Tuesday, August 14, 2012

From Sorrow to Thanksgiving

Bridge HalversonThe center where we live actually gets its name from neighboring Ukarumpa Village.  The center and the village are separated by the Ba’e River but precariously linked by this bridge—or what’s left of it anyway.  Despite its dilapidated appearance, it is still used quite heavily by the local people commuting to work on the center.  I experienced the “thrill” of crossing it for the first, second, third and fourth time on Sunday when Ukarumpa Village celebrated Thanksgiving.

The American Thanksgiving celebration find its roots in suffering and God’s provision.  This PNG version is no different.  In August 2009, most of Ukarumpa village was burned to the ground in the midst of clan conflict.  Crops and homes were destroyed.  Four people lost their lives and the rest of the inhabitants fled for their lives.

It’s difficult for me to imagine the anguish and despair our neighbors must have faced in the aftermath of such destruction.  In this part of the country, a clan would normally retaliate with like violence on their enemy, and the feuding would probably go on for decades.  The local pastors, however, have encouraged the people to find reasons to thank God.  They thank God that more lives were not lost, and that God provided for the survivors via neighbors and friends.  And now on the anniversary of the tragedy, they hold a Thanksgiving service and feast.

This year all the residents of Ukarumpa center were invited to participate.  So on Sunday morning we gathered together to thank and praise the God who graciously provides for all of His children.  We shared messages of encouragement, gifts of song and the abundance of kitchens and gardens alike.  Not even the drizzling rain could dampen our spirits.  What a blessing to get a taste of that day when we will stand before the throne hearing that loud voice say,

“Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”  (Revelation 21:3-4, NLT)


(Bridge photo by J & L Halverson)


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