Dear God, Are you still here?
I am a missionary living in Papua New Guinea. Yesterday, when my Bible translation helpers came to work with me, I asked them how they were doing. Ellen said, “We’re doing fine but yesterday a big heavy (problem or burden) came up with the believers.” I said to Ellen, “Tell me what happened,” and she related this story to me.
A group of the believers were headed out to one of their gardens in order to collect pandanus nuts, a delicious nut that is only in season at certain times of the year. In order to get to the garden, they had to cross a pole bridge over the river. Our rivers here are not the kind that you swim in except in certain safe locations. The river is full of waterfalls and huge boulders and the current is swift and dangerous.
On this day not only was the river high, but the bridge was over a place where two boulders were close together which constricted the water making the current extra powerful there. As they were crossing, some of the men observed that it was difficult for those carrying burdens to cross without anything to hold on to so they got some poles in order to construct a handrail.
As they were working, Pita was holding onto one of the poles and the current was so strong that it jerked on the pole and threw Pita into the water, pulling him down into a pool below. At first, some of the believers didn’t see him fall but those who did cried out. They waited to see him surface but although Pita, a very strong man, struggled and struggled, the force of the water plunging down kept him pinned to the bottom.
He tried to surface three times and each time the current pulled him back down. He said it was like being wrapped in a wet blanket. The believers, seeing that he wasn’t surfacing, began weeping and crying out to God. “Oh God, please help him!” Pita’s strength was gone. He said that he managed to get his hands above the water to wave and say good-bye to his family and friends. He thought, “I’m going to die but that’s okay. I am ready.”
Those on the banks of the river saw him wave and in grief, one man wanted to jump in to try and save him but the rest held him back in order to prevent an additional death. Then they all say that something amazing happened.
God unexplainably brought Pita to the edge of the river. He says, “I was like a butterfly and I flew out of the water.” As the believers fished him out of the water, they were weeping and praising God. They had believed that Pita was dead, but now he was alive.
One man said that Pita was like Jonah in the belly of the whale, but God rescued him. That night they couldn’t sleep. They ate together and thanked God and sang songs. Some of the believers slept next to Pita that night because they said that the incident was playing over and over in their minds like a video and they just wanted to be close to Pita and to thank God that he is alive.
Like Ephesians 2: 8-10 says, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this: it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. he has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” What other reason do we need to praise His holy name!
Lori, Papua New Guinea