But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31, NIV).

When Wycliffe translator Marilyn Laszlo worked with the Sepik Iwam people (like the one pictured at right) in Papua New Guinea, one of the men she confronted with God’s Word in their mother tongue was Sauperi, the chief of Hauna village. He visited her home one night and showed her his fetishes, which were believed to have spiritual powers. 

Feeling a canopy of darkness hovering over the room, Marilyn prayed to God to protect her from any spirits connected to the fetishes: “Please, Lord Jesus, you are more powerful than these fetishes. You can command the spirits they serve. Please protect me.”

Then she held up the Sepik Iwan Scriptures and proclaimed: “This is Father God Creator’s Carving [the Bible] . . . Father God created the crocodile and the cassowary bird. Father God created you . . . I am not going to be frightened by spirits because my God is greater and stronger than all of them. Sauperi, you need to ask Jesus into your throat.” (Sepik Iwam people believe one’s very essence is in their throat.)

Sauperi put all those fetishes in his bag and disappeared into the darkness, asking her to keep his visit a secret.

He visited daily and his spiritual interest increased. Sauperi inquired at length about what the Scriptures—“Papa God’s Talk”—said. One evening, he lifted his cup following a hearty drink of coffee (which is called “sweet water” in their language), laid a hand on a nearby Bible, and said, “Your talk about Papa God is sweet. It is like sugar.”

He lowered his cup, mused a long moment, and then added, “I want Jesus to live in my throat.”

Sauperi’s trust and peace were no longer in the fetishes, but in Jesus Christ alone.

 

Photo by Dave Crough