'Something BIG SPIRITUALLY is happening in Nungwaia!' exclaimed Wewak-based Caravan pilot Michael Dupuis, with great excitement.
Story Judith Dupuis. Photos by Judith Dupuis and Mandy Glass.
'Each time I land there I sell-out of Bibles, I’m selling hundreds!' he explains.
The remote village in East Sepik Province is served several times each month by Wewak-based pilots and planes.
In the area there are nearly 4,000 people, speakers of 10 different languages, spread across four villages, for whom Nungwaia is a community hub.
Blessings in a box
Thanks to donors, MAF is able to provide a Bible box filled with Christian resources on every plane, which are sold at a highly subsidised price to people desperate to have their own Bible.
With over 850 languages spoken in Papua New Guinea, the main request is for Bibles in Tok Pisin, the widely spoken trade language.
Recently, in addition to selling hundreds of Bibles, Michael also sold solar-powered audio Bibles and the Jesus film on DVD.
Intrigued to find out what was fuelling the demand, I joined Michael, fellow pilot Mathias Glass and Communications Officer Mandy Glass on a pilot training flight to Nungwaia for the day.
'Each night of the week something is happening at the church. Monday: Youth night, Tuesday: Women’s Group, Wednesday: Men’s Group, Thursday and Friday nights are family nights, and Saturday and Sunday we have different worship services.' Matias Titus
Arriving at Nungwaia, we headed along a dirt path into the village escorted by a throng of villagers and MAF airstrip agent, Mark Titus and his brother Matias Titus.
It was heart-warming to meet teachers and children at the community’s elementary school. The children were excited to demonstrate their skills and display their work. We shared scripture and presented the school with a Bible and a globe before continuing on our visit.
My mind was overwhelmed with the sense that there was something different about the people we were meeting. Love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Those were the words that were touching my spirit.
'I really see a change in the congregations. The Christian lives of those who read the Bible is getting stronger... men have stopped drinking and smoking drugs...' Matias Titus
Our quest to learn about the hunger for Bibles, brought us to a thatched-roof shelter where Pastor Ezekiel greeted us with other members of the community. Before we knew it, the box of Bibles we brought was sold out. Pastor Ezekiel was keen to explain why.
'For us, the Bible contains the powerful Word of God and it gives life to those who read it!' Pastor Ezekiel explained. 'When they get a Bible and consume the Word of God, many have turned their backs on past behaviours like fighting, murder, adultery, wife-beating, smoking brus (tobacco), spak-brus (marijuana), drinking beer or poisoning people. They have given up old habits, renounced sinful ways and found joy in their new life,' he said.
'The people at Nungwaia buy all the Bibles that come with the MAF pilots. That shows that they are hungry for the Word of God.' Pastor Ezekiel
'Focus is on family life and walking with the Lord through the Bible,' Pastor Ezekiel shares, expanding on the impact he can see in the community. 'Our need of people wanting Bibles has increased - many people have received the Lord as their Master and Saviour. The leaders and pastors read the Bible and pray over sick people and they are healed.'
'Nungwaia community is experiencing revival just like the one recorded in Acts chapter 2,' Pastor Ezekiel continues. 'More people are coming to know God, and they will need more Bibles! The people at Nungwaia buy all the Bibles that come with the MAF pilots. That just shows that lives have been changed and that they are hungry for the Word of God.'
Ministering to mothers
Wow! We had found our answer, but it didn’t end there. As the last of the Tok Pisin audio Bibles were sold, a woman picked up the story:
'The mothers of Nungwaia community are so excited about the audio Bibles,' she said. 'Many mothers do not know how to read, and even if they did, it may take many hours and they would hardly understand or figure out what they have read.
'Some have bad eyesight,' she reports. 'The Bible Radio is our chance to hear God’s Word, when we are busy cooking, or when we work in the garden; we can carry it around, wherever we go.
'The Bible Radio is our chance to hear God’s Word, when we are busy cooking, or when we work in the garden; we can carry it around, wherever we go.' Nungwaia mother
'We wish every mother could own an audio Bible for herself. This also helps the children who do not know how to read. When the Bible speaks to them, they listen attentively. It has songs and some Sunday School lessons on it too.
'Thank you so much for this great resource! It has greatly helped us mothers and we are so grateful.'
Medical and spiritual care
At the health clinic we chat with five nurses who thank MAF for the many flights they provide. It had been an especially busy month with the medical evacuation of four patients in critical condition.
Here too, we found the nurses were involved in Bible Ministry – helping patients get access to the Word of God. Nurse Maureen shared how 'Many patients from the surrounding communities come will leave their Bible money with Nurse Shirley to buy Bibles from MAF pilots and come back to Nungwaia to pick up their Bible at a later date.'
And it’s not just Bibles that MAF has been able to bring. Boxes of medical supplies are frequently unloaded from the plane - although the nurses have been known walk 6-7 hours to the nearest bus stop, before travelling another 8 hours to Wewak to fetch the medical supplies they need. They literally go the extra miles to ensure their patients receive the services they need.
'Something BIG SPIRITUALLY is happening in Nungwaia! Each time I land there I sell-out of Bibles, I’m selling hundreds! Michael Dupuis
A united Church
As we walked back towards the airstrip, we passed a big church building where Matias explained the services are now blessed by an incredible unity. 'Now there’s no tribal fighting or debating, no divisions; people aren’t afraid of other tribes, so many are coming freely,' he said.
'Each night of the week something is happening at the church. Monday: Youth night, Tuesday: Women’s Group, Wednesday: Men’s Group, Thursday and Friday nights are family nights, and Saturday and Sunday we have different worship services.
'For special services like Christmas and Easter, the four smaller communities come to worship with us. For these combined services, there isn’t enough room for everyone inside the church, so people sit outside on the grass.'
As we wait for the plane to land, Matias Titus shared more about his role as General Secretary for the churches in the area.
'Over the past months,' he said, 'I have bought at least 10 cartons of Bibles. People entrust their money to me and then I give the Bibles to the local churches for the pastors to hand to his congregation members. As people read their Bibles and repent, they want more Bibles. I need MAF to bring in more Bibles, the demand is so huge. Every time I plead with the pilot to bring more!
'I really see a change in the congregations. The Christian lives of those who read the Bible is getting stronger. We no longer have any of the bigger issues; men have stopped drinking and smoking drugs, realising the Bible is true and full of good advice, also in regard to family and marriage problems.'
Bring more Bibles!
MAF Agent Mark describes himself as a 'Bible agent for the community,' underlining the point made repeatedly throughout the day. ‘We the need for more Bibles! I get requests from individual people, health workers, and teachers at Nungwaia who all are asking for Bibles,' he said.
'Via radio I pass the message on to the MAF Pilot at Wewak to bring Bibles. As soon as the pilot lands, all the Bibles are gone in seconds because they have been bought in advance. So, on behalf of the community, as a Bible agent at Nungwaia, I ask MAF to bring in more Bibles!'
'I need MAF to bring in more Bibles, the demand is so huge. Every time I plead with the pilot to bring more!' Matias Titus