By Mark Ellis —
Simon and Annika Flanagan, missionaries with Ethnos360, recently planted a church in the village of Soi, Papua New Guinea.
One of the recent converts in the village, a young man named Koppa, grew up in another village many miles away.
“I never knew my mom and my dad and as soon as I had an opportunity I moved away from my small village into one of the bigger towns,” Koppa told them. “Then I soon got involved with the wrong crowd and started to use drugs and alcohol.”
A rebellious spirit and corrupt behavior got him into trouble with the police and he had to run from town to town in order to avoid arrest. But eventually, the authorities caught up with him and he landed in jail.
“I escaped out of jail but nearly got killed when the police shot at me. So I fled far away to hide from the police here in the village here where I’m living now,” he recounted.
Hiding in the village, he heard about the Flanagans arrival and their intention to launch a school. He learned they would teach reading and also about “the Creator and His talk.”
Koppa was intrigued because he had never learned to read. He approached Eddie, one of the teachers helping the missionaries.
“There’s no way I can learn because I’m just a rascal without any knowledge,” he told Eddie.
“I myself was once a rascal and not very clever and so if I could learn to read then you can as well,” Eddie shared with Koppa.
Eddie began to study and surprised himself when he learned to read.
The missionaries also began to share about the Creator, a message Koppa had never heard before. “At first it was really hard for me to listen because I realized who God was. I realized that he was perfect and all-powerful and all knowing and everywhere.
“He knew me inside and out, and I cannot hide from him like I’m hiding from the police. But then I learned that he is also loving and God is so much different than all the other spirits that we honor and worship.”
Koppa also heard about man’s sin problem. “I learned about the stupid decision that Adam and Eve made by turning away from this wonderful God. And they actually brought all of us into trouble as well because we are all children from Adam and Eve and we now got the same stomachs (hearts/natures).
A spirit of repentance began to fall on Koppas. “At this stage I got very troubled and my stomach was very heavy as I realized that this perfect God who knows me and sees me, is also the final judge who will judge me and I will definitely go to the fire that has no ending.
“Luckily I heard about the one who would take us back (redeemer) who would be sent one day as a helper. And so I got to know that Jesus was God himself who died in my place for my sins. It was just like that perfect innocent Lamb in the Old Testament that was killed and burned in the place of the sinner.”
As Koppa absorbed the implications of the Gospel, he got more and more unsettled. “When I heard about Jesus being the Lamb of God killed in my place to pay for my sins I just could not listen to that anymore. I ran out of the building and found a place where I could hide.”
Eddie watched Koppa jump up and run out of the building. Others in the room were crying as the Holy Spirit began to move on their hearts.
After the meeting ended a few minutes later, Eddie went running after Koppa and found him hiding in a ditch, crying.
“What’s wrong, Koppa?” he asked.
“I just couldn’t listen to the story anymore,” he said. “I was just feeling so ashamed and so embarrassed. It’s hard for me to hear that God loves me and shows mercy and grace to me and made a plan to help a guy like me. I don’t deserve that.”
“That’s why the Gospel is such great news!” Eddie told him. “We don’t deserve any of it, and God has done this for us because he loves us.”
Eddie extended his hand and pulled Koppa out of the ditch.
At that moment, Koppa decided to place his faith and trust on Jesus and was born again.
“Today Koppa is growing and becoming a literacy teacher and in time we hope he will also be trained into becoming a teacher in our church,” according to the Flanagans.
“We look forward to working with these new believers again. Pray for our partners the Laureti family who are carrying a big load.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
Simon and Annika Flanagan and their children have been in Papua New Guinea since 2007, working in church planting ministry with the Mengen people group. For more about their ministry, go here