Feet of an evangelist

Across the planet, some things in life don’t change.

A young man marries a young lady.

Dreams and future hopes shared!

They have a child.

He leaves her.

Many young women and their parents know the heartache, the hurt and the broken dreams in this story. This is magnified when you are a young woman in a male dominated culture with little work, no welfare and one child….

Anna Josiah and her 5 year old son were living with her Mama and Papa in their local village in Papua New Guinea. She had graduated from school in year 8. She now sits opposite me in the small Wok Meri Trening Skul in Steng, a two hour drive up the Markham Valley, just outside Lae.

As a dad, I catch my breath for a second as I see remaining traces of deep pain in her eyes.

Anna has spent a number of years working in her village as a Wok Meri – a young woman serving her community as a church lay worker or ministry “doer”. She conducts Bible studies and talks to the elderly, leads singing and acts as a grief counsellor – just about anything her congregation requests of her.

The role became hers after assisting the wife of a Bible translator who was in her village for a year.

Capable, trusted and a valuable member of her community, her congregation selected her to do a 2 year course at the Steng Work Meri Trening Skul (Ministry training school for women).

She sits in front of me as one of 19 volunteer students who are taught by 4 volunteer teachers in one of 4 Wok Meri Trening schools. She will return to her village and her son at the end of her training having developed teaching skills, studying the Old and New Testaments, completing modules in disability, mathematics, Christian studies, church history, book keeping and other skills to help her ministry in the village.

As I listen to Anna’s story I recall the words of Pastor Bunabung the volunteer school chaplain at Steng. Pastor Bunabung is a pastor in a village who also gives up his holidays and weekends to be chaplain to the women and to refine and develop the school curriculum.

“The young ones will bring change for tomorrow. I believe in these women. When we educate these women, we educate our people to be Lutheran.”

Pastor Bunabung has a strong focus on women as ministry leaders and evangelists. While his dad was an elder, it was his mother who worked with missionaries and talked to him about prayer, prayed with him, took him to Sunday School and showed him Jesus. Something he believes is often done by women of faith.

Anna especially loves telling her son the Bible stories and wants to learn more about Jesus so that she can return to her village as a Wok Meri – a Jill of all trades, a bringer of hope, a community carer with the feet of an evangelist.

God uses cracked and broken vessels – what seems so ugly, when free in Jesus, is beautiful for many. Please pray for Anna and the 40 young Wok Meri’s who graduate each year.

Lutheran Women of Australia have contributed to the publishing costs of the Wok Meri curriculum.

Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray

Read more stories about our partner church in Papua New Guinea at http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/papua-new-guinea/