Saturday, April 24, 2010


I didn't know how one life could contain so much heartbreak.

He was born with deformed hands.  His left hand has a normal thumb and one finger.   His right hand has a thumb and 3 fused fingers.  Somehow, he seems to be able to handle things and do basic sorts of work.

Although raised in the church, he had never asked Jesus into his life.  He followed a life of crime.

By about 2 years ago, he was married and had 3 children.  As the only son in his family, he had inherited a large piece of land, and felt pretty well set.

Then one rainy night, he was walking along a familiar path near a river with his 4 year-old son on his shoulders.  He was depending on his knowledge of the route, along with the dim moonlight of an overcast night.  What he didn't know, and couldn't see, was that there was a place where the heavy rains had washed a section of the path into the stream.  He stepped off into the washed-out section and fell and tumbled into the river.  He grasped his son's leg with his left hand, but his arm struck a stone, which loosened his grip.  They both plunged into the cold, rain-swollen water.  He was disoriented at first--perhaps he also struck his head in the fall.  In the swirling water he heard a voice saying, "give your life to Jesus."  The words were repeated 2 times.  There in the blackness, he gave his life to Jesus.  Quickly his mind cleared, and he was able to lunge to the surface of the water.

Apa called his son's name, and thrashed around in the water trying to find his son, but to no avail.  It was not until 3 days later that the little boy's body was found, some distance downstream.

Sometime after this, his wife's family came and took her away from Apa.  He had not paid any bride price at the time of the marriage, and because he couldn't work for wages (no one would hire him because of his had deformities), and because he didn't have any brothers or other close relatives to help him, he had not been able to pay, and her family had allowed him to postpone payment.  But now their patience was at an end.  Besides, they accused him of killing his son.  If they were serious about this accusation, I don't know why they didn't try to take the other children away from him, but they didn't.

He was recently able to get a job as a security guard at the hospital, and thing were looking up.  He assumed that if he could save up some money to pay bride price, he would get his wife back.  A friend even offered a generous gift to help with the bride price.  But then it became obvious that she did not want to come back to him.  There were rumors that she had moved in with another man.  Then she went to his employer with false accusations that lead to the loss of his job.

A few weeks ago, it became obvious that some of Apa's cousins were determined to take his land away from him.  His coffee gardens were about his only source of income.  Because there were many male cousins to divide their family's land, they didn't have much for each one of them.  They told Apa that they wanted the land.  However, Apa's mother was living on the land, and she had enough influence in the tribe to make it difficult for them.

Last week, Apa's relatives accused his mother of using sorcery to cause the death of another relative.  In many deaths, especially ones that aren't understood, it is assumed that sorcery is involved.  It is culturally acceptable to take revenge on sorcerers, and the sorcerer's family has no right of counter revenge.  It therefore becomes convenient to bring an accusation of sorcery against someone whom one wants to hurt or kill.  So the cousins accused Apa's mother of sorcery.  They found her in the market, with Apa's 2 children.  They attacked her and killed her.

They apparently intended to kill the children as well.  The little girl was left on the ground unconscious, and assumed dead.  The little boy got lost in the crowd, and was rescued by a female relative, who hid him under her coat.  The murderers carried the body of Apa's mother away, and buried her in a location that is unknown to Apa, to deny him of the ability to hold a proper funeral and burial for her.  After the murderers left, someone noted that the little girl was still breathing, and she was brought to the hospital, where she recovered.  Both children are now safe with other relatives.

Finally, the relatives have burned Apa's house, along with all his possessions.  The items he mentioned specifically that were lost were his Bibles.

He came to the house Sunday afternoon, along with Simon and Esther, mutual friends.  We had known bits and pieces of his story, but not many of the details.  Obviously, most of what has happened to Apa can't be fixed, but we are going to try to help with a few things.  Judy had a new Bible which had not yet started "feeling like mine", and she gave it to him.  I know someone who can talk to his former boss to see if there is a possibility of getting the job back, and I have shared the story with him.  Apa has been given a little cash to help with immediate expenses.  Most of all, we are requesting your prayers for him.

Late note:  Apa may be getting his job back.  His wife, who works at the hospital will probably be reprimanded for lying to the security company and getting him fired, and if he doesn't get the gob back, she will probably be fired.  A tiny shred of justice in this painful situation.


  1. That is horrible! Thank you for sharing. We will pray for him.

  2. Hi Andy, You might not remember me. I'm the ENT doc in Arlington. I was cleaning my desk today and ran across a piece of paper that had your name and "another day in paradise." I googled it and found your blog. It is very interesting. Looks like medicine in PNG is a little different than back here at home. I'll plan to check in from time to time. Dave Riley