Thursday, April 16, 2009

When my parents first moved into the tribal area where they now work, there was no established village.  Our closest neighbors were the shaman priest and his family who lived up the mountain.  His children were some of my first playmates and I probably met his son, Ndolu, when I was around 2-3 years old.  

I wish I had one of his first pictures to show you.  If it weren't for the loincloth he was wearing, he would have looked like a girl with long, wild hair.  Dad hired him to do basic yard work, teaching him throughout the years how to work with electricity, solar panels, generators, water systems, etc...  He became like a son to my parents and a brother to us kids.  Through the course of time and Bible teaching, he came to know and love the Lord.  He was one of the few unmarried male believers in the young church and he fell in love with a godly young woman.  It wasn't an easy road for them.  His father opposed the marriage because his older brother was already married to her older sister.  He didn't want to, yet again, give bride price to this other clan, making their families even more connected.  I remember the young couple having agonized conversations with my parents about what to do.  It is extremely common for couples to just run away and get married elsewhere to avoid these problems, but my father and mother encouraged them to honor their parents.  If I'm not mistaken, Ndolu waited seven years before his father gave him permission to marry!  Mom and I made a huge wedding cake to celebrate their union.  

Ndolu changed his name to Petrus (meaning 'Peter' which has the same meaning as his tribal name - "A Rock").  He and his wife attended the New Tribes Mission national Bible school and missionary training then returned to minister in the tribe.  His main focus was evangelizing another village and leading people to the Lord there.  He also reluctantly took on the job of village chief when no one else stepped up to the roll.

Petrus holding a paper with signatures petitioning the church to send an evangelist to a new village across the island.  He felt deeply burdened by their need of the Lord.

For the past couple of years, Petrus has been suffering from a chronic kidney condition.  He has continued his ministry despite much pain and finally he had a chance to return to the city and get his condition checked by doctors.  He left his pregnant wife and four children for a few weeks to see if he could get medical help.  Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be much the doctors could do for him and a couple of weeks ago, he headed back home on a boat with another man from the tribe.

In the course of the dark night, their boat was hit by a large, passenger boat causing it to tip precariously.  The boat righted itself, though seriously damaged, but Petrus was missing.  We don't know if he jumped over in fear of the boat capsizing or if he was knocked off, but after several days of searching, he was not found.   It seems that he was called HOME.

This is such a "Why God??" situation.  His wife is due to give birth any day now, he has a family dependent on him, a thriving ministry, a whole life ahead of him and yet from this freak accident, he is gone.  It is so hard to understand, but a verse that I stumbled across a few days after the search was called off comforted me:

Precious in the sight of the LORD 
       is the death of his saints.
Psalm 116:15

It reminded me that God's perspective is so different from mine.  While I look at life as the span between birth and death, God's view is not as narrow.  God sees His saints' death as precious because through the blood of Christ, they can now enter His presence and know Him fully as He desires to be knows. This time on earth is a mere blip and I believe we won't truly experience LIFE until we die and enter the presence of our Lord.  Petrus is more ALIVE now than he ever was.  Of course we grieve with his loved ones.  As a body we feel each other's pain of loss and we are called to comfort one another, but what peace and joy we can have in remembering that Jesus is welcoming His precious child Home - and some day we will join Petrus there, rejoicing in the Lord.

Comments (1)

On April 19, 2009 at 2:12 AM , Anna said...

Thanks for the update and reminder that no matter how differently things go from what we expected-God is always lovingly in control. I've been praying for his poor wife. How is she doing? I can't imagine how difficult it must be--especially with a baby coming so soon.