Experiencing a House-to-House Fellowship Night...as described by my parents.Our eventful walk came to an end when we walked over a bridge made from a single sheet of corrugated steel onto Jeffrey's property. We noticed one chair had been set up on top of a large tarp. Huge banana tree leaves were spread on the ground and these were for us to sit on. Now that too was really different. Darkness soon descended upon us and using a flashlight, Ian passionately spoke on Luke 24, when Jesus opened Scripture to the two men on the road to Emmaus. Our estimate of the group size who had come to listen was about 50, and the hope and prayer is that they will also come to church on Sunday.
It is typical here in Lae to conduct a Wednesday night "House to House" Bible Study. The idea is that on Wednesdays various members of the Lae congregation host members and neighbours at their house, and Ian then presents the Gospel message to this audience. When we heard about this aspect of the ministry work, we of course wanted to be part of it. After all, we are used to Wednesday night Bible Study.
When we arrived at the church, it became apparent tonight's host, Jeffrey, was going to walk us to his home. As it happens, Jeffrey lives in the Kamkumung settlement behind the church. We should tell you about settlements here in Papua New Guinea. Thousands and thousands of people have made homes in the jungle among the trees and vines. Laneways, not roads, have been cut deep and narrow, winding into the jungle, so people can access their dwelling.
It was into one of these settlements, the Kamkumung settlement, that we walked and walked...... and walked. The stone-laden and muddy laneway took us past hundreds of homes, patched together with wood and corrugated steel, and built on stilts (because the torrential rains cause flooding). We were told that at night lighting is almost non-existent as only a few can afford electricity. The smokey smell in the air was constant.....fumes mixed with all manner of food aromas; some pleasant and some not so. We also passed dozens and dozens of stalls where people sold everything from alcohol to zippers. And of course an abundance of fruit and vegetables were also prevalent. We noticed this jungle community also had it's own entertainment as we passed several bars and dance halls along the way. There were of course people everywhere along our route and we found that most were friendly and wished us 'apinun' (good afternoon).
We cannot, in this short blog, explain what we experienced that night. It was such a unique happening! We definitely came away thinking this was one of the most unusual and memorable Bible Study meetings we had ever attended. The wonder of it all is that whether it's a Bible Study in the comfort of an air-conditioned home or church, or on banana leaves in the open air of the humid tropics, the rich Gospel message is the same. And in the end that's what really counts!