In the Valley of the Shadow…

Papua New Guinea was the site of some major battles as well as Japanese occupation during WWII.  Many of the older generation were young children during this time and have many remarkable stories that they have passed down to their children in the tradition of PNG story telling.  On this particular mountain (Nobnob) Lutheran missionaries were already established long before WWII began.  It is uncommon in PNG to have generations of Christians in one family but I have met multiple families from the Nobnob language group whose grandparents were strong Christian men and women.  My tok pisin teacher Itbam’s grandfather was the first Christian convert in Nobnob and now Itbam is on the team of national translators who have helped complete the Nobnob New Testament and are making final revisions on the Nobnob Old Testament.  Maria is the granddaughter of a man who was martyred for his faith during WWII.  I will do my best to convey the story of her grandfather how Sharon and I heard it storied in the village house surrounded by Maria’s daughters and extended family.  We were sitting asking questions to the young daughters about the stories they had heard from WWII and they began to tell us about their great grandfather who was beheaded because of his faith.  It started in bits and pieces with them shy to explain the details because they had just been told the story themselves.  So they asked grandma who was sitting in the doorway to tell more about her father.  Grandma began by telling that he was a strong man and that he was killed alongside two Americans because he was a Christian.  She said that he was made to kneel in his grave before he was beheaded in order to make less work for the soldiers once he was dead.  Then grandma told us she was tired of telling the story and we looked to the daughters once again and they begin to fill in details of the church on the hillside that was spared from the bombing and how he was a man of great faith who wasn’t afraid of death.  Maria’s sister then came and sat down and started the story again.  She told of a man who had great faith in God, a man whose prayers spared the village church from bombing and whose prayers paved the way for future generations in Christ.  Her grandfather suffered terrible torture yet he remained strong and continued to pray despite the physical threats made by the Japanese.  His life ended with him telling the Americans on either side of him not to be afraid and then all three of them were beheaded and buried in an unmarked grave.  All the women told this story in a very straightforward manner but with great reverence.  This is their Christian heritage, a man who lived and died for his faith.  This account of the life and death of Yot Begbeg can also be found in the book In the Valley of the Shadow…of the Life and Death of Two Witnesses of Jesus Christ by W. Fugmann.  The book gives a more detailed eye witness account from two men who knew Yot and were with him during his last months, hours and minutes of life.  I am humbled and amazed at this story especially having been told from the mouths of his family themselves.  What a rich heritage of faith!  My prayer is that this story and others like it will continue to be passed down as a testimony to the generations to come.

One thought on “In the Valley of the Shadow…

  1. Joy,
    Thanks for being faithful to update your blog. It’s great to read the stories as you experience them. Renee and I love you and are praying for you!

    Pete

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