It was a great privilege for Colin and myself to attend the Kainantu Camp Meeting in the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea and see the fruits of the work of the lay pastors led by Pastor Livingstone Kul under God’s blessing. The lay pastors of Papua-New Guinea found a small tribe of 40 or 50 people who had never before been discovered. They live in the border area of New Guinea and Papua. They are totally stone-age people. They wear no clothes except a bit of bark. They sharpen cassowary bones for knives. They make primitive axes from sharpened rocks tied to sticks. They eat only what grows in the area. Because they are isolated, they just die when they get seriously ill. They’ve never seen white people, of course, and didn’t even know that they existed. The occasional airplane which flies over, they though was a big bird.
The lay preachers decided to bring one of these men with them to Camp. They have changed his name to Daniel. They only discovered this tribe in the last month and they walked all the way up to the camp. The man, of course, knew no pidgin English and his language isn’t even remotely related to their native languages. But if ever I’ve seen the gift of tongues, I’ve seen it here. This Daniel, I would guess, is about mid-twenties in age, but he has absolutely no concept of his age. Nor can he count. But in the three week in walking to the Camp He had picked up pidgin English to the point that he supplied all the information I have mentioned above. The only information he didn’t give was that there were 40-50 in the tribe, because the tribe has no method of counting. The lay pastor reported the number to us. When eventually they came to the village and boarded a utility truck (this is the main form of busses in the highlands) and they put him on it, naturally he was terrified and tried to jump off and it was necessary to restrain him.
Daniel is quite short, has big eyes, a very mild personality; he has a wry smile and understandably seemed totally over-awed. The lay pastor had dressed him in trousers and shirt and a jacket. But when they first put clothes on him the poor man was unable to understand the use of buttons and zippers. Coming to the little highlands town of Kainantu, he was over-awed by its civilization. The crowds at the Camp Meeting amazed him. We were the first white people he had ever seen and having never known that such people existed, he was very afraid of us. But when we eventually met, he was very gentle, and there was a little smile. He felt our arms, perhaps to make sure we were real and not just ghosts.
But little by little Daniel is understanding God’s truth. The laymen will use Daniel to go back with them and explain to this forgotten tribe the simple truths about Jesus. It was such a thrill to see first-hand this truly pioneer work of the lay ministry movement in Papua-New Guinea. God is using these faithful men to take His truth to the hidden corners of the earth. Never have I been more convinced that we are at the end of time when the prophecy that the gospel will be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue and people is being fulfilled before our eyes.