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

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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

November 2014

Rain, Measles, & Bible Translation

Love that Rain

Rainy season for us is generally the end of June through August. This year it started in early June, and it still hasn’t ended. Moving our supplies, medicines, and personnel by air has been a challenge. Many bush flights have been cancelled or postponed, most of them after sitting all day in the rain waiting for the clouds to lift. Still, the days aren’t always wasted, because we take along our Kamea videos from the “Jesus Film” and show them to anyone who comes by.

Showing the Kamea Jesus videos in the rain

Showing the Kamea Jesus videos in the rain

Next time I hear someone complain about flight delays while sitting in a climate-controlled airport with a Starbucks and a McD’s, I’m going to say, “bless your heart.” 🙂

Loving Others

The measles outbreak that began in June seems to be letting up here at the beginning of November. Some lives were lost due to being unable to get to treatment, but praise the Lord, many others were helped by the care they received from our Kunai Health Centre staff.

A happy patient!

A happy patient!

It has been cold and wet, yet those who have come have not only received medicine; they have received hope. Many have heard the Gospel clearly, some for the first time. Just last Sunday we had several visitors who came to church because of the clinic ministry.

Loving the Word

In addition to the Life of Christ series, Ben and I have finished translating up through Luke 12. We have checked up through Luke 8 with our church people and other villagers, and it was understandable for them. Our people are grasping much more of the Word as we work through the passages in their heart language. They are learning Jewish culture, biblical backgrounds, and best of all, the Spirit is opening their eyes to spiritual meanings.

Showing how to use the Kamea Jesus videos

Showing how to use the Kamea Jesus videos

One thing that our people had a hard time grasping: a kiss. To our people, “kiss” is a noise you make with your lips. When they (among the older people) greet each other fondly, they stroke each other under the chin from neck to chin—we call it, “chin-chucking.” They don’t understand why the father of the prodigal would make a noise when the prodigal came home, rather than “chin-chucking” him. I guess Song of Solomon is going to be a challenge to translate…

Kamea Jesus video recording session

Kamea Jesus video recording session

Ben is attending a school right now to improve his English skills and to learn how to use a computer. He was able to get a partial scholarship, and the rest we are funding from our support. He and I are scheduled to meet with a translation consultant in a couple of weeks to get an idea of how we can improve our methods, as well as to see how we are doing with the translation.

Serving Him in the Field,

Bro. John & Lena Allen
Galatians 6:9

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

September 2014

Recording Videos

Kamea videos produced on installed on smart phones!

Kamea videos produced on installed on smart phones!

Since our last update, Ben Samauyo and I finished recording the last of the Kamea videos. We have them formatted for smart phones, which many of our people in the jungle have—imagine that! Last week we were talking with a group, and when talking about Luke 2, they quoted a scene from the life of Christ from the videos. Wow! Our hope is that the Lord will continue to use this to create a great thirst for His Word.

In our translation of Luke, we plan to have our first consultant review by the end of the year. Right now, Ben has done a first draft through Luke chapter 10. Keep praying with us and for us in this important ministry endeavor!

Resident Visa

After less than seven years in PNG, Lena and I obtained our Permanent Residence visas. Amen! Shorter lines in transit and no renewals are necessary—at least that’s what we’ve heard. Praise the Lord for this blessing!

Reaching All Ages

Starting the new church building

Starting the new church building

Since Kotidanga Baptist built its church building in late 2008, it has been full most Sundays. So full, in fact, that they had to begin a break-out Children’s Church ministry to fit everyone in. At the end of July, Kotidanga Baptist began construction of their fourth church building—paid for with indigenous funds, built by indigenous men.

Resounding Miracle

In one of our greatest trials here to date, national pastor James Naudi’s daughter became ill with meningitis. For many days our nursing staff and Sarah Glover (our literacy teacher) took turns doing “life breaths” for 16 year old Jemila. She would seize, stop breathing, and convulse; and some of these were lengthy seizures—one lasted over two hours.

Sarah was reading the word to Jemila one evening, and suddenly, Jemila was healed! It was amazing in how it came in response to Jemila’s hearing God’s Word spoken to her. God has used this resounding miracle to speak to many people here. There was a huge struggle among our people to take Jemila to the witch doctor, but Pastor James stood firm. In the midst of a fiery trial and great affliction, God got great glory. (Read the full story.)

Kunai shadow

View from the clinic porch

At present, our clinic is dealing with our portion of the nation-wide measles outbreak here in PNG. Children have died because of this, and it has been an acute caseload for Lena and the staff here at Kunai Health Centre. We covet your prayers for this ministry! And praise the Lord, in the midst of all the recent trials, just two weeks ago a woman trusted Christ in the clinic. To God be the glory!

Thanks for holding the rope with us. Jesus is coming soon—may we be found faithful telling others about Him when He comes!

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

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)

August 2014 Newsletter


Lena once wrote that the sorrows, pains, and transitions of this life are like our landslides here in PNG. Though they change the scenery dramatically, sometimes the end result (over time) is a new place for things to grow.

2014 continues to be a year of transitions for our TTMK team. Our last newsletter mentioned some transitions, and we have had more since then. Andrew & Rachel Schellenberger returned Stateside after a marvelous four-year ministry here. How we miss them! John & Marciana Gillispie (and children NehemiahElijah, and Hadassah) arrived in May to begin their ministry here. Recent RN graduate Ashley Norcross has joined us to work in the clinic for the next few months. With the new people arriving this year, we look forward to what the Lord is going to do with them!

Manandi Dagoino

For the last couple of years, we have had a young Kamea lady, Manandi, working in the clinic. She finished grade 12 (a rare opportunity for our people!) and we are trying to help her get into nursing school. Would you pray that Manandi can get accepted and that she can become a nurse? We long to see our dear Kamea people filling the role of healthcare workers!


In our last letter we mentioned Jeff, who had been very ill with TB meningitis. Thank you for praying–he has recovered and is living the normal life of a young boy!

There have been more cases of TB meningitis, two of them being Pastor James’ adopted daughter Jemila and her friend Esila. Through this horrible illness, the Lord has done a mighty work in the sight of our people. (See the story at our blog.)


At the end of April we held another Pastors’ Leadership Conference with most of our mountain pastors in attendance. It was a great time of fellowship, teaching, and encouragement, for us as well as for them.




“Where is your belly button?” was a message I preached in Kotidanga recently; and it’s not what you might think. When Kamea babies are born, their mothers save their, um, umbilical cords—their belly buttons. They keep them in a special place, and that helps to remind the child where he was born. In expounding on Ephesians 2:6 about Heaven being the believer’s home, I shared with the people that if we are born again, in a spiritual sense, we have a “belly button” in Heaven—which means that is our true home. They got the application quickly, and I might admit, with a smile. (And no, they didn’t syncretize it into a weird, new doctrine of heavenly belly buttons.)

Ben with the Kamea Videos on his phone


Ben Samauyo and I are continuing to translate the Gospel of Luke. To complete the life of Christ, we  translated almost 350 verses into the Kamea language. Then Ben did a great job narrating the videos, and our people love them! Now they have been converted to a format that will play in readily available video phones, and distribution has begun. Pray that we can send the Word throughout the Kamea people via this great tool! Watch an interview with Ben and me, or go here and here to see some of the videos for yourself–and to brush up on your Kamea.

Showing the Kotidanga Baptist Church adults the final Kamea video–no one moved while it played!


In May, we also had the privilege of having Jon & Julie Limmer visit to see how we produce the videos. Julie is on the JAARS development team for the Jesus video, and she was glad to watch us use the program on the field. It was a further blessing to have Suzanne Olson spend the summer with us to learn first-hand about bible translation and to help Sarah Glover with her literacy program.

With all that is happening in all the ministries of our team, we know that a large part of the team is not out here in the bush—that means youYou are the ones who enable us to labor here, through your praying and your sacrificial giving. It will take eternity to reveal what has happened because you stood with us. May God bless you as you have blessed us!

God bless you as you also strive to know Jesus and to make Him known!

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