I am honoured to have been given the "honourary" position of head deaconess--as I am the only female with permission to go "inside." My husband and I laugh about the title! Each Sabbath is so special--not just because it is the Lord's day but because we again have the opportunity to witness with "our boys."
Recently, we witnessed 30 of "our boys" and two of "my girls" go into the water of baptism--what joy there must have been in heaven that day!
To be called Mumma and Pappa--or Mummy and Daddy--to be greeted so warmly by these men who are "inside" for murder, rape or armed hold-ups, is something I would never have thought of when reading Matthew 25:36, "I was in prison and you visited me." What a privilege to be a part of their family!
On another recent Sabbath, we celebrated the "Lord's Supper." Imagine more than 150 men whose hearts and lives have been turned around, sitting on the floor inside the "walls of wires" that make up our church.
As the service continued, the elder invited us to find a friend and wash each other's feet. I went outside the wired walls, inviting those who were sitting along the nearby wall of the cell to follow the example of Jesus and take part, if they so desired. I told them it was not only for "us" who were church members or those who attended each Sabbath. What a thrill it was when some of these other men came and joined in such a special service. After all, this is Papua New Guinea and the kalabus--where men are "men" and these men are "inside" because they didn't want to be humble!
After a time, when I had finished foot washing and was sitting waiting for the rest of the men to finish, I noticed an inmate come inside. He seemed to want to take part.
The elder asked if there was anyone who had not washed the feet of a "friend." There was silence until I said I had already taken part but was happy to wash his feet, if that was OK with him. We found space on the floor and joined together in foot washing and prayer. Little did I realise how much the "service of humility" meant to him.
Two weeks later after church, I was talking with a group of inmates, when I heard a quiet voice saying, "Mummy, mummy." I turned to see the shy man whose feet I had washed two Sabbaths earlier.
He continued, "Mumma, mi laik givim yu samtin" ("Mumma, I want to give you something").
Knowing he would have nothing "inside" that he would not require himself, I thanked him, adding that I really did not need anything.
With a little more conversation and with tears, he lifted a packet of three biscuits, similar to Sao biscuits, saying, "Plis, mi sori tru, mi nogat narapela samting long givim yu, long tok tenku--yu wasim leg bilong mi" ("Please, I am very sorry that I don't have anything else to give you to say thankyou--you washed my feet").
With a lump in my throat, I replied, "Tenku tru, but em monin kai kai bilong yu, yu kai kai em. Taim mi wasim leg bilong yu, mi bihainim leg mark long Jisas--yu no nid long tok tenku" ("Thankyou very much, but these were your breakfast, you eat them. When I washed your feet, I was following the example of Jesus--you don't need to thank me").
But I could see he wanted to show his gratitude. So with tears in his eyes and mine, I accepted the biscuits as he said, "Yes mumma, mi lukim Jisas, taim yu wasim leg bilong mi" ("Yes Mumma, I saw Jesus when you washed my feet").
I thank my heavenly Father for the opportunity to serve Him. I thank Him for giving me the opportunity to go "inside" and be mumma to our "boys"! But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus--the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 20:24. Margaret Davis lives in Lae, where her husband, Reg, is building supervisor for the Papua New Guinea Union Mission.
This story is used with permission from Signs Publishing Company. More of these stories can be found in these collections: Ordinary People—Extraordinary God, Ordinary People—Faithful God, and Ordinary People—Generous God