I Heard a Kepauku Pray!
After I had crawled into my sleeping bag, I overheard one of our native workers dealing with some Kepaukus of the interior of Dutch New Guinea in a room next to mine. Quietness followed, and then I heard a native supplicate our Heavenly Father in his own language. It was the first time that he had lifted his voice to God in prayer.
There is nothing that rejoices a heart of a missionary more than to hear a heathen soul pray for the first time. If there is an exception to the above, it would be the cry of one’s newborn babe.
I thought that this was the first native of his tribe to pray to our heavenly Savior. However, I learned that during the time the missionaries and native workers were away from the interior and the Japanese were in occupation, a native chief had frequently prayed. While the missionary and native worker were with him, he was in faithful attendance at the services. But never had he lifted his voice in prayer during that time.
This primitive, illiterate, native chief was not ashamed to pray and witness as to his convictions. He had seven sticks to help tell him when it was Sunday. Each day he would pick up one of the pieces of wood and put it in another place. The seventh stick would indicate to him that it was Sunday.
On that day he gathered all the natives that were interested for a simple service. In it he would relate such information that he could remember having heard the native workers and missionary proclaim. When some natives would laugh at him, he would say, “You just wait; you’ll go to a place of fire when you die.” He would say, “You must not work nor get angry on Sunday.” He would pray, “Lord, fight the Japanese.”
Every morning we have devotions with the natives, and they are now joining their supplications with our own before the throne of grace. Already several have experienced divine healing. A consciousness of sin and wrong is slowly being comprehended. That interest in the services is growing as evidenced by the attentiveness of the natives, the increasing number in attendance, and the conversation that follows each service.
While the Lord appears to be working, so also is the devil. Almost ever since our arrival we have been threatened by unfriendly natives who are hostile to all non-indigenous peoples. Time and time again they have planned to attack our camp and kill us. But the Lord, in answer to prayer, has delivered us out of their hands.
If only for personal safety’s sake, it has been necessary to live close to the Lord that we might have the assurance of His protection upon us. We have boasted of the faithfulness of the Lord in being able to take care of us under any circumstances. The natives are observing. The number of sympathetic natives is increasing.
—Rev. E. H. Mickelson. Adapted from The Alliance Weekly, April 26, 1947.
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