No Retirement Plans
PAPUA NEW GUINEA | July 20
Okanama Kevi, 66
Many elderly Seventh-day Adventist pastors return to their native villages when they retire in Papua New Guinea and spend their last years at home and with family.
Not Okanama Kevi, a veteran pastor from Ura village in the highlands of the South Pacific country.
His life became even more busy in retirement as he felt called by God to start a full-time prayer ministry.
Pastor Okanama’s name has become known across Papua New Guinea as God answers his prayers in a special way. Adventists and others call him on his cell phone and knock on the door of his family hut in a mountainous forest. He has compiled a long prayer list to raise to God every morning and evening.
One day, a pastor from another Christian denomination showed up at Pastor Okanama’s house. The visitor, Ricky, lived in another province and had heard about Pastor Okanama’s prayer ministry while visiting Ura on church business.
Ricky arrived at the house with his heavily pregnant wife. “Please, can you pray for my wife?” Ricky asked. “She is past her due date, and we are very worried.”
Pastor Okanama anointed the woman with olive oil and prayed for her. Two days later, the woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
The next Sabbath, Ricky went to the Adventist church with his wife and all six of their children, including the newborn girl.
Pastor Okanama immediately invited Ricky and his wife to join the church’s baptismal class, which he oversaw. The couple’s five older children, ages 8 to 12, also began to study the Bible. After several months of study, the couple and their five children were baptized in August 2017.
“Now Ricky has left his church and his work as a pastor,” Pastor Okanama said in an interview at his home. “He is a faithful member in our church.”
Following Ricky’s baptism, a senior pastor from his former church visited the Adventist church in the village.
He was given time to speak after the Sabbath worship service. He stood up and, weeping, gave an emotional speech.
“I invested a lot in Ricky,” he said. “Now he has left me and gone to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. You guys take good care of him and look after him well, just as I looked after him.”
With that, he gave his blessing to Ricky’s decision.
Ricky, in addition to working as a pastor, owned two small businesses selling stationary and renting cars. After he was baptized, he called Pastor Okanama to his workplace and asked him to dedicate his businesses to the Lord. The pastor did with joy.
“He is a fruit of my prayer ministry,” said Pastor Okanama, 66. “Through this ministry I have prayed for many pastors.”
He has no plans to retire. Do you?
Part of a Thirteenth Sabbath Offering in 2016 helped construct children’s Sabbath School classrooms in Papua New Guinea, including in the area near Pastor Okanama’s home. Thank you for your Sabbath School mission offering.
By Andrew McChesney
Fast Facts Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern part of the world’s second-largest island and is prone to volcanic activity, earthquakes, and tidal waves.
There are very few roads, so air travel is very common.
With more than 600 islands and 800 indigenous languages, Papua New Guinea is made up of four regions with 20 provinces.
About 80 percent of Papua New Guinea’s people live in rural areas with almost no modern conveniences.
The world’s only known poisonous bird, the Hooded Pitohui (Pitohui dichrous) is native to Papua New Guinea.
Common foods include starchy vegetables (wild sago, breadfruit, yams, taro, sweet potatoes, and rice) complemented by wild greens, several varieties of bananas, and coconuts, mango, and other fruits.
Papua New Guinea has three official languages: English, Hiri Motu, and Tok Pisin.
The New Guinea Highlands runs the length of New Guinea, and the highest areas receive snowfall — almost unheard of in the tropics.
Papua New Guinea’s indigenous people used to practice cannibalism. They hung the heads of their enemies as decoration.