A stocky young Tari man from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea was employed as a security guard at a nightclub owned and operated by an Australian businessman who lived there. One night, a young university student came to the nightclub and demanded to get in free of charge. He was obviously drunk and no-one was able to reason with him. When things got out of control in the confrontation, the security guard stabbed the student. He died instantly.
The next day, the relatives of the deceased got worked up about the whole situation. They came in huge numbers, looking for anyone from the Highlands to kill in revenge for the death of this young university student. Payio was an easy target. Every home, property and business owned and run by the Highlanders went up in flames as the mob of mourners came, destroying and looting everything and anything they found along the way.
Payio's establishment was one of the largest in town and it attracted them. They came toward it in huge numbers. Quickly realising the danger, Payio sent his wife and children to the wife's village, which was not far away. He ran away, and hid in a stretch of swamp and muddy puddles among the bush. He burrowed deep into the watery mud like a swamp creature, and remained hidden except for his eyes and nose. Payio saw the mob coming with all sorts of weapons and knew if someone found him there, he would be killed. He kept praying and asking the Lord to take care of him. He was not worried about his property--only his life.
Payio remained motionless during the ordeal. The crowd came toward his warehouse, shop and home with torches to burn them down but as soon as they reached Payio's property something strange happened. For some reason, the crowd quietened and walked off as if some powerful force confronted them. Payio wondered why they would do that. There was no-one around except for a few people who were not part of the conflict.
What could silence this angry mob? he wondered. They had come with loud cries, shouts, and curses, but when they reached his property, they had quietened and walked calmly past. They then resumed their shouting and looting as soon as they were past his property.
Payio was confused. He could not work out why this group was acting so strangely and lay in the mud the whole day. When the crowd dispersed in the evening, he came out and went to his house. He had a shower and decided to sleep in his warehouse.
As the sun rose early the next day, Payio was not sure whether he was still safe. In a country where revenge is ongoing and time does not necessarily take the sting out of emotion, he still felt insecure and vulnerable.
As he was sitting, there was a knock on the door. After a mental struggle, Payio decided to open the door. Right in front of him were the relatives of the boy who had been killed. These were the people who had wanted to kill him and destroy his property. When he met them, Payio lost all confidence. He was going to die. Maybe he would be burned to death with his property.
Instead, the group asked Payio if he could give them baby powder and baby oil to embalm the dead body for burial. Payio gave them everything they needed and more. He donated food items and other things they might need for the occasion. When the group left, he knew God was with him. God had done something in these people's hearts so they did not harm him.
But still Payio wanted to know why he was left untouched. He let some time pass to allow emotion and bad feelings to subside. When everything had returned to normal, Payio asked them why they had not destroyed his property. It was then that he realised God had kept His promise. When the crowd came to Payio's property, they saw a huge number of police in uniform. They were guarding the premises with automatic rifles, so the crowd had quietened down and walked silently until they were well away from Payio's property. The crowd thought Payio had organised the police but he had no connection with them. Even if he had done, the police force had few personnel and they would not have had the means to contain the crowd.
No-one knew who those police were or where they had come from but Payio believes they were not ordinary police but angels from God, guarding a property that Payio is using to partner with God.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare of the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. Psalms 91:1, 2. Joseph Talipuan is director of personal ministries, Sabbath school and stewardship for the South Pacific Division, based in Wahroonga, New South Wales.