Sometimes, when things seem impossible, God does the impossible just to show us He’s Lord. My trip to southern Papua was tangled in impossibilities.
I couldn’t fly with Adventist Aviation Services, my usual source of transport, due to the death of pilot Bob Roberts some months before. So I called his son Eric, who flies for another company in Indonesia, to see whether he could help me make alternative plans.
Accommodating my itinerary would be a tall order. Within the next three days I needed to get Global Mission pioneers Jerry and Melky to the remote villages where they’d be planting new churches; visit Fernando, a pioneer whom I had no idea how to find; and be home by Friday in time for other appointments.
Fernando and his wife, Marie, and their three-year-old son, David, had moved to Sengge 10 months ago, a village so isolated, it had no means of contact with the outside world. Normally, they would have received supplies from Adventist Aviation three or four times by now. It was urgent that I let Fernando know why they weren’t being delivered and that I support him in any way that I could. “Lord,” I prayed, “I need a miracle.”
Eric connected me with a pilot in southern Papua, and within two hours he was able to get us our tickets. That may not seem like a big deal, but it’s amazing when you understand the challenges of traveling here.
That afternoon a strong wind began to blow, and we received news that our flight would be canceled if it didn’t let up. “Lord,” I prayed, “You’ve already worked one miracle to make this trip possible. We know you can work another if it’s Your will.” The wind gradually died down, and Tuesday morning Jerry, Melky, and I flew to Kepi.
We were warmly welcomed by a small group of Adventists who had been trying to start a church there for years. They were so grateful to finally have a pioneer of their own. I helped Jerry settle in and then looked for a speedboat driver to take Melky and me to Bade.
During the first hour of our trip, we skimmed along the relatively calm Kepi River. But then we met the mighty Digul. Known for its high waves spurred on by the incoming tide, the river was even more treacherous than usual. Towering whitecaps, one to two meters tall, slammed against our small craft, threatening to sink us in crocodile- and python-infested waters.
“Lord, we need a miracle,” I prayed, grasping the bars on the edge of the boat. “Please keep us safe!”
Finally, after more than four hours of crashing against the bottom of the boat and being pummeled by cold rain, we rounded a bend in the river and spotted our destination. We stepped on shore with thankful hearts and made our way to the only hotel in town, eagerly anticipating hot showers and soft beds.
But the hotel was full—all three rooms. “Lord,” I prayed, “we need another miracle.” No sooner had I said “Amen,” a man approached us who was a friend of an Adventist doctor in town. “I noticed you praying,” he said. “Do you need a place to stay?” Graciously, he invited us to come to his home.
Global Mission pioneers are lay people who volunteer to start new churches in areas or among people groups where there is little or no Adventist presence. They seek to understand the needs of the people whom they’ve come to serve and then minister to those needs through a wholistic approach.
Since 1993, they’ve helped thousands of people to experience abundant life in Jesus and started more than 11,000 new Seventh-day Adventist congregations. Their ministry wouldn’t be possible without your donations and prayers. Thank you!
If you would like to support Global Mission, be assured that every dollar will go directly to the front lines of mission, reaching people who are still waiting to hear about Jesus.
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I praised God for providing us with a refuge. Yet tomorrow’s challenge still weighed heavily on my mind. How was I going to find Fernando’s village? All I had to help me locate it were approximate coordinates, and guesswork on the Digul can be a dangerous thing.
After giving our sore bodies a rest, Melky and I asked our host whether we could borrow his motorcycle to go get something to eat. As Melky navigated the winding roads, I prayed that God would direct us to someone who knew the way to Sengge.
Suddenly, I noticed a heavily bearded man running almost even pace with our motorcycle. He was shouting “Pastor! Pastor!” Who is this guy? I wondered. I didn’t recognize him. Then I realized it was Fernando! I had never seen him with a beard before.
I pulled on Melky’s sleeve and said, “We’d better stop and see what Fernando has to say.” It was Melky’s turn to be surprised. “Fernando!” he shouted. “How did he get here just when we needed him?”
“I don’t know,” I replied, “but you’d better stop before he drops dead from trying to keep up with us.”
After a few moments of excited hugs and slaps on the back we got down to the all-important question. “How did you know we were in Bade and that you needed to come guide us to your village?”
“It’s a long story,” Fernando replied. “Let’s go get something to eat, and I’ll tell you.” Over plates of steaming rice, vegetables, and fried tofu, the story of God’s amazing leading unfolded.
In the middle of the previous night Fernando had two dreams in which an angel stood before him and said, “Go to Bade.” Both times Marie awoke to see him praying beside their mat in their jungle hut.
The next morning the couple walked down to the river. When Fernando saw the two-meter swells, he told Marie about his dream. She looked at their little log canoe with its strapped-on, home-made propeller and said, “Your dream is impossible. You’ll have to go another day.”
Fernando walked to the river every hour to see whether the waves had diminished, and each time he felt the impression to go to Bade. Finally, around noon, the urge was so insistent that he decided to go. He fought the waves for five hours.
When Fernando arrived in Bade, he didn’t know what to do, so he called the district pastor. “Have you met with Pastor Darron yet?” he asked Fernando. Ahh, so that’s what this is about! thought Fernando.
With some 5,000 residents in Bade, Fernando had no idea how to find me. “I bowed my head in prayer,” he told us, “and when I said Amen you passed in front of me on the bike. I said, ‘Lord, slow them down so I can catch up.’ And just then Pastor Darron turned toward me with the most confused look on his face!” We rejoiced at how God had brought us together.
The next morning we chartered a boat and made it to Sengge through more incredible waves, where I had the privilege of meeting some of the people who had been baptized since Fernando started his ministry 10 months before.
What an incredible trip! I had no idea how I was going to accomplish my tasks, but God had everything in control. There’s no doubt, that when it comes to impossible missions, angels are better than satellite phones.