Namulu, a Gogodala woodcarver and friend of ours passed away this week. Though he attended our church at Kewa, he never was baptized.
My first memories of Namulu were of him coming to our house in Kotale, hoping to sell us wood carvings. I remember feeling a little annoyed and thought of him as a pushy salesman trying to take advantage of me.
Sometimes Namulu was viewed with suspicion by his fellow tribesmen because they thought he used his cultural art as sorcery against people to cause sickness or death. But his son, Michael, one of the young workers helping me build the training center, was baptized after studying the Bible with us.
Through the years, I got to know Namulu better and came to appreciate his friendship. After we built our house in Kewa — elevated on posts, creating a shady and breezy place underneath — we began holding church services and Sabbath School classes there. At that time, we had no separate building to meet in. Our attendees were primarily women and children. The only men in attendance were Galuma (who was already a baptized Seventh-day Adventist) and Namulu.
One Sabbath afternoon, Laurie led the AY (Adventist Youth) program and asked everyone to divide into small groups to compose scripture songs. She handed slips of paper containing Bible promises to each group. I was in a group with the other two men, Galuma and Namulu. We were given the Bible verse from Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” The three of us put our heads together and came up with a simple tune that had a catchy march tempo to fit the words. When we performed it for the larger group, Namulu took great pride in joining the debut of our new composition, reminding us that the God of heaven supplies our needs. Our church group still occasionally sings this song in our meetings.
Unfortunately, a couple of months ago, Namulu contracted a cough which never got better. He died just days before our return to PNG after our furlough in America. Though he had not yet been baptized, I cling to the hope that I may still see Namulu in heaven, because it was for people like him that Jesus came “to seek and to save…” (Luke 19:10).