RainforestHome

It was 11:53 pm. The moonless sky was pitch-black with clouds. Unseen mosquitoes buzzed near my ear, and a very small fire was trying to burn about 20 yards away. A short, elderly man scurried about, picking up little pieces of trash from the area near his house. I watched as he paced, tears welling up on the bottoms of my eyelids. That’s when I heard him lightly singing a tune I’ve never heard. I just had to know what he was singing.

That short elderly man was Elijah, a man that got saved about three years ago, here in Kotidanga. When he got saved, he was very sick. The Lord had directed Pastor James, my dad (Missionary John Allen), and me to all three independently witness to him in the same week. Elijah moved to the coast last year, and has not been back here since. His severe asthma just doesn’t aggravate him in the lowlands. He built a house in the swampy area of Titikaini, and repeatedly sent requests for us to send preachers to his area. His plea: “The people here really need the Gospel. Please send a preacher.”

This past weekend, we made a survey trip to visit the Kamea villages of Titikaini. Missionaries Andrew Schellenberger and Jason Ottosen accompanied me along with two of our Kamea preachers, Tony Tinandi and Konos Manus. We stayed at Elijah’s house, and we hiked to the surrounding villages. Elijah had told us the truth–there are a lot of villages in that area, and there are only three churches, all Seventh-Day Adventist. No Catholic churches. No Lutheran churches. No Charismatic churches. No Baptist churches.

As we hiked, Elijah kept telling the people, “Tonight, these preachers will be at my house. Come hear the Gospel, and get saved.” I couldn’t help chuckle as I heard him bluntly tell people they needed to get saved. He was so matter-of-fact about it. No “beating around the bush” for him!

For each of three nights, people came and respectfully waited in the darkness as we had dinner with Elijah and his family. For each of three nights we invited them to sit with us as we took the opportunity to share the Gospel with them. For each of three nights, they did not respond to the Gospel. This night was no different–no response. They simply said, “Thank you,” and went home.

This night, we went to bed after the people left. By “went to bed,” I mean, we returned to our hut and crawled under the mosquito nets. Konos and Tony were drifting off to sleep, and the three of us missionaries were quietly discussing the plans for the following day. Elijah came into our hut and announced, “There are six people in the next house that want to get saved.” I woke up Konos, and he responded, “We better check them out, and make sure Elijah isn’t coercing them into this decision.”

We split the six adults into three groups. Konos and I dealt with two young men. Andrew and Tony dealt with two older men. Jason waited patiently for Konos and me to finish with the first two men; and then, he and Konos dealt with two elder ladies. All six adults truly were repentant of their sin and trusted Christ for salvation!

It was while Jason and Konos dealt with the elderly ladies in Elijah’s hut that I observed old man Elijah cleaning up the yard and singing his song. It was late at night. I sat on a log between two huts, each of which hosted people putting their trust in the Savior.

I walked up to Elijah and began helping him gather the last small pieces of trash left behind by the group that had come to sit and listen to the Gospel. In hushed tones, I asked him what he had been quietly singing. He told me, “It’s a song I made up last week. I was sitting here in my hut and I looked up to Heaven and began to sing, ‘Papa God, Papa God, I’m just a rubbish-man. And you are too good to me. Papa God, Papa God, you show me nothing but grace.”

Please forgive me that the English version just doesn’t rhyme or meet a rhythm. I just couldn’t help but shed tears of joy as this Kamea convert was bearing spiritual fruit.