It took us three days to walk to Merauke, Indonesia. At the end of the first day, we arrived at an old run-down government station. We were welcomed and lodged by a government officer who was there to maintain the station.
The next morning, the officer reminded us of two important precautions: be aware of the jungle people involved in headhunting and be aware of the militant's activities in the area. We thanked the officer and left at dawn the next day.
At midday, we arrived at a river. We found a dugout canoe and paddled across the river. On the other side, we realised we were in one of the treacherous spots marked on our map. We hurried down the riverside to a spot we thought was safe.
The place was very quiet. There was no human noise. All we could hear was the forest music of the trees, insects and birds singing their lunchtime choruses. We decided to take a short break, have our lunch and enjoy the beauty of the tropical forest.
In the midst of our lunch, we heard the sound of an outboard motor. With horror we got to our feet. We realised that to run for safety into the jungle would be a worse thing to do. Five toughlooking, armed men approached us in a small dinghy. Each of the men wore a red cloth as a head-band.
We stood there helplessly. All we said was "God save us." The men approached us and asked our identity. We quickly introduced ourselves as Seventh-day Adventist missionaries from Daru, Papua New Guinea. They were not convinced by our response, so they ordered us to jump in their dinghy. Without hesitation, we obeyed the command.
A few minutes later, we arrived at their camp. The leader of the group led us to the chief commander. The commander sat us down and began questioning us, "Who are you guys and what are you doing out here?"
"Sir, we are Seventh-day Adventist missionaries and we are on a mission to Indonesia in regard to our border evangelism projects," we replied.
We took out our Bibles and some Signs of the Times magazines and showed him. He ignored the Bibles but took one of the magazines and began glancing through the pages. We watched as he came to a page that caught his attention. He stared at it for some time.
Then he lowered the magazine and began talking about God. We were amazed. He preached to us about the story of Moses and the children of Israel, and God's moral law that says, "Thou shall not kill." Then he told us his personal experience.
We knew the commander and his men were in need of spiritual food. We realised this was our opportunity to share Jesus with them. We gave some more Signs magazines to the commander and his men and started sharing Jesus with them.
The commander listened attentively but then he interrupted. "I have 200 men under my command and we need some Bibles."
It was a real challenge for us but we promised them we would bring Bibles for them in our next visit.
A few hours later in the evening, the commander released us. We asked if we could pray with them before we left. The commander accepted our request, signalled his men and we all stood in a big circle as I offered prayer.
The commander shook hands with us and said, "If you guys wish to build a church in the border areas of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia and need manpower, let me know and I will engage my soldiers to build the church."
We praised God and thanked the commander before we were released and escorted to our destination.
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19, 20. Obed Yama is a theology student at Pacific Adventist University, near Port Morseby, Papua New Guinea.