Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man shall attack you to harm you' " (Acts 18:10, R.S.V.).
Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach. He has given no command to stop. When the church is advancing too fast it will be time enough to look for safe men, men of caution. There is no need to put on the brake when going uphill. Our danger is not sensationalism but stagnation. We must go and preach.
I have just had the privilege of conducting evangelistic schools throughout the Solomons, New Britain, and Manus Islands. The ministers here are aflame for God and the winning of souls for Him. The leaders there are evangelistically-minded and the same zeal passes down to the field workers. They continue to speak and are not silent. This is in the face of opposition, yes, and persecution.
Murder Provokes Love
In the Talasea area of New Britain, Roman Catholic opposition has been strong. Many of our native ministers have been beaten, and a European missionary had his nose broken. Pastor James Pokarup was cruelly beaten, but with the love of Christ in his heart he refused to be silenced, so a group of Catholic teachers forced food mixed with battery acid down his three year-old son's throat. The little fellow died in agony. The district officer wanted to take action, but Pastor Pokarup refused. Christ had forgiven him so he must forgive his enemies and further he said, "It will not bring back my little boy. I want to win them, not punish them." Love for enemies and forgiveness are real in the hearts of these converted sons of savages. I sat under the palms as the Pacific waves thundered onto white coral sand as he told me his story. I looked into his dark, tear-filled eyes as he told me of his desire to win them for his Lord and not to punish them. What was the result? "We baptized more than four hundred Catholics there," Pokarup told me. A letter just received from him tells of his continued zeal for Christ. He is pioneering another island field. 0 that Christ could put more of that forgiving love into our proud hearts.
A Fish-powered Boat
Pastor Joseph Kalowin told his story. It happened in Bali, on Wednesday, March 4, 1964, in the same Talasea area. He and two others were waiting for the launch to take them down the coast to conduct the Wednesday night prayer meeting. Since it was delayed, the three set out by outrigger canoe. Soon it was dark as they paddled along the island coast. They lighted their lantern, hoping it would attract a fish or two. The sea was glassy calm, but soon Pastor Kalowin detected ripples that indicated canoes were passing on either side just outside the bright ring of light from their lantern. Soon the enemies made themselves known. Six canoes surrounded them. Two in front, one on each side, and two behind. They were filled with Catholics who said they were going to kill them. They would never be found and no one would know. Kalowin said he cried to Christ to hide them from their enemies. "Jesus, close their eyes and guide us," was his cry. The lantern was quickly extinguished and the paddles were driven into the water with the desperation of men paddling for life. Stones fell around them as they paddled. The race was fast and furious, but Christ who is always with those who "go . . . and teach" (as He promised in Matthew 28: 18-20) answered their cry for help and the "popes" (as Catholics call themselves in the South Pacific Islands) could not find them. Christ had hid His evangelists. Their enemies were searching in vain. Kalowin stood up in the canoe and thanked God for his deliverance. He said he felt weak. Danger was still very real. Suddenly they heard a rushing sound as though a great fish was coming toward them at high speed. They were afraid. It was a giant ray and it dived under their canoe and then slowly rose and lifted the vessel. The canoe was borne along at high speed. The great flaps of the giant ray looked, they said, "like the wings of an angel." Two or three miles were covered in a short time and then the great fish slowly sank into the ocean. They could tell by the current that they were at a gap in the reef, which they soon passed through. They conducted a meeting with the people in the village nearby, and the power of God was very evident as our evangelists spoke. The audience was in tears.
Converted Savages Show Forgiving Spirit
The next day the whole village wanted to go and fight the attackers. But forgiveness, not revenge, is the message of Christ. A report was made to the district officers to acquaint them with what was happening, but our men wanted no action taken against their would-be killers.
The devotion, self-control under extreme provocation, and forgiving spirit of these converted savages, was certainly a lesson to me. Christ in the heart is revealed in their lives.
We now have eight hundred members in that area. The Catholics have 8,000, but the latest word is that the priest in charge of that area reported that half of their people have become Seventh-day Adventists.
". . . Talk Is Too Big . . ."
Pastor Wilfred of Guadalcanal is now pioneering our work in New Ireland. The leader of a Protestant mission ordered him off the island. "Him all wrath," is the way a native described the mission leader. He ordered Pastor Wilfred, "You stop your work; I don't want any humbug around here." The pastor, as quiet and polite as the Christ He serves, replied, "This is not humbug; we are here to preach the gospel." "I'll do my utmost to have you driven out of this territory," fumed the European leader, but Wilfred quietly replied, "If you feel that that is what God has called you to the islands to do, you had better do it."
The Protestant missionary then began to ridicule Christ's second coming, the resurrection, the Ten Commandments, and the Sabbath. Wilfred asked for a text from the Bible for Sundaykeeping. "You don't need a commandment for everything; for instance where is the commandment to brush your teeth or comb your hair?" As the Protestant leader kept repeating this argument Wilfred answered, "Sir, I think you have gotten your wires crossed; you are mixing the way of men with the commandments of God."
"You will never make me a Seventh-day Adventist," he declared and Wilfred replied, "You are too small and your talk is too big. God can make a heathen into a saint. Yes, God can make a savage into a good Seventh-day Adventist and He can do the same for you."
Christ is not only with His evangelists to guide and protect them but also to enable them to speak a word in season, to say the right thing at the right time. He also guides in methods. For instance, Pastor Pulepada of Manus said he had had no training as a minister, he had no charts, pictures, projector, or slides. His only equipment was a Bible and a hymnbook. As he read the parables he got an idea. Schoolboys were trained to act the parables and he advertised his meetings, "Bible Movies." He said, "I had to chase all the Seventh-day Adventists out so I could get the others in."
The people became so interested that it was 11:30 P.M. before he could close. The meeting had begun about 6:30 P.M.
While out visiting, Pulepada called on an old man who had worked for the Germans when they held this territory prior to the first world war. The old man was now blind and bedridden. He had been thus for years and nobody ever visited him. Pulepada told him, "If Jesus was here He would visit you." This touched the old man's heart, tears were seen trickling down his cheeks. The Bible was read and explained to him on subsequent visits.
"I cannot give up smoking and chewing betel nut," he said, but victory through Christ was found by this blind, bedridden wreck. On learning about baptism he said, "I can't be baptized, I can't walk, I'm like a bundle of cotton. People will only laugh at me." When reminded that he was doing it in response to the command of the One who loved him and gave Himself for him, he decided to go all the way. A large number gathered for the baptism, many of them Roman Catholics, so Pulepada preached on true baptism. The blind invalid was taken out in a canoe, and two lifted him out and baptized him. His brother, a Catholic, as he listened to the sermon and witnessed the baptism, was convicted and requested baptism.
Pastor Sobusobu is associated with Pastor Pulepada, and in the words of the latter, "Pastor Sobusobu is a great man of prayer."
He felt impressed to pray all night for the recently baptized blind man. The result?
In four days the blind man could see and in two weeks he was walking. Sabbath by Sabbath, Brother Salabang walks to church, although he had not been able to see or walk for years.
Burning Like Fire
Jerry of Buka Island said, "Some say Buka is a beautiful island, but I say it is a dark island." Jerry had been a member of a Protestant church, but when he accepted the truth he attended the Jones Missionary College. At the year's end he returned to Buka for a vacation. As the chief-to-be he could take it easy and enjoy the privileges of his position. But as he told his experience he said, "I could not stop, something in my heart was burning like fire. I had to preach, so I prayed, 'Please, God, give me a chance to take worship in this village, where they worship on Sunday.' " That evening the teacher approached him. "Jerry, do you have a message for worship?" "Yes; I'm always ready to preach." Then he said, "The fire still burned in my heart, so I prayed, 'Please, God, give me a chance to preach in the church on Sunday.' " On the following Sunday the minister did not arrive, so at the last minute they requested, "Jerry, will you preach?" "Yes, I'm always ready to preach," Jerry answered.
"So I took my Bible and preached on the Sabbath," Jerry said and told them, "I'm your son, my uncle is Big Chief. My uncle has said, 'Jerry, you take my place as chief,' so I can tell you the truth, and this morning I'm telling you the truth. Sunday is not right. The law of God is unchangeable." Jerry explained that the practice in that church was for the deacon during the service to walk up and down the aisle with a long stick and hit on the head anyone found going to sleep. "I know," said Jerry, "for I've often experienced the stick myself, but this morning there was no need for the stick. They sat with their eyes staring and their mouths open."
After the sermon, Jerry's uncle asked, "Jerry, are you a teacher?" "No!" was the quick reply, "I'm an evangelist." "Well," said the uncle, "can you send us a teacher?" "I've a better idea," answered Jerry. "Give me your son and daughter. I'll take them to college and then send them back as teachers." The uncle consented. In the meantime the message of God is well established in that village and growing.
Driving Flies Away
Posubal of Manus was sent into Bougainville. This is a strong Catholic center. That church has 150 European missionaries besides many native teachers, although the population of Bougainville is only 10,000. Posubal found it hard; the people did not want his message. But God has many ways to open difficult doors. A large Catholic school needed a choirmaster, and as Posubal came from the Jones Missionary College, which had won the singing competitions for several years in succession, he was asked if he would conduct the choir in the Catholic school. In telling the experience, Posubal said with a bright smile, "I was the worst in the class in conducting." When he tried to beat time it was suggested it looked as though he was trying to drive the flies away.
However, nothing daunted, he accepted the position as choirmaster. First he told the Catholic choir, "You must learn to pray. The Jones Missionary College wins because they pray," he told them. They would also have to stop smoking and chewing betel nut. The whole Catholic choir complied. The result was that his choir won the two competitions they entered.
Now Posubal said he had three hundred attending his meetings. The priest in charge of the area now calls Posubal, "The tiger that is taking my people," to which Posubal answered, "The Bible says the devil is as a roaring lion, so we need a few tigers to take his prey." Now Posubal and other evangelists in Bougainville rejoice in the name of "tigers." They say, "We are tigers for souls." The present indications are that thousands will soon be turning to the truth in Bougainville.