As the crowd squeezed inside the two large tents Thursday night to avoid the drenching rain, they watched with eyes glued to the screen as Jesus was brought to life in the Jesus Film.
From the singing to the wrap up by Pastor Les, all was a bit difficult to hear over the pounding of the rain on the tents above and yet, in away, it caused them to lean in more than they might have otherwise.
What happy hearts we had as we walked to the field Friday evening in the sun and watched an episode of The Chosen along with a guest band from the Baptist church here in town which had everyone dancing with praise.
Godfrey, the MC held their attention with a story of a missionary boy growing up in the Sepik, learning the ways of the bush children he played with every day. Oh their delight when he revealed that he, Godfrey, was that boy. When he announced that his wife had just arrived from New Zealand, hundreds of children stood to their feet and waved their greetings to her as she sat by the sound booth.
Pastor Les had a powerful message bringing the children along with him as he spoke, grabbing their attention with stories and application to the scripture!
Each night on our veranda I fed about 50 staff / families over an hour and a half between the children’s program that ran from 3-5 and the main event that started at 6. I had lots of help, and thanks to the large 30 cup rice cooker Todd got me for our Wednesday night Singles Dinner/ Study, and large cooking pot that made it doable! Mandy, our Comms gal provided salads and sweet kai (cupcakes) for each evening – a huge blessing!
Our final night was Saturday, and we saved the movie End of the Spear for that night. All eyes glued to the screen, often as tears ran down their cheeks, gripped by the story. They seemed to connect with the tribal fighting and killing, and were deeply moved as they changed their ways. Their understanding of who MAF is and why so many from around the world would come to their country was furthered, as they recognized the people in the video were from the same organization – with the same mission and vision.
As I walked home carrying some stools we had used for various things, I asked some young men for help to cross the ditch that separated the field where the tents were from the road. They not only took the stools and helped me across but said they would carry them to my house for me. They excitedly said that next year, when we have the event again, they are going to invite more people and it would be bigger and better! They were so thankful for MAF for coming to PNG and for the Outreach Event. My heart and face were smiling as I listened to them and got their names and interacted with them on the short walk home.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and as Todd and I walked across the road from having Sunday lunch with one of our families, we noticed an agitated crowd gathering at the corner across from our compounds. This is typically not a good sign and we asked the guards if they knew what was going on. Ramson, a relief guard on our compound said that some young men from one settlement across from us had been in a fight the night before at the bar down the street and were planning to go and fight the men from the other settlement. But that the elders from their settlement had come and were trying to convince the young men that fighting was not the way to settle this.
We prayed that the elders would have the words to say and that the hearts of the young men would be open to listen and follow their instruction. As we crawled into bed later that night – we realized that there hadn’t been a fight! We were overjoyed and praised God for this small victory. And couldn’t help but think that perhaps the movie had impacted hearts more profoundly than we had anticipated.
We are in the midst of elections, some of our team members have already left the country for early home assignments, more are preparing to leave in the next few days. We have encouraged this for those due to return to their passport countries for home assignment, just because of the unrest that typically comes to this area around elections. However, the streets have been eerily quiet the last few nights. We are very thankful for this, and for the extra military patrols on the streets, making sure that things remain peaceful.
Your prayers are appreciated over the next couple of months as elections are prepared for, held, counted, contested etc…. May we be a light shining the love of Jesus in the midst of it all. May we have the ability to continue to serve the isolated peoples. Just today Todd was able to negotiate with a group of peaceful protesters that have shut down the airport to the commercial operators, but allowed MAF and one other small aircraft/helicopter operator to continue operations today. Please pray for wisdom for our leaders and for peace for those families who have opted to stay here through it all to continue to serve and show the love of Christ.