‘When baby Lazarus was born, he died three times and had to be resuscitated. Hence, he was given the name Lazarus,’ explains MAF’s Lois Semanison.
Story by Lois Semanison. Photos by Lois Semanison, Hudson Higlett, Gemma Meeks, Mandy Glass and Sally Lloyd.
‘Sometime later, we were doing hospital outreach in the ward where there are mothers and babies. And there was Lazarus, sick, looked after by his mother. So we prayed for him and he became well.’
‘He has since come sometimes to my Friday kids group with his brothers,’ Lois updates. ‘He is about two now and is starting to sing some of the songs with us. He is active and curious. A precious little boy!
Lois spends her time, while husband Neal, an aircraft engineer, is hard at work in the MAF hangar, blessing the community in Mount Hagen where they live.
More than anything, she desires to be a living witness to the love and care of a Heavenly Father, who doesn’t want a single one of his sheep to go astray.
To this end Lois employs her time and 31 years’ experience as a social worker to encourage the struggling and the vulnerable, meeting them where they’re at.
‘For such a time as this - we are here.’ Lois Semanison
Lois embarked on her ministry just eight days into her language training - throwing herself into her ministry at a point when most are still grappling with the strangeness of a new environment and culture.
Lois shares, ‘Lillian, a national friend, and I would go once a week to share a Bible story with the children. I began to visit people in the hospital and about two and a half years ago, I started to visit the prison in town as well.’
‘God did something miraculous in her life!’Lois Semanison
Lois’s ministry grew with every need she’s encountered. ‘I have a group of kids that meet in my house on Friday afternoons where I share a Bible story, songs, a craft and some food. I have as few as nine and as many as 17 children coming.’
‘In addition, I have devotions with the compound guards every morning, and I provide meals for the guards. I have made friends with a number of nationals, so I have many visitors.’
Special care for mums and babies
On Mondays at noon, we go to the hospital. Our first stop is usually the special care nursery for premature babies and those with special needs. There can be up to 12 babies at any one time.
'I almost broke down as I shared how Jesus took our shame and sin upon Himself
so we could know God's forgiveness.' Lois Semanison
The needs are practical as well as spiritual. ‘We try to take onesies and maybe soap and tracts and sometimes bananas. Everything depends on how much money I have or on what others bring.
‘We read Scripture with the ladies and pray with them. Sometimes I even have pictures made by my Friday group kids to give them.’
Only 1 in 8 saved
‘Some time ago, I was visiting a woman who needed to have surgery to repair fistula. The bed next to this woman had a woman who along with 7 other women were going to have hysterectomies. I spoke with this woman and prayed with her.
‘One day as we were coming out of the hospital, she approached me at the gate. She told me that the day we had prayed before the surgery, she had confessed her sins and forgiven those she needed to forgive. She is the only one who survived the operation. The others all perished,’ Lois remarked, sadly.
For the single survivor on the women’s ward, the opportunity to encounter Jesus was life-changing. ‘I run into her from time to time at the market. She just glows and we hug. God did something miraculous in her life!’
Crutches and care
‘I just took the pair of crutches that Hudson, one of the other MAF ladies, got from the second-hand store. The man who needed them was in a car accident. He has had skin grafts and a rod inserted in his leg. He expects to be in hospital for two more weeks in a ward with many other accident victims.
One young man is unable to walk and desperately needs a wheelchair. Sadly, the hospital has no crutches or wheelchairs.’
‘This photo shows a little boy in the hospital who was very excited to receive a Jesus colouring book. In the background you can see the pastor. He fell down a cliff and has been in the hospital for four or five months. He had surgery, and the nurse said it did not go well. She said he would be in the hospital for four more weeks. We have some crutches for him that were bought by another missionary. He believes God has him there for a purpose.’
‘Nirmala, another MAF spouse, and I visited Lina and Jos from Huya in the Hagen Hospital. Lina was flown to Mount Hagen by MAF from an area where there’s just a small hospital and no road access. She has been given a blood transfusion but unfortunately, there isn’t much they can do for her chronic renal failure.
‘We were able to take them some food items and medevac packs. Lina and Jos have three boys aged 12, 3, and 1, who are being cared for by their grandmother. We have visited twice and read the Bible and prayed with the Christian couple. They may be returned to Huya next week where there’s no dialysis.
‘It is important to give the gift of presence and most of all encouragement from the Lord. For such a time as this - we are here,’ Lois adds poignantly.
Adding colour to life
‘When we have the Jesus colouring books we give them out to kids in the wards, sitting around outside and in the waiting room, along with colouring pencils and tracts. When we have Bibles in Tok Pisin and English, we give them out too.
‘Sometimes I have reading glasses for those who need them as well. There are thousands of people in the hospital and outpatients, so our resources only go so far.’
‘We bought things like slip-on-shoes and blankets for those evacuated from the earthquake area. Other needs included pillows, blankets and clothes. There are so many stories.’
‘We need onesies and little caps for the babies, baby blankets and clothes for the mothers. We can buy large blankets and pillows in the second hand store and also onesies, but the need is always greater than the money available to buy them.'
‘If adjustable crutches could be sent that would be wonderful. Wheelchairs are needed as well. The need for crutches and wheel chairs far exceeds the local supply.’
‘During school holidays, a couple of young boys Anderson (age 10) and Tiger (age 6), joined my outreach. The boys loved being part of the team!
‘At the hospital, we handed out cards made by the kids. Getting kids involved in caring for others is a good thing.’
‘Six-year-old Tiger often accompanies his grandmother as we do outreach in the prison and hospital. The prisoners like him a lot.
‘On July 4, Tiger gave his heart to Jesus right here in our house. I made a picture sign for him with the date, so he could remember his spiritual birthday.
‘Sometimes the kids sing with me for the prisoners. They help give out the items we have brought for them. I have even asked Tiger to pray. His voice is very soft, but it is touching to see him involved.’
'While sharing Scriptures with the prisoners recently, I almost broke down as I shared how Jesus took our shame and sin upon Himself so we could know God's forgiveness.
'I noticed one prisoner looking down as I shared. This week, I am happy to report that two prisoners prayed with us to receive this gift of salvation personally.
'God has been providing English Bibles and Tok Pisin Bibles in unexpected ways. Some Bibles we have obtained are designed especially for prisoners.
'Another tool is sharing written testimonies of prisoners who have had their lives changed by the Saviour.'
Life behind bars
Life behind bars is tough as Lois explains. ‘The prisoners are put in cages with no blankets or beds, only a hole for a toilet and no steady water supply. They often have only the clothes they came in wearing.
'As we have been able, we have addressed some of the needs for blankets, clothes, soap, Bibles, tracts, reading glasses, a scone (yeast roll) and a sweet treat.
'The prisoners are given rice once a day. Sometimes they come from places very far from here, and have no one to help them with personal needs.'
Love without judgement
‘The children in my Friday group in our apartment sometimes make cards or pictures for the prisoners or for those hospitalised.
‘The number of prisoners varies from 50 to 70. The population is constantly changing. We don’t ask what their charges are, respecting their privacy, but sometimes hear from other sources like a newspaper report.
'It has been my joy to have former prisoners stop me in town and tell me that I had visited them while they were incarcerated. Some have surrendered their lives to Jesus, and their whole lives have turned around. I feel like dancing in praise to the LORD!
Testimonies of grace
'I was purchasing petrol for the MAF car that I use, and I had some tracts with me so I handed them to the man serving while I was waiting.
'The man serving me told me he had been in prison when I visited and had read the pamphlet I had given him. He made a change in his life and now he has this job. God is amazing. His Word changes lives!
'During one of our hospital outreaches, there was a man all bandaged up waiting on a bench. He said, ‘You visited me in the prison last week and gave me toothpaste.’ He also said he had decided to turn to the LORD.'
'Yu gat kek?' (Do you have cake?)
'I bake a lot of chocolate banana cakes and share them with guards, market ladies who generously give me extra, and the assortment of people who come to our gate. Well, I guess the word is out!
'The other day, while I was getting the car filled up with petrol, I decided to give out tracts. There was a small bus, and I went over and gave the driver and passengers each one. A woman by the door asked me: ‘Yu gat kek?’ Well, no, not this time. I guess the word is out about the cake, and it made me 'laff’ (laugh).
The opportunities abound.
Thank You LORD that we can be here for such a time as this. Thank you all for partnering with us in this venture. God is doing amazing things in the lives of people. Lois Semanison