When you are away from home, it is a blessing when you can return with “fresh eyes.” You see things you don’t usually notice, you gain new perspective on old sights, and you enjoy a fresh view of the familiar.
When you are away from home, it is a blessing when you can return with “fresh eyes.” You see things you don’t usually notice, you gain new perspective on old sights, and you enjoy a fresh view of the familiar.
MENDED IN HEALTH
Lena has recovered well from her surgery. We are so grateful for her surgeon, Dr. Mitch Campbell, who is a great friend as well as a great surgeon. Thanks also go to Dr. Kathie White, whom God has used many times over the years with regard to Lena’s health.
Lena is feeling rested and ready to return to the ministry. Me too! We are so grateful for the ministry of our home church during our stay. Their love and ministering to us has truly refreshed our souls!
And of course, being with our sons and their families was a blessing beyond words. Grandkids are great!
I was privileged to spend four weeks working with students from India and Myanmar, teaching them how to evangelize using the Chronological Bible Storying method. It was exciting to see their enthusiasm!
We also were able to produce a brief video on one of the stories from the Life of Christ. The students did the recording and the production. Pray for this needy area of the world and for the national laborers God is calling to reach their own people.
It was my privilege to be a part of Tyler Nikkel’s ordination service before he and his family left for their new ministry in PNG.
Tyler will be our new pilot and beginning a ministry of church planting. We thank the Lord for the Nikkel family and look forward to serving with them on the field.
MAKING OUR WAY HOME
When you get this, we will almost be home. We plan to spend a week with our son Matt and his wife Becky (and our granddaughters!) in Port Moresby. Their new ministries, Capital City Baptist Church and South Pacific International Academy, are extremely busy for the Lord. We will reconnect with Sarah Glover and her visiting helper, Mary Ann Mast, and meet up with our new nurses, Hannah Bogard and Tiffany Heafner. After buying supplies, picking up medicines, and packing it all up, we will head back to the village.
Pray for each of us as we resume work in translation, mentoring pastors, teaching, and the clinic.
Serving Him in the Field,
John & Lena Allen
Being as dependent as we are on aircraft to get us in and out of the tribe, a sight like this (where we fly at Kanabea airstrip) is our equivalent of Atlanta, Chicago, or LAX. They don’t usually lose our luggage–maybe that’s because we’re the ones who load it 🙂
Jungle. Rain. Mud. Hunger.
Smoky huts. Leaky roofs. Tattered clothes. Bark blankets.
Multitudes of mosquitos. Malarial fevers. Ravaging typhoid. TB encephalitis.
And seizures. Every day.
Many of these things make up the daily lives of the Kamea people. True, there are happy things as well; but for most of our people living in the remote mountains of Gulf Province, these difficulties are a fact of everyday life.
Except for the seizures. That was something Noel alone had to live with all of his life.
Noel’s World Began to Change
When the missionaries moved into Kunai village in 2004, Noel’s grandfather Isaac was one of the landowners. It wasn’t long before Noel, who was hindered by microcephaly (which causes an under-sized cranial cavity), became acquainted with these strangers who now lived among his extended family. Over the years he never grew up much, mentally or physically; but that never stopped him from touching the lives of everyone who ever visited Kotidanga Baptist Mission.
And it wasn’t long before smiling Noel became a fixture at the mission. Once the Kunai clinic opened, almost daily he could be found hanging around with the missionaries, especially the nurses. They loved him unconditionally. They hugged him, and he was always glad to reciprocate. They walked with him to the village market. Many times he accompanied them in the Kawasaki Mule on short trips—and if Noel had his way, he would have gone every time.
In his younger days he earned the moniker, “Naked Noel.” Like many Kamea children, he would scamper about without a stitch of clothes, in complete innocence. When Sister Becky told him he should wear clothes to church, he would bring his trousers and put them on once he got into the building—and when service was finished, he would take them off and scamper out the door.
He loved anything with an engine, anything with a sound he could imitate. Every construction project where we used a generator, Noel would be there, desiring to be the one to turn it off when given the signal. (He would have started it, but his crippled arm couldn’t pull the starter rope.) When the project leader would stand aside, arms folded, pondering the next move, there too would be Noel—standing beside him, arms folded in the same manner, looking as important as he could. Except that he would have a grin. A huge grin.
Noel enjoyed worshipping with the believers at Kotidanga Baptist Church. At times, he would make a grand, slow entrance, just as the songs were being sung. He would look from side to side, as if to make certain everyone saw him, smiling from ear to ear. Some would motion him to sit down and not to disturb, but he often ignored them and made his way to the front where the pastor was sitting. Noel would then sit down on the floor beside the pastor (most people normally sit on the floor anyway), and then put his hand on the pastor while doing his best to sing. Many times before the service was over, he would make his way back to sit with one of the missionaries, usually one of the nurses.
Noel’s Passions in Life
Everyone who knew Noel knew that he had one favorite thing: Helicopters. Because we have a large open area at the mission, and because the missionary helicopter pilots know us, sometimes they will come land at our place to refuel—which puts them not only in our front yard, but in Noel’s front yard. Keeping a safe distance from the twirling blades, Noel would serve as security, keeping the younger children away too.
Once the chopper (or as Noel called them, “sopa”) was shut down, Noel would get as close as he could and look wonderingly at the beautiful, magical aircraft. The pilots all know him, and one day, one of them actually took him for a brief, hovering flight. Ah, Noel! As he would say excitedly, “Sopa! Sopa!”
Would it be too presumptuous to say that he had a favorite nurse? That would be his beloved Setina (Lena). He hung out with her so frequently, both at the clinic and at her home, that most of the nationals called her his “mama.”
How those two loved each other! Many days in the clinic, Lena would give Noel a pen and paper to keep him busy, and he would sit and draw myraids of tiny circles all over the paper—which he would proudly show everyone. Of course, he could never resist being Lena’s assistant as she treated patients, following her from patient to patient. It was there that his inimitable heart of compassion showed through.
Whenever someone was suffering, or if they had a visible, ugly wound, or if a baby was crying, Noel would go and pat them gently, saying, “Äwa, Äwa” (I’m sorry, I’m sorry). How many times we missionaries would be injured, and Noel would rush to us saying, “Äwa, Äwa” until we gave the proper response, “Awa ti, tenkyu Noel” (It’s OK, thank you Noel)—which would usually be followed by a big hug from Noel.
If someone was hitting or fighting with someone else, regardless of the situation, Noel would bravely run into the conflict and try to defend the weaker party. He had a keen sense of justice and mercy.
It was clear to see that Noel’s own suffering informed him of what it felt like to suffer. His own experience of being bullied by other children because of his being different made him especially sensitive to others who were on the receiving end of injustice.
Noel’s Best Day Ever
Noel was plagued with seizures. Lena put him on anti-seizure medication, which helped a lot. But sometimes the medicine wasn’t given properly by his family, and in the last few years his seizures intensified in frequency. Often he would fall into the cooking fire or into the river when having a seizure.
It happened for the last time on Monday morning, May 4, 2015. Noel went to wash at the creek near his home, and it seems he had a seizure. One of our men found his lifeless body in the water a short while later.
Imagine Noel’s surprise when he awoke in a new home, in the presence of the God Who loved him with a perfect love. In a place with no more suffering. In a body without limitations of thought or action. In an environment without mud or smoky huts or hunger or malaria. In the midst of joy and love and peace that exceeds that of his friends at Kunai or helicopters or even his beloved Setina.
Imagine his being able to speak clearly. Imagine his hearing the songs of Zion in perfect harmony. Imagine his looking on the face of Jesus!
Imagine if his first day went like this:
He meets his grandfather, Bubu Isaac, one of the first Kamea believers. “Bubu, you are strong again! You look so healthy!”
He meets a former playmate, Allen, who died in an accident a couple of years ago. “Allen, you are well again! You can talk and play and run and live!”
He meets another young man, whom he only had known by his picture in the clinic. “You must be Ben. I saw your picture in the Kunai clinic every day. Our Mama Setina really misses you.”
He meets other Kamea believers who have gone before. He joins them in perfect harmony, perfect love, perfect joy, singing praise in their own heart language to the God Who created and loves all nations and tongues:
“Nkot’o awamanga ti! Nkot’o qe’atamanga ti! Nainga Na’a’oi’ya taka apa’ma nuwäno!”
“God is good! God is great, wonderful! Let us go worship the name of the Lord!”
And then, Noel meets Jesus.
It was Noel’s best day ever.
Out in the mountainous jungles of Papua New Guinea, people live and die, often without Christ and without medical care. Kunai Health Centre is a living demonstration of Jesus’ ministry, following His example of preaching, teaching, and healing. We have a daily clinic; we do pre- and postnatal care; we deliver babies; we give childhood immunizations. We are a TB center, a vision clinic, a dental clinic, and a place for medical education.
If you are a trained, degreed medical professional, consider joining us to reach beyond your world with the Gospel. A limited number of one-year post-graduate medical internships are available for qualified candidates at Kunai Health Centre.
It is not easy. It is not for the faint of heart. It will test your faith, your strength, and your calling. But if this is what God wants you to do, nothing will compare with it.
Read through our blog. Browse Lena’s page on Facebook to learn more about the clinic ministry from the last several years, and see what the Lord does in your heart.
Then contact us to begin the medical missionary journey of a lifetime.
When You Become the Patient
Lena and I have returned to the US for a medical furlough and rest. Lena is meeting with a spine surgeon friend of ours this week to determine if she will be getting a long-delayed operation on a bad disc in her neck.
We are thankful for God’s provision of a place to stay and a good surgeon with whom to consult. Our pastor and family urged us to come home, and also recommended us staying off the road for a while; I am glad to comply. We will update you all as soon as we know more.
This is not our regular furlough, and we have every intention of returning to the work as soon as possible. My national translation partner Ben is looking after the ministry and the mission in our absence. Lena’s clinic, however, had to be closed as she was the only nurse we have at present.
We covet your prayers that God will do for us what needs to be done, and for our friends and co-workers in the work back in PNG. Thank you for remembering us and the ministry in prayer.
Blessings in Christ,
John & Lena Allen
I rarely ask for help. Call it pride or stubbornness or the way I was raised, but I’m not prone to ask for a hand.
It’s even harder as a missionary, because I live on the gifts of God’s people. Without their heart of generosity, I couldn’t do the ministry things I do.
This is one of those “ministry things.”
We have a young father who is crippled from the waist down who has the ear of his people. Benjamin Luke is an amazing evangelist. Unable to leave his hut on the side of a mountain in remote Papua New Guinea, he shares the Gospel with dozens of people who come by his home. His venue: A mobile phone with the “Jesus Film” in his tribal language.
Imagine 15 people in a dark, smoky hut, crowding in to watch the “Jesus Film” in Kamea. The sound of the video echoes out across the mountainside, drawing more people to come and see. Videos are still an extremely rare treat for our people. Videos in their tribal language are even more rare–since we produced the only videos in the language, all 26 are Gospel videos.
Here’s my request, which is actually a request from our friend Benjamin: Does anyone have an old iPad 2 or 3 that they would be willing to donate? We have already set Ben up with a solar charging system at his thatched-roof hut, so he can charge the iPad like he charges his video phone (an Alcatel Pixie that someone bought for him–and by the way, there’s no phone service in our valley, so all he does is watch the videos and play the music we recorded). The iPad, with its larger screen, would be visible to more people. Ben’s plea: “I have many people who come to see the videos. We would like it if someone could help us to get a larger video screen.”
We would like to get:
Ben has taken good care of his phone, and I know he will do the same with this iPad. We’ll load the Kamea videos on it, plus as many other Christian videos that we can find and legally copy. And this will be the tool in the hand of an evangelist who can’t move more than a few feet–but who reaches more people in a day than many of us.
If you feel like you can help with this evangelistic outreach, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In January 2014 we began translating the New Testament into the Kamea language. Utilizing a program from JAARS called the “Bible Script Video Template,” we have completed the entire Life of Christ from the Gospel of Luke, using the actual Bible verses instead of the written script from the film.
We have converted the videos to a format that inexpensive mobile phones can use via SD cards and Bluetooth.
Kamea Jesus videos recorded to SD cards for phones
Here are links to samples of the 25 videos recorded in the Kamea language of the “Life of Christ” series. Ben Samauyo is the translator and narrator on the videos; John Allen is the translation consultant and editor.
In July 2014, our team encountered one of our toughest trials to date while working among the Kamea people.
The day it all came to a head, I had just read a great blog post by Jonathan Parnell entitled “Keep Praying That Prayer.” In it Jon shared how his young daughter prays for her teddy bear to talk. It’s a great post on prayer. At the end, he states that either her prayer will mature for even better things–or her teddy bear will talk.
That morning I shared the story with our national pastor, James Naudi. For a week we had been under a severe trial and had been doing a lot of praying. You know the kind of praying; the kind where you wonder what you are even supposed to pray.
Pastor James’ daughter Jemila had begun seizing a week before. Along with the seizures, she would stop breathing entirely during some of her seizures. My wife Lena, along with nurses Rachel Wass, Ashley Norcross, and Rebecca Florence, and our literacy teacher Sarah Glover, took turns giving rescue breaths to Jemila…at one point they did it for over two hours non-stop. Things were looking grim, because you can’t keep that sort of thing up forever, especially when you live in a remote jungle, and the month-long bad weather won’t allow a plane to fly in to evacuate her.
“What are you doing God, and how are we to respond? We don’t even know how to pray in this, but we trust you to work it out. We pray you would heal Jemila.” But would God heal her–or would He mature our prayers?
Our summer intern, Suzanne Olson, wrote the following letter about that harrowing week:
It all started with a critical medical emergency with a youth girl named Jemila. She is our national pastor’s niece, but lives with his family; and, in their culture, she is his “daughter.” Two Thursdays ago, the nurses were frantically called over to Pastor’s house because Jemila was having a seizure and had stopped breathing. Over the next few days, at least one of the nurses stayed with Jemila around the clock because she was seizing frequently and needed rescue breaths until she could breathe again. Even with much medicine, the episodes continued through several sleepless nights. Few people here have ever seen this kind of sickness, and the side effects such as blurred vision, obstinacy, and violence brought much fear to their already heavy hearts.
Then the spiritual battle began. Most of Pastor’s extended family is unsaved or only nominally Christian. When they came to visit from the neighboring villages, they continually pressured him to take Jemila to a witch doctor because all of the medicines didn’t seem to be helping. Our whole team could feel Satan’s spiritual oppression trying to dominate the situation, but we could do little but pray that the Lord would strengthen the faith of Pastor and the church people. Many times, it seemed as though Jemila would die or the believers would give up on God and take her to the witch doctor. Through all this, God taught me again what it was to feel small and useless–I couldn’t help the nurses except to cook for them, and I couldn’t help Jemila’s family and friends except to sit on the floor with them and pray.
The following Wednesday, six days after Jemila’s sickness began, the church and many neighbors and extended family members gathered in Pastor’s house to pray and establish a unified decision to follow God no matter what happened with Jemila’s life. The next evening, Sarah Glover decided to read Ephesians to Jemila since Bible reading always calmed her down. Although she was almost asleep, when Jemila heard the verse in Ephesians 4 about not letting the sun go down upon your wrath, she started repeating it with Sarah. She then began apologizing, one by one, to everyone sitting there. It was like she just snapped out of it. She hasn’t had seizures or breathing problems since then!
There weren’t too many people in the house at that moment, so Bro. John went around the village telling people to come see her. Seeing her in her right mind brought everyone to tears. GOD IS SO GOOD!!! Pastor and his family were put through the fire of affliction, yet they stood strong and have come forth as gold. It was a revival at Pastor’s house that night–about 50 people crammed on the floor singing praises to God, and Jemila joining right along. She also specifically confronted at least a couple of her relatives who probably aren’t saved, telling them to look at what God did for her and to believe. Now we just pray that she will regain her strength and have no lasting brain injury from the seizures.
Jemila (yellow shirt) making things right with her family and friends
When I first arrived at the house after Jemila had been healed, she hugged me as she had already done to several others. She told me she was so very sorry for the way she behaved, and wept profusely on my shoulder.
That was when the Jonathan Parnell’s blog post came back to me.
The teddy bear talked.
Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? Who can shew forth all his praise?
It is Sunday, May 11, 2014.
In the space of two hours, our national church rejoiced about some serious wins. The believers saw fruit from their prayers to God and their efforts in the ministry.
As the wins were defined, they were celebrated. And the name of the Lord was praised.
The radio tower, rebroadcasting Bible FM from Mt. Hagen, Papua New Guinea, was constructed in 2013. An immense amount of money, cement, sand, and labor went into its construction on Mt. Yimya, 1200 feet above our mission campus. Just about straight up, to be exact. After our church people carried over a ton of material up the mountain, the site was set up and ready to transmit—until the government refused to give the (already authorized) frequency. Delays, delays, delays. Finally the permit was issued, and the transmitter was set up. Matt flew it in here on last Monday; Pastor James announced to the church that we will all go up the mountain on early Friday morning to install it and turn the transmitter on. The long awaited broadcast of the Gospel in the Kamea region via radio is a reality.
The church celebrated with applause. Win! Glory to His Name!
The second of our new missionary families arrived on the field. John & Marci Gillispie (with children Nehemiah, Elijah, and Hadassah) arrived on a beautiful day. They join Josh & Rebecca Florence (with daughters Abigail and Ruth) who arrived a couple of months ago. Both families are orienting here at our campus in preparation for the ministries the Lord will launch them into in the coming months. Pastor James had special prayer today for our new families, that God would help them to learn the trade language and culture, and for us all to work together well in reaching PNG with the Gospel of Christ.
The church audibly rejoiced. Win! More praise to the Lord!
Jon & Julie Limmer from JAARS (a branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators) flew in to see our Bible translation work. Julie worked on the development team for a video production program that allows us to record our translation and put it into a “slide show” type video of the life of Christ. The results thus far have been wonderful, and they joined us to celebrate—and to see the way the program works in the field. They sat with us through translation, then through back translation checks with our people, and finally an live recording session. They watched the fruit of their labor (and ours) as we invited all of our people to come watch the first nine segments. We sat amazed as our people watched the pictures and heard the word of God read in the Kamea language. A couple we have prayed would come to Christ were there; they sat and listened, and then received a clear Gospel witness again from some national believers after the videos.
When this was announced in church today, God’s people celebrated again. Win! Hallelujah to the Lamb!
Pastor James and three of our national men returned from an evangelistic outreach to a neighboring tribe. They preached in markets, witnessed to many people, passed out many Gospel tracts, and saw a good response overall. On their last night out, two old men came to see them in the hut where they were staying. As they told their stories, Pastor James shared the Gospel with them. One of the old men shared his story: He was an old warrior, and told James that he had killed many of James’ Kamea people. Bare-handed, the other old man confirmed. The others concurred with his story. The man said, “I have no hope. God isn’t able to do anything for a man like me.” James went on to share the love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace of God that are found in Christ. After a while of sharing, the old man realized his need—more than that, he realized Christ’s sufficiency. Pastor James was able to lead both the old men to Christ. As he told the church this morning, they celebrated.
We all celebrated. Win! Praise to the Lord, the Almighty to save!
Defining and celebrating wins is important. But if we focus more on the wins than on the God Who gave them, we miss the point. Speaking of all His wonderful works should cause us celebrate the might of our God, the love of our Father, the sacrifice of His Son, and the glory of His name!
I say, this old house, but truthfully it is not old. It was built about 6 years ago. Its walls are made of woven bamboo, its roof is made of bamboo leaves. It has no running water, no indoor toilet, and no lights; it only has the usual the central fire pit. Complete with three small side rooms, it is large by Kamea standards.
On this particular day, this old house, only a 20-minute hike away from our house, was used to hold the body of a man whose soul has already gone to his Father. He had died the morning before while out in the bush, and they brought his earthly body down to this house. People came from several hours’ hike away to pay respects. Today this old house was filled with mourners, at times crying loudly. Today, Pastor James preached the Gospel inside this old house as we all sat and wept. And as I sat, I thought of all the things this old house has seen in the last 6 years.
Actually I made several trips to this old house to see the old man, for he had chronic urinary troubles, always looking after him by flashlight. We told many stories over the fire, passing medicines across the room to him. And later, as his health failed more, his sons would stop at the clinic to pick up his medicines.
My first visit to this old house was because there was a sick lady staying there. Oh sure, I see LOTS of sick people in various bush huts. This one was no different, really. She came from a distant village and had been an inpatient at the government hospital for a couple of weeks, but was not getting any better. I do not know how they treated her, but I immediately recognized the signs of TB, and started treatment. We visited her daily, even gave injections by flashlight. Over two weeks she improved so much that she was ready to hike back to her own home. The family that owns this old house wanted to burn it down for fear of contracting TB themselves. So this old house became a source for instruction and education. They decided not to burn it down, but let it stand.
Once I was called out on an emergency to this old house. One of the community leaders from a neighboring village was cutting firewood with an ax and missed. He had cut the artery in his foot and was bleeding profusely when Margaret and I arrived. Margaret did her first difficult suture job on this man’s foot, while I instructed. It was successful, and the man stayed that night in this old house, too.
A couple years ago, I was called one morning to come to this old house because of a lady who had a difficult birth the night before. When I got there, she was walking around outside the house holding the new baby. Everyone was fine, thankfully. But I knew neither she nor the baby would be sleeping in the house for several days due to custom, even though this old house seemed to welcome everyone.
Another lady stayed in this old house: Maria from Wake. The family brought her to our clinic one morning in a sheet. They carried her for hours after they realized she could survive. She had been bitten three times on her hand by a death adder a couple days earlier. After she was semi-stabilized, she went to stay at this old house, where she continued to recover for a couple of months. Margaret spent hundreds of hours in Maria’s care, dressing her hand and arm, giving her antibiotics and pain medicines.
This old house has been a blessing! It has been there, right on the dirt trail, and many have been helped. The old man’s life was like this old house. He was a testimony to the Grace of God. His physical walls were made of things that were temporal, just like the bamboo and leaves. But inside there was a central Light that shined. Others knew of the Hope that was inside him; there was rest in his heart. Satan would have liked to have burnt down his spiritual house, but God had a purpose.
Oh, the lessons we can learn from this old house.