A Mother’s Love

We first posted this three years ago. It’s now been 14 years…


photo-411 years ago today, my life changed drastically.

In the morning, I had a conversation with my son Ben, a junior in college, about the chance to do an internship in Washington, DC. He wanted to be a lawyer. He’d turn 20 the next day. His birthday present was wrapped, ready to be delivered when I would go to see him in a couple of days.

In the afternoon, I received a call telling me that he was lost, gone, pulled out to sea in the undertow. No hope, the paramedic said. He’s gone.

In the days, weeks, months, and years that have followed, my family has received such an outpouring of love and mercy and care that I still find it hard to realize how God’s people can truly care so much. We have seen lives reclaimed by Jesus, both those who never had known Him before, and those who had wandered astray. We have met servants, dear servants of God, who have  yielded their lives in obedient service to the King of Kings because  this trying event forced them to face their own eternity with a renewed soberness. And we have known precious saints of God, dear loving friends and amazing family, who have given themselves to being compassionate to those who hurt and to those who suffer and to those who have lost, all because they felt with us an incredible burning loss.

God took a young man’s life and multiplied it. And He’s still multiplying it, eleven years later.

It’s said that there’s no love like a mother’s love. I witness it every year at this time. With tears. With weeping. With strength that only comes from God and His word. With rejoicing that the grave is not the end; no, not at all. And I hold her and weep with her. And I witness our sons and their families as they lavish love on their mom, even as they feel their own pain and loss.

Today my wife wrote this email to our boys. We’ve found comfort in different things over the years, but mostly in the memories of Benny and how he was such a cut-up. Yellow roses became a symbol when he passed from death to life, and each year dear friends and family remember him with these yellow roses. Maybe those two things will help you understand what she wrote below:

This afternoon I could not find any yellow roses in Valley Station. Realizing how silly it would be to drive around to other places to find them, I compromised and got yellow daisies. But I was still feeling guilty.

I was walking across the cemetery wishing I had pretty yellow roses to waste again on Ben’s grave, when a hilarious thought hit me. ‘There are tons of yellow roses right here in this park. It wouldn’t be stealing, just moving them around.’  That’s when it got me. That was probably what Ben would have thought, and I busted up laughing. No, John and Dave, I did not move them. 🙂

And then I saw why there are no yellow roses in Valley. I am not the only one that loves Benny.

photo-2 copyWhen we were in Israel, we learned and saw first-hand that when someone visits a loved one’s grave, they leave a stone.  So for my “Jewish” son, I left four stones for the last visits I have made. Thanks Dave for the stones from your back yard. Not that I stole them, just moved them around.”

I love you, Lena. And we all love you, Benny. It won’t be long now, and we’ll all be together again.

A Thought on Vision

Adapted from “The Vision Poem”

Sunset at Port Moresby Copyright JMAllenSr 2013

So this guy comes up to me and says, “What’s the vision? What’s the big idea?”
I open my mouth and words come out like this…

The vision?

The vision is JESUS – obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus.
The vision is an army of young people.
You see bones? I see an army. And they are FREE from materialism.

They laugh at 9-5 little prisons. They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday. They wouldn’t even notice. They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the west was won.

They are mobile like the wind, they belong to the nations. They need no passport. People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.
They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and dirty and dying.

What is the vision?

The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes. It makes children laugh and adults angry. It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago to reach for the stars. It scorns the good and strains for the best. It is dangerously pure.

Light flickers from every secret motive, every private conversation. It loves people away from their suicide leaps, their Satan games. This is an army that will lay down its life for the cause. A million times a day its soldiers choose to lose that they might one day win the great ‘Well done’ of faithful sons and daughters.

Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night. They don’t need fame from names. Instead they grin quietly upwards and hear the crowds chanting
again and again:


Their solid faith in a Sovereign God fuels motives for love, for action, for evangelism. Knowing Christ and making Him known is more than a motto; it is their heartbeat. Confident in their Faithful Father, following their Servant Savior, and indwelt by their Holy Spirit, they drive, they plunge, they plod, they pursue.

Glory goes to their God. Praise and worship flow through the Spirit.
And to the Lamb goes the reward of His suffering.

This is the sound of the underground. The whisper of history in the making. Foundations shaking. Revolutionaries dreaming once again. Mystery is scheming in whispers. Conspiracy is breathing. This is the sound of the underground.

Copyright 2013 JMAllenSr

And the army is discipl(in)ed. Young people who beat their bodies into submission.
Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms. The tattoo on their back boasts “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes. Winners. Martyrs. Who can stop them? Can hormones hold them back? Can failure succeed? Can fear scare them or death kill them?

Studying the Torah at the Western Wall Copyright 2013 JMAllenSr

And the generation prays like a dying man with groans beyond talking, with warrior cries, sulphuric tears and with great barrow loads of laughter!

Waiting. Watching: 24 – 7 – 365.

Whatever it takes they will give: Breaking the rules. Shaking mediocrity from its cozy little hideout. Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs, laughing at labels, fasting essentials. The advertisers cannot mould them. Hollywood cannot hold them. Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resolve at late night parties before the cockerel cries.

Serving as Jesus’ hands and feet is not beneath them. They need no accolades; they only need opportunity.

They know that their good works speak volumes. They also know that the Gospel must be spoken as much as it must be seen. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” They are not afraid to show it or to tell it. “Hell is hot, Heaven is real, men are lost in sin, and Jesus is the only Savior.”

They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive inside.

On the outside? They hardly care. They wear clothes like costumes to communicate and celebrate but never to hide. Would they surrender their image or their popularity? They would lay down their very lives – swap seats with the man on death row – guilty as hell itself. A throne for an electric chair.

Kerema road

With blood and sweat and many tears, with sleepless nights and fruitless days, they pray as if it all depends on God and live as if it all depends on them.

Their DNA chooses JESUS. (He breathes out, they breathe in.) Their subconscious sings. They had a blood transfusion with Jesus. Their words make demons scream in shopping centers.

Mediocre, half-baked churchianity doesn’t appeal to them. Jesus’ call to forsake all has gripped them, and it is Jesus they follow. The false, lazy armchair brand of Christianity produces false, lazy Christians–if it produces Christians at all. No thanks, they say; I’ll take Jesus.

Don’t you hear them coming? Herald the weirdos! Summon the losers and the freaks. Here come the frightened and forgotten with fire in their eyes. They walk tall and trees applaud, skyscrapers bow, mountains are dwarfed by these children of another dimension.

Their prayers summon the hounds of heaven and invoke the ancient dream of Eden.


And this vision will be. It will come to pass; it will come easily; it will come soon. How do I know? Because this is the longing of creation itself, the groaning of the Spirit, the very dream of God. My tomorrow is his today. My distant hope is his 3D. And my feeble, whispered, faithless prayer invokes a thunderous, resounding, bone-shaking great ‘Amen!’ from countless angels, from heroes of the faith, from Christ himself.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.

Bring it on. Give us Thy grace, Thy wisdom, Thy power, Thy love, Thy heartbeat. And as Thy church advances, the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her. To You, our only wise God, be honor and glory and praise and victory!


Adapted from “The Vision Poem”

Faithful Words from Our Faithful God


How can we ever fully comprehend our awesome God? In trying to grasp Him for myself, and in order to communicate Him to our people, I find I delight most when HE reveals Himself through His work and His Word.

Ben is continuing his exposition of 1 John in the Kamea language, and our people enjoy the sweet sound of the Scriptures in their mother tongue. Imagine hearing about God’s love in your heart language for the first time!

Ben doing an exposition of 1 John in Kamea

Ben doing an exposition of 1 John in Kamea

We are also teaching a series on the church, with a goal to more firmly establish a mature church. Presently I am teaching on symbols in the church, including the cross, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, showing the meaning of each for us as believers.

Simultaneously, I get the privilege to lead us through Ephesians, and our focus for the last two months has been on the family.


Would you pray with me as we move into Ephesians chapter 6 soon, and deal with the topic of spiritual warfare? Never in my life has this topic been so intensely real as it is here and now. Pray with us that God will do a work in saving sinners and nominal believers, and that He will reveal Himself as mighty over the works of the adversary and the forces of darkness. More than just hearing simple platitudes about having victory through Christ, we want the Word of God to fill their minds and to free them from the fear of evil spirits that they live with every single day!

Liven Yali patiently waiting for the boys' turn to say their memory verse

Liven Yali patiently waiting for the boys’ turn to say their memory verse


Pastors attending the Pastors' Workshop at Calvary Baptist

Pastors attending the Pastors’ Workshop at Calvary Baptist

Ben traveled with us to Calvary Baptist Church in Lae City last month. Pastor Phillip Sorulen hosted a pastors’ workshop and missions conference, and we were blessed and encouraged by the teaching and preaching. Pastors attended from many places around PNG. I enjoyed my sessions with the pastors and people, and count it a privilege to be invited to take part.

Calvary Baptist Choir singing to a packed church house!

Calvary Baptist Choir singing to a packed church house!


At present I have completed the front translation of Acts. Ben is well past the half-way point with the Kamea translation, and Yali is close behind doing the back translation for our review. Sarah Glover is continuing with Kamea literacy, and more and more of our people are beginning to read the Word in their own language.


Pray for the ministry here,
that Christ would be magnified,
that the Holy Spirit would have liberty,
that the adversary would be defeated,
that the believers would be strengthened,
that souls would be saved, and above everything else,
that God would get all the glory!

Serving Him in the Field,
John & Lena Allen
2 Thessalonians 3:1

Ben and Nathaniel painting the trim on the Kotidanga Baptist Church building

Ben and Nathaniel painting the trim on the Kotidanga Baptist Church building

The PNG National Health Department surprised us with a plane load of medicine--flown up here at their expense!

The PNG National Health Department surprised us with a plane load of medicine–flown up here at their expense!

A God Worth Serving

Pastors' Conference speakers & attendees, May 2016

Pastors’ Conference speakers & attendees, May 2016


We just completed our Pastors’ Conference a couple of days ago. We hosted several of our graduates and their wives for a time of teaching, of ministering to one another, and of refreshing.

Matt speaking to the preachers

Matt speaking to the preachers

Matt Allen and Jason Ottosen were able to share the teaching with me, along with my wife and Cherith Ottosen teaching the ladies’ sessions. Our prayer, as always, is that there will be lasting fruit from our time together. Everyone enjoyed being here!

Kotidanga Baptist Church hosts the ordination of Jack Naudi.

Kotidanga Baptist Church hosted the ordination of Jack Naudi

An added blessing was the ordination of Jack Naudi, 2007 graduate of our Bible school. He has been working with Jason Ottosen planting Komako Baptist Church. Our church here has supported Jack as the first missionary they sent out, and they were proud to host his ordination.

Matt, John, John Gray, & Jason Ottosen with Pastor Jack Naudi

Matt, John, John Gray, & Jason Ottosen with Pastor Jack Naudi

Matt flew John Gray up from Kerema to be the guest speaker for the meeting. He preached a great message for us all.


We have seen some people saved in the last several weeks. Ben has been preaching from our newly translated book of 1 John, while Sarah Glover is teaching Kamea literacy to help our people learn to follow along in their printed copies of the book as Ben preaches.

Arriving for church, barefoot in the rain

Arriving for church, barefoot in the rain

Pray with us that our people will put the effort into learning to read Kamea so that they can read the Word for themselves.  Ben, Yali, and I are still working on the first draft of our translation of Acts. Continue to pray with us for the Gospel to go forward among the Kamea.


Our clinic staff, both PNG nationals and US nurses, has been steadily busy. Even as I write this, two ladies have been at the clinic for over 12 hours to deliver their babies. Day in and day out, the nurses handle all sorts of cases, some quite serious.

Hannah & Renisa with a patient

Hannah & Renisa with a patient

Tiffany with another newborn

Tiffany with another newborn

One of these was a lady named Deni, who was very short of breath and unable to get to the clinic. In the dark, our nursing staff went downriver to see her and administer breathing treatments. For many years we had tried to reach Deni with the Gospel, but she had always been resistant. But just a couple of weeks ago, after she had recovered, she came to the clinic wanting to get saved. Ben’s wife Anjuta shared the Word with Deni, and she put her faith in Jesus. Amen!

Check out our blog post about the ultrasound we are using in our clinic for our unborn babies.


Lena and I are enjoying good health at the present, and we count that possible because of your faithful prayers on our behalf. Please keep it up! We are also extremely thankful for your friendship and fellowship in the Gospel. Thank you for staying faithful there and enabling us to stay faithful here!

Serving Him in the Field,
John & Lena
2 Thessalonians 3:1

Mom, Dad, & Matt

Mom, Dad, & Matt

Thank the Lord for family!

Here's Pa & Grandma with Dave & Sarah, Nate & Amber, and our seven grandkids in the USA

Here’s Pa & Grandma with Dave & Sarah, Nate & Amber, and our seven grandkids in the USA

Dave is up for promotion to Lieutenant with Louisville Metro Police Department; Nate was ordained to the ministry in April. We love these guys and their families!

Matt & Becky and our two granddaughters in PNG

Matt & Becky and our two granddaughters in PNG

Matt and family are planting Capital City Baptist Church and South Pacific International Academy in Port Moresby, PNG.

By the Word of His Power


The daily work of translating God’s words into Kamea is pressing forward, even when different kinds of delays pop up throughout the week:

There’s something broken that must be fixed.

IMG_9773                             There’s an emergency and a patient needs transport.

IMG_0267    There’s a flight coming with supplies and we have to go over the mountain to meet it.

IMG_0406                 Someone from the community has come and wants to share a story.

IMG_4114But it is all the sweeter when we can read something like this in Kamea:

Nai Ä’oi mtinga tawata upmäta nonqo ti,
ma pi’a’ma Ä’o qana nai mtinga tawata qanupmäta ti.

          We love him, because he first loved us.
                                                 (1 John 4:19)

We just completed our final check of 1 John and printed copies of it. This is our second New Testament book! Right now Ben, Yali, and I are in various stages of translating the book of Acts. Pray for this amazing work!


John, Ben, and Yali



Just this week someone came to Ben, asking him to explain the Gospel further. She said that she had heard Ben preach on Tuesdays at the clinic, and she is under such conviction that she can’t stop thinking about it. Pray that she will soon come to faith in Jesus Christ!



I have been preaching expositionally through Ephesians for many months now. At the same time, Ben has been expounding his way through Romans. By the time you read this, Ben will be teaching through 1 John, directly from our new Kamea translation. This will be another milestone for us!


1 John in English, Pidgin, and Kamea

The affect of God’s Word on our people is visible. Change is slow but solid, and it is wonderful to watch the power of the Word as it does the work of God in hearts and lives!

Serving Him in the Field,
John & Lena Allen
2 Thessalonians 3:1

Click here for PDF version

Random Postscripts…

Ever wonder where we live?

View of Kanabea airstrip (4,100 feet elevation) that connects us with the outside world. We live "just" over the mountain from Kanabea.

View of Kanabea airstrip (4,100 feet elevation) that connects us with the outside world. We live “just” over the mountain from Kanabea.

Hopefully this part of the road is fixed well enough to last!

Hopefully this part of the road is fixed well enough to last a while!

Tiffany Heafner enjoys a laugh with her patient.

Tiffany Heafner enjoys a laugh with her patient.

Erin Canterbury works with a wee one.

Erin Canterbury works with a wee one.

Sarah Glover and Snowi go through a patient's symptoms.

Sarah Glover and Snowi go through a patient’s symptoms.

Hannah Bogard and Lena receive medical supplies from Michelle Hau'ofa from PNG Tribal Foundation.

Hannah Bogard and Lena receive medical supplies from Michelle Hau’ofa of the PNG Tribal Foundation.

Click to visit the PNG Tribal Foundation website.

The Kamea "Jesus" videos continue to receive lots of attention as they spread the Gospel in the Kamea language.

The Kamea “Jesus” videos continue to receive lots of attention as they spread the Gospel in the Kamea language.

January 2016


The New Year’s arrival brought with it the reality that things on earth don’t last forever. Our national pastor’s house support posts had rotted prematurely, which made it necessary to dismantle the entire structure and rebuild it again with new posts.

IMG_4152The same thing happened with the bridge leading through Kotidanga village. The supports rotted out causing the bridge to be unable to bear the burden of our bush vehicle. It took many men and large, strong logs to replace this vital link.

IMG_4169How careful we need to be as we walk along in our Christian life, examining that upon which we stand—or think we stand. Christ alone must be our solid Rock and our only foundation. Men’s programs, policies, and plans may often be nothing more than shifting sand. Christian, check your posts!


We held our Pastors’ Leadership Conference in December. Missionary Jason Ottosen hiked 12 hours over the mountain to teach with me. IMG_4137Our men enjoyed the sessions and we all enjoyed the fellowship and news from the ministries across the Kamea region.

IMG_0198Our TTMK team was blessed to have Pastor Matt Anders and Monte and Angie Ashworth  (all from our home church) come to minister to us last week. We held our first-ever field conference in Port Moresby at Capital City Baptist Church, and the first time we’ve all been together in one place. Thank you to our wonderful home church, and to those who support the members of the TTMK team here in PNG.


Kunai Health Centre has been a catalyst for many visitors at Kotidanga Baptist Church recently. Some who have been resistant to the Gospel for years have had their hearts opened through the clinic ministry to receive the preached Word. IMG_0100

We held our annual Christmas preaching meeting, and we saw many decisions made, including entire families joining together in prayer to work to build stronger homes.

At the same time, more and more unsaved visitors have been coming to hear the preaching, and this resulted in a harvest of no less than 20 souls in the regular preaching services during the month of December! Also, in spite of public opposition to the market preaching, Ben has continued to preach, and the Lord has blessed that as well.
We started the New Year with a baptismal service, where Ben conducted his first baptism—and baptized 32 people! Among them were his mother Mary and his daughter Nosa!

Thank you for enabling us to minister in PNG in your stead. We ask that you remember Lena’s health as you pray. May we all be found faithfully walking with the Lord this year!

Serving Him in the Field,
John & Lena Allen
2 Thessalonians 3:1

Click here for a PDF version of this newsletter

Christmas in Kotidanga 2015

Here are some of the blessings that happened around Christmas here in the village:

IMG_4115Benjamin Luke got his iPad repaired and more Christian movies installed. He is our “hut-bound” evangelist in Mewari village, gladly sharing the Kamea “Jesus Film” with those who visit him. Special thanks to a special friend in the USA who provided this blessing for Ben!

IMG_9891Ilava wanted to share the fish she caught with Bubu Lena.

IMG_9932God spared Patricia’s life after giving birth to a new baby girl. A retained placenta and post-partum bleeding nearly took her from us and her dear family. She is the wife of our church’s song leader (and one of my translation helpers), Yali Peter.

IMG_0108Here is Patricia and her baby girl less than two weeks after she almost lost her life. Praise the Lord for His goodness!

IMG_4154Yali leads the music for our two-day Christmas meeting.

IMG_9845The missionary ladies hosted a Ladies’ Christmas tea for the ladies of Kotidanga Baptist Church.

IMG_9831Some of these ladies had never had tea or coffee before…so they tried both in the same cup, at the same time.

IMG_9918We had a special Christmas dinner ready, and then the ladies got called out on a medical emergency. At least the table looked nice with special local and flown-in foods!

IMG_9916Emergency taken care of! Lena, Sarah, Hannah, and Tiffany return to the Christmas table for a wonderful evening together.

TTMK’s First-ever Field Conference

In January 2016, That They May Know held its first-ever field conference at Capital City Baptist Church in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

IMG_0198Special speakers were Pastor Matt Anders, along with Monte & Angie Ashworth, from our home church, Landmark Independent Baptist Church in Louisville, KY.

IMG_4202We met in Matt & Becky Allen’s home in Port Moresby for the conference. It gave the meeting a feeling of family (and a welcome respite from the Moresby heat!).

IMG_0210Wil Muldoon shares praises and prayer requests for the ministry in Baimuru as we listen and take notes.

IMG_0213There was lots of good food and fellowship between sessions!

IMG_0214IMG_4216There was special music by the TTMK team and by the missionary ladies during the Sunday morning service at Capital City Baptist Church. CCBC’s new building is still under construction, but what a blessing to see what the Lord is doing there, too!


November 2015

Back in Kotidanga! We have been back in the village for several weeks now. It was a pleasant surprise to see the grounds of the church so beautiful and clean. Ben Samauyo, my national translation partner, did a great job of looking after things in our absence. The several-month long drought in our area ended the day we arrived 🙂  Since then we’ve had abundant rain.

Geti Augustine gave Lena and Sarah Glover a traditional welcome home. (Nov. 2015)

Geti Augustine gave Lena and Sarah Glover a traditional welcome home. (Nov. 2015)

Kotidanga Baptist Church has prospered under Ben’s leadership. The church leaders have handled difficulties scripturally, and the maturity in the body is measurable. Ben has a loving heart and burden for the lost. He and I are sharing the preaching duties to allow him more time for translation. Our weekly market preaching has also resumed. Pray with us for the salvation of our lost visitors. There are a number of unsaved who know they are not saved, who are now attending regularly.


Afternoon sun patterns in the jungle can produce striking effects. (Kotidanga Baptist Church, Nov. 2015)

Afternoon sun patterns in the jungle can produce striking effects. (Kotidanga Baptist Church, Nov. 2015)


Response during prayer time after a morning worship service at KBC. (Oct. 2015)

Response during prayer time after a morning worship service at KBC. (Oct. 2015)


The Kamea Bible Project is continuing. We’ve added a third member to our team, Yali Pita. Yali is our church songleader and a godly man. He will be doing our back-translation work. Ben has completed a first draft of 1 John, and we are checking it now. It has been a blessing to read the great truths found in that book with fresh eyes—and to hear them conveyed in the Kamea language! Our people are excited!

John, Ben, and Yali share some translation insights with Jack Naudi (2007 Kotidanga Baptist Bible School graduate), who works with missionary Jason Ottosen in Komako. (Nov. 2015)

John, Ben, and Yali share some translation insights with Jack Naudi (2007 Kotidanga Baptist Bible School graduate), who works with missionary Jason Ottosen in Komako. (Nov. 2015)

Kunai Health Centre is busy again.

In the last few days the nurses have been involved in their first two baby deliveries, an overnight emergency, and the usual busy-ness of a bush medical clinic. Lena is teaching, the new nurses are learning, and the Gospel is being shared with many patients daily. Praise the Lord!

Kunai Health Centre is back in full swing. (Oct. 2015)

Kunai Health Centre is back in full swing. (Oct. 2015)

Thank you for being a part of our lives. Many of you follow Lena’s Facebook posts and are able to see part of the daily blessings here at Kotidanga. Continue to pray for our health and strength. We count it a joy to represent you here among our dear Kamea people!

Serving Him in the Field,
John & Lena Allen
2 Thessalonians 3:1

Click here for a PDF version of the post.