As we observed Easter, I kept reflecting on the great man who carried everyone’s pain although he didn’t deserve it. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself,” Philippians 2:3, NKJV. This verse really speaks volumes of the sacrifice Jesus made to die on the cross in order to set you and me free from our sins.
After a long day of responding to needs caused by Cyclone Pam on Tanna Island, I returned to the community where I was staying. I had spent the entire day hiking to a water point to identify issues that needed to be solved, and along the way, I had fallen. Although the dangerous trip had made me angry, I recalled Philippians 2:1-11 and asked God to forgive me for my complaining heart.
When it was time to sleep, I located a concrete foundation next to the community center. But before I spread out my sleeping bag, I got an invitation from Jack Jauko, an 87-year-old man, to come stay in his house. Both options were scary as I was not sure of my security in either place.
I decided to go with Mr. Jauko, hoping that my travel companions, who were sleeping in hammocks, would let others know where I went to sleep if anything went wrong. Despite making the decision, I was still concerned about how safe I would be in the man’s house. I worried about what I would do if I were attacked in the night. I hadn’t stayed in anyone else’s house on the island.
I’m sure that the Lord knew that I was fearful and calmed me down. When I reached Mr. Jauko’s home, he invited me into his hall. I asked if I could put my sleeping bag on the floor, and he agreed. He sat down to chat with me a bit.
He asked what part of Africa I’m from and what work I do. I told him that I’m a water and sanitation advisor who works for a Christian organization that responds to help those who are physically and spiritually in need of help. Mr. Jauko then said, “I have a great friend in America. Do you know him?”
I asked who his friend was. “Billy Graham,” he said. I explained that his son is the head of our organization as I pointed at the Samaritan’s Purse logo on my T-shirt. Mr. Jauko exploded with joy and decided to share how Billy Graham became his friend.
He explained to me that one day, he heard Billy Graham on the radio. He wrote down the contact information and sent mail to the address. He was surprised to receive a response with lots of Christian literature. The Christian books and literature helped him build his Christian faith and today he still stands firm in the Lord. He showed me his Billy Graham books and magazines, which he still receives regularly and reads every day.
He went further to explain that when his faith grew and he returned from teaching on another part of the island to his native village, he helped to establish a church. Though their church building was blown away by the cyclone before Pam, he has taken it upon himself to build a church from the little pension money he receives with some support from the community Christians.
Before Cyclone Pam hit Tanna, he had bought 50 bags of cement to mold blocks to continue with the church building. However, Pam ripped off the roof of the building and soaked all the cement. He said despite all these challenges, he is determined to complete the church to make sure other people in the village hear the Good News.
Mr. Jauko uses his hall where I slept as the church now, which has more than 50 members from the village and its surrounding areas. These conversations clearly put away the spirit of fear that had gripped me earlier. By 8:00 p.m., I was fast asleep when I heard a wake up call to eat. This was a miracle as I had lost most of the biscuits I was carrying on my two-day journey during my fall on the hike.
This testimony confirms that when we put others before ourselves, God will lift us from whatever danger, fear, or pain we go through as confirmed in Philippians 2:9-11. Sometimes we might feel the burden is too much to bear, but let’s remember the Good Lord will help us sail through scary moments as we do His work.