Thursday, May 1, 2014

Saul to Paul

Before joining the Hewa work I heard story after story of literal witch hunts. Many times in those stories the same man's name appeared over and over...Kalefu.

Kalefu was considered by my co-workers, "the most evil Hewa man." He even proudly confessed to them that he was working for Satan. He killed many innocent women and children. He was an axe murdered. He was Mr. Despicable.

Then he moved into our village.

I was terrified at the thought, but he came because his second wife was accused of being witch and he wanted her in a village that would be safe. The second wife and I became fast friends, so I was glad that she would be living with us, but very nervous about her husband and what his presence would do to the normally peaceful dynamic of our village.

So I started praying for him. I specifically prayed that he would make a "Saul to Paul" kind of change. That he would go from fighting against Jesus and His followers to fighting for Jesus a for the souls of others.

After a few weeks of this very specific prayer my co-worker, Susan, shared with me that she had being praying this very same thing. We were both praying the same prayer for the same man without even knowing it or talking about it!

A few months later Kalefu began demanding that we teach him to read and write so he could read the Bible. He also demanded to hear the Creation to Christ teaching after that.

Jonathan and Susan went on furlough, but the Hewa Bible teachers started the literacy class. Kalefu came every day and diligently worked to learn to read and write.

Kalefu learning to read and write in his own language

Then they began the "Phase One" Bible teaching. Kalefu faithfully attended only missing a few lessons in the middle to attend a very important court concerning his brother.

John Michael and I along with our other co-workers, Jag and Abby, were still in language study at the time, so we could not talk with Kalefu about what he was hearing and reading everyday in the Bible lessons, but we could see just from the expression on his face that God was really doing something big.  He no longer had the angry stare and evil eyes that gave me the creeps when we first met.

He didn't always wear the leaves and mud, but he did always wear that a menacing look on his face.

After the presentation of the Gospel we asked several people what Kalefu thought of it. Did he understand? Did he believe? Most people couldn't give us a very clear answer in Melanesian Pidgin so we knew we would have to wait until Jonathan and Susan got back.

Just a few days after they arrived Jonathan sat down with Kalefu and discussed all that he had heard and learned, and he gave a very clear testimony to his belief in Jesus Christ!

Such an amazing miracle! This man now publicly reads his Bible. Stands up at weddings to let everyone know that this will now be done God's way, and even ran to catch up to my husband and Jag when he found out they were leaving to go on hike to pray for their safety!

Kalefu reading aloud in church

We are all so excited and so thankful for what the Lord has done in his heart and life! He is definitely not perfect, but is very interested in discipleship and learning more and more about the Word of God.

And in God's perfect timing, He blessed Kalefu with a new baby boy. My friend, Tesi, gave birth to a much longed for son. She had not given the baby a name yet and Abby and I talked about how special it would be for her to name him Pol (Paul). So the next time Abby saw her, she told Tesi that she should give the baby the name Paul and why. (Susan then later explained to her in the Hewa language so we would be sure she understood). Tesi agreed and loved the idea of the name, so now they have a son to mark this amazing shift in their lives.

Tesi with baby "Pol" and her oldest daughter Jiyamali
Through all the sad and devastating things we have faced in Hewa, God gave us the special privilege of watching Him work in the life of this man and this family. Please continue to pray for them as Kalefu has two wives who do not get along at all. (In fact, the first wife is the one who marked the second as witch- basically sentencing her to death.) They are all professing believers now and are trying to live out their days that way. Unfortunately it is much like forging a new trail in the very thick jungle. Each day they have to work vigorously hacking away at old beliefs and behaviors to clear a new path for their feet so they do not stumble. Pray that they do not give up, but find a way to love each other and be an example to other "Despicables" out there!