Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In the Company of Greatness, Part 2

“If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness.  We carry this Precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.  That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.”  2 Corinthians 4:7, The Message

“Greatness is not manifested by unlimited pragmatism, which places such a high premium on the end justifying any means and any methods.”  ~Margaret Chase Smith

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world … as in being able to remake ourselves.”  ~Mohandas Gandhi


Baluka had met us at the Port Moresby airport back in August when we arrived in country.  I remembered him as a very nice young Papua New Guinean man who had helped us with luggage and kids and escorted us from the international to the domestic terminal.  Before he left, he helped us through security and made sure we got checked in for our flight to Madang.  Now, bright and early at 3:00AM, he arrived at the mission guesthouse to help me once again.

The ride to the airport was pleasant as we talked - in Tok Pisin (he knows English quite well, but was determined not to let me off the hook, and told me as much!) - about our families, where we were from, that sort of thing.  Once we arrived, the wait was much longer than I expected, though Baluka didn’t seem surprised in the least.  He and I had the opportunity to talk some more.  Finally I asked him how he came to know the Lord.  A wide smile spread across his face.

“Yu laik harim testimoni bilong mi?”

Yes, I’d like to hear your testimony.

He told me of growing up in a religious, but non-Christian home where, deep in his spirit, he felt the tug to do God’s work.  He prayed often for this, but since his insides were of the “old way” he was unable to follow through.  Time and again, though, God answered specific prayers regarding things such as his ability to continue school, and finally, after getting caught up in the college party scene for a while, he found himself at a dead end and gave his heart to the Lord.  When he returned home at the end of that term, his family could tell that he was different.

He still longed to do the work of God, and continued to pray to that end, but when the chance came for him to play on the national rugby team, he didn’t hesitate.  The situation, however, proved to be too much for him, and he struggled to stay in right relationship with God.

Finally, the opportunity came for him to work for a Christian mission.  Knowing that he needed to remove himself from his present environment, and still feeling the desire to work for God, he jumped at the chance, even though it meant a bit of deception on his part.  After three months on the job, his conscience got the better of him, and he approached his boss to confess and ask for forgiveness.  He was met with a smile and the words, “I’ve known for some time.”

Apparently the boss was just waiting for him to admit the deceit.   He told his embarrassed employee he would get some counsel on the situation and get back with him the next day.

It was a very long night.

Allow me to paraphrase the verdict:

Because you’ve worked three months under the cloud of this deception, said his boss, you must now work three months in the light of the truth.  It will be on a probationary basis, and at the end of the three months we’ll reevaluate.

This was about 15 years ago, and Baluka has served the mission ever since, with a smile on his face, and the truth on his heart.


A few years ago, as his father was getting close to death, he had the opportunity to, one more time, share with him the Gospel.  Always before he had been antagonistic to it, but now, as his body was failing him, he allowed the truth of Christ’s love and the power of the cross to sink in, and he gave his life over to the Lordship of Christ. 

The next day, though he had previously been bedridden, he was up and about.  He had a spring in his step and a radiance about his face the likes of which Baluka had never seen.   Baluka found his father sitting on a pier overlooking the water – one of his favorite spots – and approached him only to hear these disconcerting words delivered with a smile: “Tomorrow I will be leaving you.”

The next day, his miraculous strength gone, his father was confined again to the bed.  He told Baluka and his cousin to go fishing – to get out of the house.  And he reminded him again that this would be the day he would die.

Against his wishes, Baluka went fishing, expecting to come home to the worst.  However, upon his return, his father was still alive, though barely.  Sometime before midnight he turned to Baluka, who was sitting on his left holding his hand, and his nephew, who was sitting on his right, and asked about “the three of you.”

No, Dad.  There are only two of us here.

His father disagreed and indicated his son, his nephew, and, with a beaming smile, “the man standing at the end of the bed.” 

The boys could see nothing.

But the dying man could.  He was smiling at the man who, moments later, would escort him into the Afterlife.  All because his son had been willing to share Christ with him one more time.


This, too, is God’s story.

This, too, is God’s greatness.


Two very different men with two very different stories.  It’s not what they’ve done that makes them great.  It is His Story as it emanates from faces of different colors and bodies of vastly different ages and physical abilities.  It is the image of the invisible God which, despite their personal histories or life’s accomplishments, seem to seep out through their every pore.

And in their presence, I was, most certainly, in the presence of God.



  1. That story gave me goose bumps! Wow.

  2. You must write a book and I must buy it! Wow!

  3. Please come back...it has been too long since you last updated your blog. You are robbing your readers of the joy of your creative way of expression. Hopefully, more posts to follow.


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