Over the last few weeks it has been great to have rain most evenings here in Hagen, but it will take more precious moisture over several months to refresh this thirsty land again.
Please continue to pray for rain, and for the crops to grow again. Pray also for protection against typhoid and other drought-related diseases. A couple of Hagen-based MAF staff have come down with typhoid, and even here in town people have been desperate to find water.
The market produce is typically doused with water to keep it fresh throughout the day, but with less or no H2O available, many of the sellers are using ditch/sewage water to tip all over their vegetables. After all, what else is there? So I bleach my fruit and veges, and trust God for good health, and feel grateful for easy access to clean water.
(Many thanks to Matt Cave, pastor of my home/supporting church, who gave me their spare water filter to bring to PNG. And to Murray Grant, supporter and fellow writer, who organised extra cartridges for this filter) …
MAF has been flying food out to some of the worst affected areas in PNG – so far we have moved over 10 tonnes of food with our aircraft, with another 17 tonnes planned before Christmas. The PNG Defence Force helped move many tonnes of rice in their CASA CN235 (a “mini-Hercules”) aircraft out to Tabubil in the Western Highlands. From there, MAF deployed one of our Twin Otters to distribute the food to hungry and increasingly desperate communities and villages in the Min area, one of the places struggling the most.
A few weeks ago I popped down to the base on an errand, and found myself surrounded by people hefting huge bags of rice from a truck outside into the MAF cargo section. It was amazing to see my MAF colleagues stacking piles of rice and to know that MAF is making a real difference in drought-stricken areas, and it reminded me of our tagline, as this is a case in which it rings tangibly true: “Where flying is not a luxury, but a lifeline.”
For me, it’s been a week of attending meetings and courses, and planning for events, none of which really make for great stories!! So instead, I’d like to share with you a devotion I did at our morning “lotu” (worship) the other week.
MAF PNG starts the day at 7:30am with devotions and prayer, but sometime the allocated person is not available – on this day I stood in for someone else…
I hadn’t had time to prepare a specific devotional, and so I simply shared a passage I had read the night before – a passage in Hosea’s book, where he talks about God’s fierce love for Israel. I read from Hosea 11:1-4, 7-9, but personalized it, applying it to us all – we who are now God’s children through Christ:
“When you were a child, I loved you, and out of Egypt I called my child. But the more I called, the more you went away from me. You sacrificed to false gods, and burned incense to pagan images.
It was I who taught you to walk, taking you by the arms. But you did not realise that it was I Who healed you. I led you with cords of human kindness, with ties of love… You are determined to turn from Me, even as you call Me God Most High…
How can I give you up? How can I hand you over?
My heart is stirred within Me; all My compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my anger…
For I am God, and not a man – the Holy One among you…”
It was those heartbroken, love-spoken words that caught my breath. They are spilling over with the depth of His love for each one of us, His precious children. And I heard God crying out to us, calling to us, “How can I give up on you? How can I let you go? I can’t. I don’t. I won’t give up on you, My child.”
How incredible is His heart for us! How fierce is His love! Refusing to let us go, never giving up on us even if we give up on ourselves. His heart is stirring and churning for you, for me. He is aroused, not to anger, but to compassion. Despite us. For us.
And what can our response be but to echo His words and say to our Father, “How can I give You up, God? How can I let You go, Lord? I can’t. I won’t let You go…”
So I encourage you to go ahead and read those bold words for yourself; hear God’s voice, and be overwhelmed by His compassion, and know that His love burns wild and free for you.