been wiped out in the most isolated areas of the country. 

Entire villages are changed when they have a chance to hear God’s message of love. But reaching them has been an ongoing struggle to push back the darkness and claim lives for Jesus Christ. 


Len Barnard stood outside the small bush hospital on the coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG), a rugged and mostly untamed island nation north of Australia. [Locate Papua New Guinea on the map.] Here and there dark patches on the mountainside marked villages that could be reached only by hiking for days on dangerous trails. Someday I’ll visit those villages, he thought. 

A plane flew overhead and landed at the air base nearby. Someday I’ll fly over those mountaintops for God, he added. Len, a trained army medic, loved the native people and yearned to help them. 

God Will Make a Way

When the war ended, Len applied for mission service. But the church had no money for more missionaries. Disappointed, Len and his wife, Mavis, prayed for God’s will. They found it in an invitation to work for a government hospital in PNG.  “Before I go,” Len announced, “I’m going to learn to fly!” And he did. He had no plane, but he was sure God would provide. 

The young family arrived at their new post in northern PNG. “Lots of lepers here,” the hospital administrator said. “Learn all you can about leprosy before you take up your post.” Len spent weeks watching doctors treat leprosy, asking questions, and learning how to amputate limbs. Meanwhile Mavis learned to cope with the heat and lack of comforts she had known back home. 

Mission Post

A year later the mission president invited the couple to start a leper colony in the highlands. They rejoiced that at last they could be missionaries! But they were not prepared for what being a missionary really meant.

The couple flew to the highlands, boarded a crowded jeep, and bounced to the end of the rutted road. Several New Guinean porters carried their luggage up a muddy path. Two hours later, tired and breathless, they arrived at the site for the new leprosy colony. The government official pointed to a grass-roofed hut. “That’s your house,” he said. “It’s only temporary,” he added, seeing Mavis’ tear-filled eyes. 

Five weeks later, while mission officials were visiting to lay plans, Len was awakened from sleep by a crackling noise. “Fire!” he shouted, dashing into the larger room to awaken the mission leaders. They ran outside seconds before the house was engulfed in flames. The Barnards had lost everything but their lives. 

So many people came to be treated that the mission added two nurses and a doctor to the staff. 

 “If only I could get out into the villages and treat people before their disease advances so far,” Len told Mavis. “I must reach them.” The villages Len spoke of were still steeped in cannibalism. “If only we had a plane,” Len told one church administrator. We could build air strips and reach these people in hours instead of weeks.”

“Too expensive,” the official responded. “Perhaps someday.”

God’s Mission Plane

Len and his porters hiked for days over rugged, dangerous terrain, treating people who needed medical care and preaching the gospel. If only we had a plane, Len thought. But it would take 18 years before Len flew the mission’s first plane to PNG. 

The mission plane carried workers to new fields, ferried mission officials to meetings, and rescued the injured and the sick in hours rather than days. When new regions opened, Len urged the believers to build a church and an airstrip. Len Barnard flew through impossible weather and landed on tiny grass airstrips.  

Then tragedy struck. As Len checked the cylinders on the propeller, the engine suddenly fired, spinning the propeller and knocking Len to the ground, his left leg nearly severed.  

One passenger compressed the wound until an ambulance arrived. The crew lifted Len into the ambulance and sped to the hospital where doctors examined him. 

 “We’ll have to amputate,” the doctor said. 

“Try to save my leg!” Len begged. “I’m a missionary pilot.”

“There’s no chance,” the doctors said as they wheeled him into surgery. 

Len awoke following surgery with his leg in a cast. Doctors still didn’t think his leg could be saved, but Len recovered from the accident, and eight months later he returned to his work in PNG. He visited every mission outpost, thrilled to see native workers only a generation from heathenism working faithfully for Christ. He pioneered more airstrips and stretched the mission’s horizon across the vast mountain jungles of PNG. 

After 25 years in PNG, Len and Mavis reluctantly turned their work over to younger pilots and ministers. 

Battling the Darkness

The work that the Barnards pioneered represents the same mission spirit that powers the work in Papua New Guinea today. This quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering reflects the passion to bring Christ and His Word to unreached people. 

Len Barnard had a vision to use a plane to reach the uttermost parts of PNG. Today the mission has two planes, one of which our Thirteenth Sabbath Offering helped provide.  

Len’s vision was to reach the people through the medical work. Today’s offering will help establish at least four medical clinics in the most isolated regions of PNG. He wanted to teach God’s Word to people who had never heard. Part of today’s offering will provide solar-powered MP3 players (“God pods”) to continue bringing God’s plan of salvation in remote villages.

Our children’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help provide 15,000 Bibles for children. Many adults still cannot read or write. They rely on their children to read God’s Word to them. Entire families can be strengthened in Christ through a single Bible. 

Let’s continue to battle against spiritual darkness. Let’s give a sacrificial offering so that thousands in the South Pacific can hear that God loves them and wants them to prepare to live with Him forever.


Adapted with permission from Wings Over New Guinea, written by Goldie M. Down and published by Pacific Press Publishing Association. 


Future Thirteenth Sabbath Projects 

Next quarter the East-Central Africa Division will feature special projects including a medical clinic in southern Tanzania, an elementary school in western Kenya, an administration building at Lukanga Adventist University in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and an evangelistic center/training school in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

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