To watch a sunrise over the Highlands in New Guinea Territory is to witness a prophecy in parable. How quickly the shades of night disappear as day begins. Soon the whole area is ablaze with light. How different those dense valleys appear in daylight. And how different are the people when the truth of God has illumined their darkened minds.
For centuries those stone-age tribes have been untouched by civilization. New Guinea is sometimes referred to as "the land that time forgot." But it is not forgotten now. Take the plane with me to Wabag. As our pilot skims the tops of those jagged mountains we begin to wonder whether we will ever find a landing spot. What forbidding jungles these are! But now we see some native homes—crude homes with thatched roofs. The marks of civilization are here. And now the runway appears. It is not a long one, for how could it be in these parts?
Missionary H. M. Pascoe meets us in his Land Rover, and we make our way out to the very first Christian mission established in all of this area. It is interesting to note that Adventists were the first to establish gospel work in this section of the Territory. Since then other missionary groups have come in, but we were the pioneers. From our Lutheran friends and Roman Catholics, as well as Baptists, have come some fine missionaries to these mountain regions.
It was a wonderful privilege for your editor to visit some of these primitive areas recently and to witness the way God's work is being done. Here are men and women, at the risk of their lives, pushing back into the rough interior where Europeans have never before set foot, even where the dreaded Kukukuku's have their headquarters, a people still practicing cannibalism. From there I brought a stone ax, a weapon used in their tribal wars, and was assured by Missionary Ormond Speck that this had killed many men. It seems hard to believe that, although so close to Australia, hideous practices are still carried on among these primitive tribes. But the inspiring thing is that from these darkened areas of earth marvelous trophies of the grace of God are finding their place as jewels in the crown of our Lord.
Indigenous evangelism in action is always inspiring. How quickly these people learn and how eager many are to drop their heathen ways! The Cessna plane on our cover, in which we traveled over some of these wild places, is a replica of one recently donated to our work there in New Guinea. This will greatly aid in the proclamation of our message, for many places are impassable and no plane larger than this can be used.
We traveled by Land Rover jeep, plane, and canoe. Making our way up to Boroia near the Sepik border we preached at two outpost villages where no one other than a few from nearby tribes had ever visited. Into this isolated spot our missionary went only recently to bring the light of the gospel.
How happy those natives were to see us. We took our place in their canoe, and with broad smiles on their faces they paddled us to our destination. (See front cover.) There we found a newly established congregation with a fine building—native construction, of course, but it was crowded with eager people. The whole tribe had gathered. The radiant faces of those men who guided us to this outpost were evidence of the real joy in their hearts. Not only do we have a fine congregation but we have also a clinic with a good Adventist "doctor boy" in charge. This is but one of many such gospel clinics. These "doctor boys" are a wonderful link in the whole evangelistic program.
Here is the Master's method: teaching, preaching, and healing. That is the way Jesus worked, and that is the way our missionaries are opening up work in the Territory. It is challenging but thrilling. The "forgotten land" has become one of the most inspiring mission fields of the world.
In the words of the well-known hymn by Samuel Smith, a scholarly Baptist missionary who went to Burma 130 years ago, we say:
The morning light is breaking, the darkness disappears;
The sons of earth are waking to penitential tears;
Each breeze that sweeps the ocean brings tidings from afar
Of nations in commotion, prepared for Zion's war.
See heathen nations bending before the God we love,
And thousand hearts ascending in gratitude above;
While sinners, now confessing, the gospel call obey,
And seek the Saviour's blessing, a nation in a day.
Blest river of salvation, pursue thine onward way;
Flow thou to every nation, nor in thy richness stay —
Stay Stay not till all the lowly, triumphant reach their home;
Stay not till all the holy proclaim, "The Lord is come!"
And what an inspiration it will be when with our work done we will witness the gathering in of the final harvest. From the north, from the south, from the east, from the west, from the cold regions of the Arctic and scorching lands along the equator they came, a mighty host saved by the power of the gospel and each one an heir of the kingdom and a member of the family of God. Together we will sing the song of Moses and the Lamb saying: "Great and marvellous are Thy works Lord God Almighty." This is our goal.
R. A. A