Mr. W and Mr. B had only just arrived in Awaba when they heard the news that the ECPNG pastor from their village of Kaniya had been admitted to the hospital. He was bedridden and unable to move one side. Most Gogodala are related either by blood or by clan, and not visiting him would have been culturally unacceptable. So Mr. W and Mr. B immediately went to see him. As they climbed up the hill to the clinic, they recalled how this same man had caused them so much recent grief and trouble. Several weeks earlier, Mr. W, our area youth pastor, had gone to Kaniya at Mr. B’s request to help him raise up a church. However, this ECPNG pastor had done his best to hedge their way with thorns and thistles. This village, he told them, was an ECPNG village.
Once at the clinic, Mr. W and Mr. B visited with the pastor a short time. Then, before leaving, they prayed with him. They were shaking hands with the pastor and bidding him farewell when he suddenly sat up, got out of bed and began walking around the room, exclaiming that he was healed! They were all shocked.
The next Friday, the pastor approached Mr. B and asked to borrow his motor canoe so he and a group of men from the church could attend a meeting in a remote village. “No one else will help me,” the pastor said as he finished explaining the situation.
Mr. B thought for a moment. “How much fuel do you have?” he asked.
“Two and a half gallons of gas,” the pastor answered.
This explained why no one else was willing to help. Four gallons of fuel was not nearly enough. The round trip would take 14 to 16 gallons.
Just then, Mr. B remembered something he had read a few days earlier: “Don’t let your problems be bigger than your God. Let God be bigger than your problems.” Suddenly, he felt an overwhelming urge to help the pastor. “I’ll help,” he said, “but my engine is old, and I am the only one who knows how to run it. I will have to take you.” When the pastor mentioned their fuel shortage, Mr. B stopped him and shared the quote. “Don’t let your problems be bigger than your God. Let God be bigger than your problems.”
Mr. B immediately went home to tell his wife what he was going to do. She got cross at him and asked if he had gone daele-daele (crazy). “Every day we pray for two things,” he said. “For our church family and for better relations with the community. This is an opportunity for us to build better relations with the community.” And with that, he picked up his own two and a half gallons of gas and headed for the canoe landing.
While the group was loading their things to leave, a fellow came saying he wanted to help but had no gasoline, only two gallons of kerosene. Mr. B told him to fetch it and then added it to their fuel container. With the men’s original two and a half gallons, his own two and a half gallons and now two gallons of kerosene, they had a total of seven gallons—not enough for the round trip, but getting closer.
Just before they began their trip, Mr. B prayed, thanking God for His care and provision. Then, referring to their insufficient fuel, he reminded the men not to let their problems be bigger than their God. At the next village, they stopped to pick up another man. While they were there, someone gave them another gallon and a half of gas, bringing their total to nine and a half gallons. They prayed again, thanking God for his provision, and set off. As the sun set and the Sabbath began, Mr. B quietly handed the engine over to another man to operate and sat down, saying he wanted to observe the Sabbath.
They arrived at their destination with a gallon and a half of fuel to spare. Mr. B prepared for bed as the other men rushed off to join the meetings. The next day, instead of attending the meetings, Mr. B read his Bible and sat with three old men. At lunchtime, he joined the others and overheard several of the men instructing the ladies to only bring him clean fish and vegetables. Mr. B was surprised. He had never said a word to them about clean and unclean foods. While they were eating, one of Mr. B’s nephews arrived with two and a half gallons of gasoline. Later that evening, another nephew came with a gallon more, making their total five gallons, not nearly enough to get them home.
Early Monday morning as they were leaving, some of the men complained about not having enough fuel to return. Mr. B held up his hand and reminded them, “Don’t let your problems be bigger than your God. Let God be bigger than your problems.” He then told them they would paddle until 9 a.m. and then start the engine. He lifted the fuel tank, showing everyone the five gallons it contained. “We are not going to look at this fuel again,” he said. “We will trust God to make it last.” Taking a coat, he ceremoniously covered the fuel container from view.
Hour after hour, the engine purred, bringing them closer to home. As they neared their village, tears of joy came to Mr. B’s eyes. “I can smell our village,” he said, as they motored the last mile. Once they were docked at the landing, he uncovered the container and lifted it up for all to see. They had two gallons of fuel left over!
Please remember Mr. W and Mr. B as they work and witness to their fellow Gogodala. Thank you for your prayers and support.