It was the third day of our Engage DTS outreach to Kimbe, Papua New Guinea. Our home and base of operations for the next month and half would be YWAM Ships Kona’s vessel, the m/v Pacific Link.
The local open-air market, a twenty minute walk from the ship through the tropical heat, held great potential for talking to and praying with people. There, vendors set up stands to sell their wares: colorful meri blouses, toiletries, flip-flops, multi-colored knitted bilums and many other things.
We had no other ministry scheduled since we’d not yet had time to make any contacts among the local people. So we made our way to the teeming market, hoping for some divine appointments. Once there, we split up into pairs and asked the Holy Spirit where we should go.
Our team leader, Jina and I set out together. We prayed and I felt led to go in a specific direction so we followed the guidance—only to end up at a dead end street behind a store.
“Where are you going?” We turned around to see a local PNG woman regarding us.
“Oh, we’re just looking around,” we replied.
“Your English is really good,” Jina remarked.
The woman explained she was a local missionary to Kimbe and had been working with the Salvation Army for nine months.
“We are missionaries too,” Jina told her. “And we’re looking for contacts so we can minister to the people of PNG.”
That’s all we needed to forge a connection. Captain Julie Ian invited us to her house. She told us how she ministers in a local settlement named Buvusi and pastors a small church there. The area proved a difficult place to work in; The hearts of many of the people were hard. “But I keep on because it’s worth it.”
We’d expected to pray for and encourage Captain Julie but we ended up receiving. In ministry, you will face some tough times, she reminded us, but keep on persevering no matter what.
Hearing her words of encouragement and seeing her perseverance in kingdom work in Buvusi, despite many obstacles, touched us so deeply we were in tears. Before we concluded our visit, we prayed for her as well. She then asked our team to come to her church in the settlement and to preach there. We had our first ministry contact!
When we arrived at her church the following Sunday, she also asked us to do children’s ministry. YWAMers are called to be flexible and prepared on outreach so I headed over to the kids. Natalie and another member of our all female team preached and we shared testimonies.
At the end of Natalie’s message, Captain Julie spoke in the native pidgin, inviting anyone who wanted to rededicate themselves to Christ to come to the altar. She also included anyone who wanted a deeper prayer life. People began to come forward, falling to their knees as they sought the Lord. Captain Julie asked our team to pray for them.
The presence of God began to overwhelm me as I approached the people kneeling at the front and I fell on my knees as well. Nearby, a frail looking, elderly woman prayed and wept. I put my hand on her and prayed for her. I doubted she could understand English but I just kept asking God to bless her. As I did, I started voicing my thankfulness to the Lord for this woman. I was so grateful that I could kneel beside this sister of mine, both of us submitting our lives afresh to the Savior. I strongly sensed God’s immense love for this woman and His pleasure in her.
What an humbling experience to have the privilege of interceding for these people. I was overcome with the impression of God’s great love for them. It literally weighed with a holy heaviness on my spirit. I’d never felt anything like it before. The very beauty and intensity of it made me weep. I looked around at my team as they ministered and saw their tears as well.
Earlier, during our lecture phase at YWAM Kona, Hawai’i we had decided to set aside one lunchtime a week to pray for God’s heart for PNG. I knew next to nothing about the people of this nation or their culture but continued to seek God along with my team.
And then came the morning at that little church and our whole approach to doing ministry in PNG, the way we looked at ministry, changed. We learned to see the people the way God sees them and to value them as He does. We were so amazed by the way the Lord dropped his love for PNG right into our hearts and He’s still deepening that love.
by Grace Soetopo
as told to Cheryl Weber
YWAM Ships Kona Volunteer