8.11.19 – Anita’s Fathers Village destroyed

This Sunday at Jubilee we remembered our brothers and sisters in Christ who are today persecuted for their faith. All over the world people’s freedom are removed, their homes taken, lives endangered and every form of persecution committed simply because they believe in Jesus Christ. We heard from Anita, one of our members at JCC, whose family village in Papa New Guinea has been destroyed. It was powerful to hear Anita’s story, pray as a Church for restoration and give a gift to begin the rebuilding work in Bagl.

Here is Anita’s story:

My children and I: Our introduction to JCC.

I’m going to tell a little bit about myself and how I came to be a part of the JCC family – which was only few weeks ago.

I was formally welcomed to the JCC family only few weeks ago. However, my connection with JCC goes back to 2014.

The reason I am telling my personal story first is because it has a correlation I believe with the devastation story of my father’s village in Papua New Guinea.

I was homeless once with my three young children and at the time my youngest was only 2 years old. Not only can I understand people going through divorces and offer support but also that journey has drawn me a lot closer to God. In the same way, I believe my father’s village destruction is such that my village people shall repent of their sins and humble themselves to God for the forgiveness of their sins for their ultimate salvation. 2 Chronicles 7:14(NIV) 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

It is incredible how God works because during the midst of my homelessness, it was members and the leadership of JCC (Laurence and Rochelle Evans) who assisted us out of one temporary accommodation to another and they didn’t even know me and my children nor my situation – but they came to our rescue because one of their JCC church members had alerted them of our dilemma  –  back in 2014. They came because someone from JCC saw me break down on a Friday night in East Grinstead town. Since that date in 2014, I still hadn’t come to JCC even though Rochelle had kindly invited me to a Friday night Glow for my children which were the only time we came. Up until then I was faithful to my last church so stayed on for another four years until December of 2017 when I started coming to JCC through a visiting friend.

I found that it is through big problems that the penny finally drops (at least it did for me) – is when you really see life and situations for what they really are.  There is that saying ‘…if you are not experiencing any problems in your Christian life, you have to check yourself and ask yourself, ‘Is my Christian life ok? ‘… Because it is through problems that I really saw the hand of God.  This verse in John 16:33 hold true and comforting for me where Jesus said verse 14  These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you [a]will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  When we know that our messiah has overcome the world – we know the battle isn’t ours to fight but it is His. That makes all the difference and changes everything and every perspective – either you drown in the problem or you rise above it.

John 16:33 is a pivotal verse to my father’s and his people in Papua New Guinea at this time. They are taking comfort from these verse and the words in the book of Nehemiah as well. I share with them often.

I truly feel  JCC is in the real business of serving and planting seeds in the community and extending the love locally but for me to be given the opportunity to talk about a problem that is 1000’s of miles away on the other side of the world where it is spiritually and physically dark right now is telling of the work JCC is doing – sharing God’s love far and wide.   It is touching lives and I am a testament to that – of how JCC came to my rescue with my 3 little children back in 2014. Little did I know that I would be standing here talking to yourselves about Papua New Guinea.  That is a miracle in itself.  I want to say thank you to the Evans for your prayers that saw us eventually settle in our own home 8 months after that first encounter with yourselves. God is doing great things though JCC and I am ever so thankful to the Lord that I am now a part of the JCC family.

My Father’s Village: Bagl Village

The history about this village is that – my father founded this village on the word of God. He built his Lutheran church there.

My children and I just visited this village this summer holidays. On our return to the UK, two weeks later, the entire village was burnt to the ground. 51 houses total.

On the night of the devastation, something quite incredible happened. I rang my father in a panic, but he immediately answered my call. He was trying to escape. During that conversation, without being insensitive, I asked dad if I could express something the holy spirit put on my heart. I told him that I had total peace. I wasn’t expecting the same response but my dad replied, that he was feeling exactly the same. That was incredible considering, everyone had run for their lives and there was total chaos.  There was only one (1) death and 2 gun wound injuries reported on the day. There had been previous serious life threatening injuries before this day also months earlier. So from then I knew God is doing something with my father and his village people. I believe something great is going to come out of this. I have been praying that restoration will be of a physical village and a spiritual restoration of lives lost to sin.

The PNG tribal setup…

My father’s Village is called ’Bagl Village’.  The village is not far from the township of Mt Hagen which is supposed to be the 3rd city of Papua New Guinea.  The town is going through a difficult time both physically and spiritual darkness.

Tribal warfare’s can be started for any number of reasons; mostly land related. PNG has 800+languages, and equal number of different traditional cultures. Within each of the 800+languages, are tribes, clans and sub-clans which are made up of family units. Clans and sub-clans live mostly in the same village but some can live in different villages.

What happened is between two families within the same sub-clan in a different village which escalated and spilled over into my father’s village because he chose to host a displaced family from that original village in trouble.

Even though a lot of aggression and even life threatening injuries were sustained by my father’s village people even before the burning of the village, and now without homes, they are still choosing to forgive and not take up arms for revenge. They said to me – they are giving it to God and looking to God for their help. I am Intouch with them regularly and encouraging them to not take up arms – especially the young men from the village who are wrestling to refrain.

The conflict was started in another village where one influential family forcefully tried to take land from another smaller in size family – bullying this small family into giving up their land. When this small family refused, and took the matter to court over this land, and in the process when a son from the more influential family died for a completely different reason, this small family was accused. The smaller families homes were set fire to, livestock/animals killed and gardens destroyed and they were threatened so that family fled to my father’s village which is considered safe and also because a lot of the families from my father’s village are believers.

In my father’s village alone there are six (6) different Christian churches; in particular there are   two (2) Lutheran churches (one of which is my father’s church),  a Seventh Day Adventist Church, a Pentecostal church , a Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall and  a PNG Bible Church.

Even with that many churches in one village, only the old are active in church and the majority of young people engage in illegal activities resulting in; tribal violence, crime and gun violence (guns are now being smuggled in by wealthy men who use young men high on drugs for cash to pursue their causes using violence to fight warfare usually to gain land and property by force. This is what caused that family to flee their home to my father’s village.

My Plan…

My ultimate aim is for my father’s village to become a model village in Papua New Guinea based on prayer and the word of God and living in forgiveness. This is a continuation of how they have been throughout this problem. Also a continuation of an initiative that was started for them before it’s burning down for other villages to emulate & make God the centre of it all.  The problems in my country Papua New Guinea are too many. So these are the things I’d like to be prayed for short, medium and long term restoration;

  1. Short term immediate needs are blankets, mattress, cooking pots and pans and gardening tools, drinking water containers and solar lights and torches.
  2. Medium term …raise funds for – provision of accommodation using skills of young men in village to build traditional huts, and some semi modern houses like shanty town houses and modern houses for some who lost modern houses. For that they will need a saw mill to make their own timber. My idea is to invest in a timber petrol walkabout saw mill.
  3. Long term. Complete rebuilding physically and spiritually and make this village a model village – to roll out the concepts into other villages if this proof a success in things like self-sustainability projects, the gospel be preached with prayer and the word forming the foundation of the project hence the village and beyond.

There were 51 houses and of them, 5 belong to the perpetrators. My plan is to include those 5 houses in the rebuild project to show God’s love to them too. Some of their immediate needs have been met by neighbouring tribes and clans who have taken them in. Sadly there has been no government involvement or intervention due to corruption and also there was no media coverage – due to fear of retaliation by the perpetrators so the villagers are on their own. The villager’s themselves are praying and putting their hope and trust in Christ for theirs and the entire village’s restoration. Therefore they are relying on our prayers too. I’m praying that this problem will not over-come them

Thank you so much to JCC church  family for  giving me this opportunity to share about my father’s village and for the prayers.  Much appreciated .

Anita Thomas.

*Note: I have setup a gofundme page. If you wish,  you can Click on this link to go to the village gofundme page : Help restore my Papua New Guinea village burnt to ashes