In 1997, the Bishop family became missionaries for the Gogodala project in Papua New Guinea (PNG) with Adventist Frontier Missions (AFM). When Jeff Bishop left Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he had been teaching for the past four years, he missed his students. After arriving in Balimo, the Middle Fly District of the Western Province of PNG, he met Daniel Sewanene, a teacher and the principal of the Balimo government elementary school.
About a month after the Bishops arrived in PNG, Jeff went to speak with Daniel. Jeff asked to take a video of a few of the teachers’ classrooms to send to his students back in the United States.
The day after Jeff filmed the kindergarten classroom, he stopped by to thank Alice, the teacher, and let her know he had already sent the video to his students. Alice then asked Jeff if he would get her a book the next time he went to Port Moresby, the capital of PNG. She apologized that she could not remember the title but told Jeff that she sensed it must be very important. She told him that she had been listening to a radio program a few days earlier, and the person on the show encouraged his listeners to purchase it specifically.
Jeff wondered if she had been listening to Adventist World Radio (AWR) since they aired a program in PNG. Since he was thinking of AWR, the thought occurred to Jeff that it might be The Great Controversy that the speaker suggested and asked Alice if that title was the one. “Yes!” Alice exclaimed, “That was the name of the book!” Even Jeff was surprised that they identified the book, yet he immediately recognized God’s hand in this divine meeting.
Determined to help, Jeff went to the office of Judah, the only government official he knew, to see if there was a phone he could use to order the book. Judah said it was the only government phone in Balimo City and that it did not always work, but Jeff was welcome to try.
Jeff contacted Les Anderson, a pilot and the manager of Adventist Aviation, about picking him up The Great Controversy. Les said that he was going to the union office in Lae the next day and would get some copies for him. He also mentioned that the union office was selling a three-book set for five kinas, including The Desire of Ages and Steps to Christ. Jeff could not resist and ordered five sets.
The day before Les was scheduled to drop off the books in Balimo, Jeff went to Judah and asked to make one more phone call to Adventist Aviation to see when Les would arrive at the airport. The phone did not work, however. In fact, that phone never worked again the entire five years they lived in PNG. God had enabled the phone to work just so Jeff could order Alice’s books! Three days later, Alice received her set and started with The Great Controversy.
A few months later, Alice was admitted to the Balimo Medical Center. With no running water, electricity or doctors, this center was not a hospital; however, they did have a roof over their heads, windows for light to come in, and nurses. Alice had asthma and was having a hard time breathing. The nurses wanted to give her medicine through an IV to help her breathe, but they could not find a vein anywhere, no matter where they tried.
As Alice lay there thinking she would die, she started considering accepting the Sabbath, which she had read about in The Great Controversy. Then all of a sudden, she said, “Okay, God! I accept it. I accept the Sabbath, and I will keep it.”
Immediately after that decision, the nurse found a vein and inserted the needle. The medicine alleviated Alice’s breathing issues. Alice eventually became the first person after the Bishops arrived in Balimo to request baptism into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
When Jeff returned to Balimo in 2012, 10 years after returning to America, he visited Alice to see how she was doing. She told him that the government eventually asked her to move to Awaba Village on the Aramia River and teach at the Awaba Secondary School. While there, she convinced village members to start a Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Jeff witnessed God’s handiwork—a seed planted by AWR and watered by an AFM missionary grew Alice into a woman of God. It was nothing short of a miracle!
Contact AFM today if you want to help God work miracles with the unreached.