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!


Seeing Kotidanga with Fresh Eyes

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.

The beautiful vista of the Tauri River valley in Gulf Province, PNG (Nov. 2015)

The beautiful vista of the Tauri River valley in Gulf Province, PNG (Huyo village, Nov. 2015)

We live in a rainforest--with the emphasis on rain.

We live in a rainforest–with the emphasis on rain. (Kotidanga Baptist Mission, Nov. 2015)

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)

Heavy rains regularly tear up our bush road, and we are the ones who get to fix it. (Mte village, Nov. 2015)

Heavy rains regularly tear up our bush road, and we are the ones who get to fix it. (Mte village, Nov. 2015)

And the road washes out again. And you fix it again. (Mte village, Nov. 2015)

And the road washes out again. And we get to fix it again. (Mte village, Nov. 2015)

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)

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

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

On the veranda of the clinic, Ben Samauyo preaches the Word to waiting patients. (Oct. 2015)

On the veranda of the clinic, Ben Samauyo preaches the Word to waiting patients. (Kunai HC, Oct. 2015)

Ben (with megaphone) preaching in the Kotidanga village market. (Nov. 2015)

Ben (with megaphone) preaching in the Kotidanga village market. (Nov. 2015)

A teen girl carries a week's worth of sweet potatoes ( Kamea, "hope'a"). (Oct. 2015)

A teen girl carries a week’s worth of sweet potatoes (kaukau…in Kamea, “hope’a”). (Kunai village, Oct. 2015)

Betwel builds a new house under a quickly-clouding sky. (Nov. 2015)

Betwel builds a new house under a quickly-clouding sky. (Kunai village, 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)

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)

Daily study of the Word keeps us reminded of why we are here: The glory of God and the salvation of men. (Copyright, JMA, 2010)

Daily study of the Word keeps us reminded of why we are here: The glory of God and the salvation of men. (Copyright, JMA, 2010)




Back Home in PNG!

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!
Image-13120777And 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!
IMG_3840We 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.
IMG_3586Tyler 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.

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.
IMG_8821Pray for each of us as we resume work in translation, mentoring pastors, teaching, and the clinic.

Serving Him in the Field,
John & Lena Allen
Galatians 6:9

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 🙂


Noel’s Best Day Ever

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 9.33.05 PM

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.

IMG_5336And 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.

IMG_4703In 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.

IMG_4012He 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.

IMG_1141Noel 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. IMG_6024Noel 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. IMG_1458
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.”

Lena & Noel, February 2015

Lena & Noel, February 2015

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.

IMG_6549Whenever 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.

Matt & Noel, April 2015

Matt & Noel, April 2015


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.






Just as Noel would wait for us at our gate, we imagine him waiting at the gate of Heaven for us now!

Just as Noel would wait for us at our gate, we imagine him waiting at the gate of Heaven for us now!

Join Us for a Year That Will Change Your Life


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.

  • Do you demonstrate a love for Christ and for others?
  • Do you have a burden for souls?
  • Are you a detail-oriented self-starter?
  • Are you a team player with a humble respect for authority?
  • Do you have the health and stamina to serve for long days, long nights, and irregular schedules?
  • Do you have a consistent walk with the Lord?

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.

What do you do when you are the patient?

When You Become the Patient

Dear friends,

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

John & Lena 2013

An Old iPad Can Spread the Old, Old Story

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.”

Ben Samauyo, our Kamea Bible translator, holding Benjamin Luke, our handicapped brother

Ben Samauyo, our Kamea Bible translator, holding Benjamin Luke (in the green shirt)

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.”

Ben & John translating and recording the Jesus Film in Kamea using BSVT

Ben Samauyo & John translating and recording the Jesus Film in Kamea using the Bible Story Video Template developed by JAARS

We would like to get:

  • iPad 2 or 3
  • a 12 volt car charger
  • a case to protect it

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

Jesus Videos in Kamea

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 phonesKamea 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.

Jesus’ Baptism and Temptation

Jesus Film Invitation

Ben doing a recording

Interview with Ben and John (uncut)

The Teddy Bear Talked

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 making things right July 2014

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.