Pictured above is our good friend Nuseme (pronounced Nu-séh-may) with his mom, Mapian.
He is crippled in both feet, but is known for being a very hard worker. He helps many people with their gardens, and he helped us put bamboo walls on our house a year ago.
Last week, news of his death reached our village. Evidently, he was hiking about 10 miles north of us when he became seriously ill. The news hit everyone hard, but his mother most of all. She is a widow and Nuseme is her only son. She ran through the village weeping as she spread the word. Unfortunately, there were not many people around to grieve with her. Mawerero has been a ghost town as many have left to attend to their coffee and vanilla gardens high in the mountains. All the village leaders had left the week before to do some work in the town of Madang.
When I heard the news, I was sitting with Bobby, an elderly gentlemen who is blessed to have gardens close to the village. He was given the responsibility of gathering some men to carry Nuseme’s body from the village of Rusuang (where he fell ill) back to Mawerero. This was no easy task at a time when most able-bodied men were gone. I felt sorry for Bobby, and I wanted to offer to help, but I’d be of little use on the steep, slippery trails.
We started to talk about who might be able to go with him. And then Nuseme walked into the village. Cries of joy and shock could be heard throughout the village as people realized that Nuseme was actually still alive. Evidently, Nuseme was so sick that many assumed he would die, but then he unexpectedly recovered. And thus, news of his impending death happened to reach Mawerero just a few hours ahead of Nuseme himself. His situation had indeed seemed dire and hopeless, but it was not his day to die.
Now I told you that story to tell you this one…
The day before Nuseme’s astonishing return, Cassidy flew from Mawerero to Goroka in the highlands in order to visit a small missionary clinic run by New Tribes Mission (whose name has now changed to Ethnos 360 evidently). It was her first prenatal appointment. And the news was mostly positive, but with a good dose of uncertainty thrown into the mix. The doctors were able to rule out some possible complications such as a tubal pregnancy or twins. But the baby was measuring smaller than the eight weeks we were expecting. And it was too small to see much or to find a heartbeat. That being said, everything seemed healthy enough to send Cassidy back to us. So now we wait to see if the baby will continue to live and grow… or not. The Lord knows. And not merely because he is aware of the future, but because he planned it.
Like Nuseme and our little one, our lives are governed by God. And his sovereign care is not distant or disconnected, but proximate and personal. King David worships God by declaring: “For you formed by inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made… In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:13, 16). God forms each of us, he forms each day, and he allots how many of those days are for us. Before any of us were conceived, God already had all our days written down… every one of them.
This reality leads us to pray. First, to thank God for the lives of Nuseme and baby Cann! He formed both of them. And as far as we know, he continues to sustain both their lives. And we can trust that he knows all their days. We rejoice that their stories are not yet finished.
Second, this leads us to pray that God would cause them to be born again to a living hope! Life without hope and joy in Jesus Christ is no life at all. We are all dead in our sins. We all are born loving other things beside Jesus. We are all born loving darkness rather than light. But Jesus, the righteous, died for the unrighteous that he might bring them to God! Through Christ we can have peace with God instead of wrath from God! Oh Lord, save Nuseme and our kids and all our friends here in Mawerero and those who are reading this! Dear reader, do not be hardened and destroyed by the deceitfulness of finding your hope and joy in anything or anyone but God. May today be the day of your salvation! None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. And if God does grant you another day, like he did for Nuseme, know that it because God is merciful and patient, desiring that none should perish!
If this is your hope already, please join us in praying for Nuseme and those in the Ndo language group. The good news of Jesus Christ, slain for sinners, has yet to be preached plainly in their language. As I finished typing this blog entry, I heard them strike the village bell with the long, slow reverberating ring of the death toll. It was for a dear old man named Awate. Pray that God would not close the book on many more lives here before they can hear the good news and be born again to an imperishable hope!