You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word (Psalm 119: 114 NIV).
God’s Word was a source of great comfort and hope for many Christians living in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, during a turbulent period of their history in the early ’90s. Throughout the decade-long civil war that ravaged their South Pacific islands, thousands of believers were among those who fled into the jungle to escape violent clashes between freedom fighters and government forces.
Samson Sukina, a clan chief among the Sibe people, meditated on Psalm 91 as he and his family endured constant upheaval, moving from one makeshift camp to another deep in the rainforest near their home village. Looking back on his experiences during “The Crisis,” Sukina uses a Melanesian Pidgin expression, strongpela—or “strong talk”—to describe the encouragement he found in this psalm filled with promises of God’s protection and deliverance. He and other church leaders shared that encouragement with their fellow refugees.
“We would tell them, ‘When you’re in a crisis, you don’t look to the problem and what’s happening, but you need to look beyond, to heaven. Just look beyond the crisis to Jesus, who will provide for you and look after your needs and help you in your time of trouble.’
“The result of this was that people in the jungle camps didn’t get sick and they weren’t dying from diseases . . . God was looking after them. They weren’t even hungry in the bush. They planted food and there was plenty to eat.
“Many of them came to faith in Christ, because they saw God’s provision and the help He gave them. For some of them, it was the evidence they needed to believe—because they actually witnessed the supernatural work of God.”
If we read and apply it, God’s Word can help us understand that no matter the circumstances, we can always take refuge in God.
Prayer response: Father, I praise You for the many ways you protected believers during the Bougainville Crisis. Help me to turn to your Word, at all times, for comfort and hope. Thank you for your many promises in Scripture to watch over those who love you and call upon your name.