During 2010, the Ukarumpa center (where we live in Papua New Guinea) and neighboring village were under significant criminal activity—house break-ins and invasions on an almost nightly basis. Of course, it was a very stressful time for the local people and our colleagues alike, but God was at work nonetheless.
Over Easter 2011, one of the village pastors conducted an evangelistic crusade. As a result, the criminals wanted to apologize to the director of our organization in PNG. The village pastors recognized, however, that the young men would still need to make a public apology to all the people who were impacted by their former criminal activities. Praise God that public apology took place on July 2, 2011.
On that Saturday a number of our colleagues went to the neighboring village. The local pastors prayed and preached from God’s Word. The former criminals presented a drama that demonstrated how they had turned their lives over to Jesus, and they closed with a song that spoke of Jesus as being their only friend. Then each young man publicly apologized for his crimes and the hurt that he had caused. A few made a point to apologize directly to the owners of the houses they had broken into.
The village community then gave a tremendous gift of garden food—their traditional demonstration of love. It took two vehicles to bring the gift back to Ukarumpa center where it was presented to all our colleagues during the Sunday morning meeting.
The worship service that morning overflowed with testimonies of how God was at work in their own hearts! Some of our colleagues recognized and repented of their lack of faith and belief in how God works through prayer. Some commented on a lack of balance between justice and grace and forgiveness by the missionaries at the Ukarumpa center.
But as the director stated in his report of the recent events in PNG—”We are all on a journey” of spiritual growth—those serving in PNG, the Papua New Guineans themselves, and even those here at home who support the work of Bible translation through gifts, prayers and encouragement. Our prayer is that this story of revival in PNG will be an encouragement to you as you make that journey.
*Adapted story and photos taken from a report by Tim Lithgow, director of SIL-PNG. The pidgin term “tok sori” means repentance, or an apology—literally “talk sorry”.