Saturday, June 19, 2010

Extreme Makeover: Pokarumb

Each time we passed the Pokarumb church on the way to town we noticed how rundown the building looked but we understood that the cost of a gallon of paint is roughly equivalent to 5 months of a pastor's salary ($80 US!). 

Pokarumb was the third church started in PNG.  Syndey Knox, the pioneer missionary, worked to build a building for them to worship in, in 1957. Its land has unfortunately been at the center of some terrible tribal fighting over the past 6 months.  The lay pastor, Pastor Elis, tells the story of being "hands upim" (held at gunpoint) with M-16s in the front yard of the church.   The enemy line cut down the huge old trees surrounding the building, stole windows from the church and tried to destroy the sign.  She pleaded with them not to destroy the parsonage and they left it standing, after taking everything from inside.  The house of the retired pastor was dismantled and taken.

The fighting is over now.   17 men were killed on both sides.  The church almost died also.  It went from a sanctuary full of men and women to 7 faithful women.  The men had to flee the land to save their lives.

The faithful few prayed that the Lord would help them to fix the church building.  They felt it would be a new start for the small group of believers.  The next day Jonathan, Sam and I talked with them about coming to help!  How sweet the Lord is!

We, along with a team of MKs and volunteers, spent a Saturday painting, repairing, installing new window glass and having our own tribal war with 2 hives of bees (they eventually lost but left wounds on many of us!).  A group of us went the next to day to worship with them.  What a privilege it was to encourage this small group of brothers and sisters in the Lord.  We took two special pictures--one of mostly women who had stayed during the fighting and one of young men who had fled and now returned home.
For an album of photos and captions that go with this story, click here.