PAPUA NEW GUINEA | July 13 Two Black Eyes
Talitha Hoyato, 19
Nineteen-year-old Talitha Hoyato was shocked to see her roommate with two black eyes. “What happened?” she asked.
Her 23-year-old roommate, Doreen, lifted her blouse to reveal that her back also was covered with bruises. “My husband is a drunkard, and he did this to me,” Doreen said, weeping. “Then you shouldn’t go back home,” Talitha said.
But Doreen went home at every opportunity. She had a 1-year-old baby who was being cared for by her mother-in- law in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea. She missed the child terribly.
Doreen found a sympathetic listener in Talitha. Both were studying to be teachers at Simbu Teachers College in Kundiawa, located about a three-hour drive away from Doreen’s home.
“My life is miserable, and I don’t know how to change and to be a good mom and wife,” Doreen said. Talitha wondered how to respond.
Then she remembered seeing women with marital problems come to her mother for advice. Her mother had directed them to wisdom from the Bible.
“My Mom said no one but God can change a person,” Talitha said. “God created us and knows how to mend us.”
She suggested that Doreen pray and read the Bible every morning.
One of the first things that Doreen had noticed when the two became roommates was that Talitha worshipped every morning. Talitha woke up at 5 a.m. and prayed and read the Bible. Doreen learned that Talitha’s birth parents were drunkards and that she had been raised by an adoptive Seventh-day Adventist mother who taught her to worship daily.
The next time Doreen returned to the dormitory from home leave, Talitha had a surprise for her. Talitha handed her sheets of paper onto which she had copied three Bible stories, including the life-changing experience of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-42. She also had copied a mission story from the first quarter 2017 Mission magazine and a story from Children’s Mission magazine.
“You can read this if you have time,” Talitha said.
Doreen liked the stories and asked for more. Talitha told how she had started praying for her birth father a year earlier and he had rejected all entreaties to accept God. But then, as she kept on praying, he had been arrested for reneging on a work contract and turned to God in prison. She said she was waiting for him to be released from prison so they could go to church together.
“If God can change my father, He can change your husband, too!” Talitha said.
Doreen was touched by the stories and began to pray for her husband every day. One morning, Talitha awoke at 5 a.m. and saw that her roommate was already awake and reading the Bible. She was thrilled.
Two months passed, and Doreen’s mother-in-law called with surprising news.
She said that Doreen’s husband, who had never worked in the garden, had dug and planted a big garden on his own. “Are you joking?” Doreen asked.
“Come and see for yourself,” her mother-in-law replied. The next time Doreen went home, she saw the garden. Her husband was trying to care for her and the rest of his family for the first time. He also stopped drinking. No one in the village could believe the change that had come over him.
Back in the college dormitory, Doreen thanked Talitha with a hug. “Praise the Lord!” Talitha said. “God is working.”
Today, Doreen is having morning worship regularly, and she and her husband attend church together. She no longer has any black eyes. “Now I am a happy mother with a happy husband,” she said.
Doreen is one of many people who have learned about God from Talitha. Although only 19, Talitha likes to talk about nothing else than Jesus and His righteousness.
“My adoptive mother taught me how to be a disciple from early childhood, and I always thank the Lord for giving me such a Mom,” she said. “Everywhere I go, I always like to share Jesus. When we talk about the news, I say, ‘See, that tells us that Jesus is coming soon.’ We need to be faithful and not lose our hope in Jesus.”
Three years ago, part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering helped construct children’s Sabbath School classrooms in Talitha’s hometown, Goroka, in Papua New Guinea. Thank you for your Sabbath School mission offering.
By Andrew McChesney
Papua New Guinea has 1,045 churches, 3,182 companies, and a membership of 315,759. In a population of 8,317,000, that’s one church member for every 26 people.
Early Adventist work in Papua New Guinea was difficult because the government had divided the Papuan territory between three mission bodies — the Methodists, the Anglicans, and the London Missionary Society — and it was hard for any other missionaries to purchase land or work in these territories.
Papua New Guinea has 29 Adventist clinics and health centers.