If there is such a thing as a perfect tropical evening, last night was it. Debbie Goro, Pastor Magi’s wife, made Jim and me a traditional PNG kaikai (like a luau). Rice, taro, chicken curry, boiled bananas, something-like-spinach boiled in coconut and and fresh papaya. It was about 80 degrees as we sat on their outdoor (bug-free) upper deck with a fan-provided breeze. They told us story after story — family, small village life, Port Moresby city slums, history, miracles, and their own Jesus stories. Magi showed us his grandfather’s handmade arrows, which were actually used for hunt and battle. I wish all of you could meet them. They are so inspiring. Their love for the people of PNG just pours out of them.

Magi has a water ministry. He is a well-driller by trade and a pastor by calling. He is a missionary to street kids, sharing Jesus and testifying of his own transformation. He plants churches wherever he drills a well – about 50 so far. His first pastor assignment was in the worst and most frightening neighborhood of the Port Moresby slums, because he was from there and would go where others were afraid to go. Some of the boys from these streets become pastor-drillers. Jim and I will be working with a crew of ten such men as we train them in ways to provide clean water to poor villages.

img_6909With the exception of Port Moresby, PNG is a mountainous island nation made up of rural clan villages. Over 800 languages are spoken here. Pidgin is the universal trade language. Many of the villages are very primitive, though you can find mobile phones in the most far flung quarters. As you can imagine, PNG is going through rapid change. It is listed as a Christian nation (as is America, of course), but it really is not. People might identify as Christians, but transformed lives are an exception. There is a lot of ancestor worship, animism and various forms of witchcraft. Foursquare has been a powerful force here. People respect our pastors, even if the villagers themselves don’t follow Jesus.
Unfiltered (left) and filtered (right) water

When the Port Moresby slums were broken up people scattered to the surrounding hills in makeshift jungle villages. The transition to rural life was hard and a lot of people died from disease and violence. Typhoid, cholera and other water-born diseases took many lives, especially among infants. When we came here last May there was a terrible drought. Magi couldn’t dig enough wells fast enough with his ailing drill-rig, which spent more time being repaired than drilling. People were drinking dirty surface water (polluted creeks, rivers and ponds) and Magi’s heart was breaking. He spoke of being in the villages with moms who were hopeless to save their babies. Clean water is expensive to buy here. People make hard choices. The alternatives many embraced is to walk for miles to get water from a trusted source. Even if they are 95% careful, they make compromises when they are thirsty and cannot make the trek.

img_6941We were able to introduce him to the sawyer bucket filters (BTW, our children’s ministry funded about 250 of them for PNG at last summer’s day camp!). These have become a short-term solution that can be rapidly deployed in places where he could not yet drill. Jim and I brought a bag full of them (we sent 150 via another pastor who we met at Convention last summer). We also brought a very cool lightweight REI tent so the men could be deployed remotely and not need to drive back to town each night. Magi is empowering pastors. They bring clean water for physical life and Living Water for eternal life! He is training his men to go into the villages and works with the leaders to show them how they can change the situation.
We went with Magi to one such village and watched him demonstrate the use of the filter. Jim and I will provide additional training on other ways they can broaden water sources and guarantee pure drinking water. It is a privilege to be here working with such amazing people.

About marknicklas

Mark Nicklas is a husband, father, son and follower of Jesus Christ. He is a pastor at Beaverton Foursquare Church and an adjunct professor at Multnomah University, where he earned his doctorate in Cultural Engagement. Like Jacob wrestled with God at Jabbok, this site is a place for talking about the identity of the church with respect to the cultures we live in. You are invited to share the journey.
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