A Green Walking Stick
Three words to describe my experience in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are: Humbling, liberating, and enlightening.
Hiking in the Clouds
I spent two weeks in the Yamap language area in Morobe Province. I had a lot of aspirations before I came to PNG. I thought I could learn the language quickly and have a great impact on the people. But I learned the language slowly and I soon realized how little I could give these people.
One day the men of the village invited me to come on a hike with them. I thought I should hike barefoot like them. I had no idea how slippery the path would be. After a bit we stopped at a small school house. While we were there it rained hard and then the path was even more slippery! My feet hurt and I had to shuffle along with someone holding my hand to keep me from falling.
I was discouraged. I asked God, "Why am I here? Am I wasting my time? Am I wasting Your time?" Then I went on a hike with some of the village kids. They said the trail was "bagarap". That meant that it was in poor condition, or, in my opinion, non-existent! The way was straight down. The little kids had to hold both my hands to help me down the hill. It was humiliating. I prayed, "Lord, make me learn something from this."
Bare Foot Hiking
Back at the house, I decided to go on a prayer walk by myself. I put on my shoes and went down to the river. I looked and saw a small sanctuary with beautiful greenery all around. I sat there and asked God's forgiveness for trying to do ministry my way. I felt cleansed. When I finished praying I saw a stick. It was straight and I thought it would make a good walking stick so I picked it up and took it with me.
On the trail, I met a man and he walked along with me for a while. He told me my stick was old and weak and that I should throw it over the edge of the cliff. After I did, he gave me a strong green walking stick. It hit me that I had my own ideas of what ministry should be. My ideas were dry and useless, and God told me to throw them away. I had come to Papua New Guinea with my own concept of what I could do there. But I realized that what is important is being willing to follow God's leading day by day, and to be open to whatever He wants me to do. The goal of my life is not to fulfill my own desires, but to live for God's glory.
Photos by Benjamin Reister
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