When baby Lazarus was born, he died three times and had to be resuscitated. Hence he was given the name Lazarus. Sometime later, we were doing hospital outreach in the ward where there are mothers and babies. And there was Lazarus, sick, looked after by his mother. So we prayed for him and he became well. He has since come sometimes to my Friday kids group with his brothers. He is about 2 now. He has been starting to try to sing some of the songs with us. He is very active and curious. A very precious little boy!
Lois and Neal Semanison are missionaries with Interlink Ministries, on loan to MAF. Neal is working in the Engineering Department, currently putting together a training curriculum for engineers. The Semanisions are from the US and came to PNG 2012.
Lois is on a spouse visa and does not have a job or official role with MAF. but she has a big heart, loves chocolate and has lots of time on hand which she turns into blessing the people in the community.
Her background is that of 31 years working as a social worker. When she came to Mt Hagen, after eight days of language training (Tok Pisin), she got involved with a Brazilian missionary couple who were starting a prep school in Polga, Jiwaka Province. Lois shares, “Lillian, a national friend, and I would go once a week to share a Bible story with the children. I began to visit people in the hospital and about 2.5 years ago, I started to visit the prison in town as well. I also have a group of kids that meet in my house on Friday afternoons where I share a Bible story, songs, a craft and some food. I have as few as 9 and as many as 17 children coming. In addition, I have devotions with the compound guards every morning and I provide meals for the guards. I have made friends with a number of nationals so I have many visitors.“
The Lazarus story above and the ones following below are some glimpses of Lois’ ministry to be a living testimony of the love and care of our Heavenly Father, who does not want one of his sheep to go astray.
On Mondays at noon, we go to the hospital. Our first stop is usually the special care nursery. There can be up to 12 babies in there. They are premies and babies with special needs. We try to take onesies and maybe soap and tracts and sometimes bananas. Everything depends on how much money I have or on what others bring. We read Scripture with the ladies and pray with them. Sometimes I even have pictures made by my Friday group kids to give them.
“Some time ago, I was visiting the women’s ward along with another missionary. We were visiting a woman who needed to have surgery to repair fistula. The other missionary was involved in working out the surgery at another hospital. The bed next to this woman had a woman who along with 7 other women were going to have hysterectomies. I spoke with this woman and prayed with her. Later, one day as we were coming out of the hospital, she approached me at the gate and told me that the day we had prayed before the surgery, she had confessed her sins to the LORD and had forgiven all those she needed to forgive. She is the only one who survived the operation. The others all perished. I run into her from time to time when I shop at the market. She just glows and we hug. God did something miraculous in her life as well.“
I just took the pair of crutches that one of the other MAF ladies got for me from the Aussie second-hand store. The man needing them is still in bed. It was a car accident. He has had skin grafts and a rod inserted in his leg. He expects to be there two more weeks. He is in a ward with many other accident victims. Sadly, the hospital has no crutches or wheelchairs. One young man is totally unable to walk and desperately needs a wheelchair.
This photo shows a little boy in the hospital who was very excited to receive a Jesus coloring book. In the background, you can see the pastor that we have visited many times. He fell down a cliff and has been in the hospital for 4 or 5 months. He just had surgery and the nurse said it did not go well. She said he will be in the hospital for 4 more weeks. We have some crutches for him that were bought by another missionary. He believes God has him there for a purpose.
Nirmala, another MAF spouse, and I visited Lina and Jos from Huya in the Hagen Hospital a few weeks back. Lina has chronic renal failure and was flown to Mount Hagen by MAF as there is only a small hospital in their area and no road access. Unfortunately, there is not much they can do here for Lina, but she has been given a blood transfusion. We were able to take them some food items and some medevac packs that MAF missionary women had put together for such situations as this. This couple has three boys, aged 12, 3, and 1, who are being cared for now by the paternal grandmother. Lina and Jos attend ECPNG church and both are Christians. We have visited them twice now and have read the Bible and prayed with them. They may be returned to Huya next week. Unfortunately, there is no dialysis here.
During situations such as this where there are no family and friends in the area, it has been important to give the gift of presence and most of all encouragement from the LORD. For such a time as this, we are here.
Resources to share – And how you can become a part of Lois’ ministry
When we have the Jesus coloring books from Every Home for Christ, we give them out to kids. I buy color pencils from a store next to the Christian bookstore. I get tracts from Every Home for Christ, buy some from EBC, and buy some from the Christian bookstore. When we have Bibles, we give some out. The best bargain is the Tok Pisin New Testament/ Psalms in Tok Pisin. Someone in Australia sent me some English Bibles, but they are almost gone.
Sometimes I have reading glasses for those needing them as well. There are maybe thousands of people in the hospital and outpatient so our resources only go so far. We give out the coloring books to children in the wards, sitting around outside and in the waiting room.
There have been special needs such as those evacuated from the earthquake area. For them, we also bought extra things like slip-on-shoes and blankets. Sometimes I have found out about someone with other needs and have bought them pillows, blankets, clothes. Many stories…
Sally Lloyd, an Australian lady who grew up in the area which was heavily affected by the February earthquake, shares about Nagei, a woman who lost all her family in the earthquake and for whom Lois organised the crutches:
“This beautiful lady has a tragic story of loss and helplessness during the earthquake (surviving with terrible injuries and watching 11 family members perish) – thankful for those who have helped her so far and thankful that she is continuing to receive assistance to try to resume her life with her only living child. The walk to her house is very difficult! We were hearing more of her story and I was translating for someone – must admit to breaking down a few times. Her young son has his own story to tell as well!“
Persons wanting to send things up here… such as onesies, little caps for the babies and baby size blankets would be appreciated, also clothes for the mothers. We can buy large blankets and pillows in the second-hand store and also onesies, but the need is always greater than the money available to buy them.
If adjustable crutches could be sent that would be wonderful; people here are fairly small. Wheelchairs are needed as well on occasion. I believe the need for crutches and wheelchairs far exceeds the supply what we can source at local second-hand stores.
Friday Kids Group
During school holidays, a couple of young boys joined my outreach team, Anderson (about 10 or so) and Tiger (6 years.) The boys love being part of it. On Monday, at the hospital, we handed out cards made by the Friday kids that come to our house. Getting kids involved in caring for others is a good thing. The prisoners love seeing the kids.
Anyway, July 4 was a big day for Tiger, the 6-year-old who often accompanies his grandmother and us as we do outreach in the prison and hospital. The prisoners like him a lot. On July 4, Tiger gave his heart to Jesus right here in our house. I made a picture sign for him with the date so he could remember his spiritual birthday. Tiger said I gave him that name. I do not remember. He likes it and uses it all the time. Anyway, sometimes the kids sing with me for the prisoners. They help give out the items we have brought for them as well. I have even asked Tiger to pray. His voice is very soft, but it is touching to see him involved.
With the Friday kids group in our house, we have been playing Scrabble, but not like Scrabble anyone else has ever played following rules. Basically, anyone who can come up with a word plants it on the board. It helps with the English. Then there are some little ones who just like to have letters for themselves and so I try to help them make words.
One little boy (Lazarus) thinks the letters are for him just to hold and he put up a big fuss about letting them go.
You see the group is a mix of ages, which can be a challenge.
A friend in Australia had sent a card game with Bible figures which you have to match. This is a good game as those who cannot read can see the pictures and get involved in matching.
While sharing Scriptures with the prisoners recently, I almost broke down as I shared how Jesus took upon Himself our shame, and sin so we could know God’s forgiveness. He took my shameful sins upon Himself and suffered in my place. I noticed one prisoner looking down as I shared this. Jesus had no shame to hang on that tree in my place. He doesn’t want anyone to miss out on this great gift of reconciliation with the God who loves them and sent His only Son to win them back. Well, this week, I am so happy to report that two prisoners prayed with us to receive this gift of salvation personally.
Along with the weekly hospital outreach, going to the prison for outreach is a highlight each week for me. God has been providing English Bibles and Tok Pisin Bibles in unexpected ways. Some Bibles we have that were obtained from the US are especially designed for prisoners. Another tool used is sharing written testimonies of other prisoners who have had their lives changed by the Saviour.
The prisoners are put in cages with no blankets, no beds, only a hole for a toilet and no steady supply of water. They often have only the clothes they came in wearing. As we have been able, we have tried to address some of the needs for blankets, clothes, soap, Bibles, tracts, reading glasses, a scone (yeast roll) and a sweet treat. We were told not to bring fruit as the peels are disposed of in the toilet and clogged toilets are then a problem. The prisoners are given rice once a day. Sometimes the prisoners come from places very far from here, so no one can help them with personal needs.
The children in my Friday group in our apartment sometimes make cards or pictures for the prisoners or for those hospitalised.
The number of prisoners varies from maybe 50 to as many as 70. The population is constantly changing. Some are in and out right away and others are in for a while awaiting resolution of their court situation. We do not ask them what their charges are, respecting their privacy. However, sometimes we hear from other sources, such as a newspaper report and so on, why a particular group or person is incarcerated.
It has been my joy to have former prisoners at times stop me in town and tell me that I had visited them while they were incarcerated. Some have surrendered their lives to Jesus and their whole lives have turned around.
I feel like dancing in praise to the LORD!
I was purchasing petrol for the MAF car that I use and I had some tracts with me so I handed them to the man serving me and some others while I was waiting. The name of the man serving me is Giyus, and he told me he had been in prison when I visited and he had read the pamphlet I had given him. He made a change in his life and now he has this job. He is not yet connected to a church. God is amazing. His Word changes lives.
During one of our hospital outreaches on a Monday, there was a man all bandaged up waiting on a bench for an X-ray or something. He said, “You visited me in the prison last week and gave me toothpaste.” He also said he has decided to turn to the LORD.
“Yu gat kek?” (Do you have cake?)
I bake a lot of chocolate banana cakes and share them around with guards who watch the car while we cross the street to go to the produce market, with market ladies who generously give me extra, with an assortment of people who come to our gate, with our guards, and so on. Well, I guess the word is out.
The other day, while I was getting the car filled up with petrol, I decided to give out tracts. After giving out a bunch to passers-by, I saw there was a small bus, and I went over and gave the driver and passengers each one. A woman by the door asked me: “Yu gat kek?” Well, no, not this time. I guess the word is out about the cake, and it made me “laff” (laugh).
The opportunities abound.
Thank You, LORD that we can be here for such a time as this.
Thank you all for partnering with us in this venture.
God is doing amazing things in the lives of people.