In 1997, the Bishop family became missionaries for the Gogodala project in Papua New Guinea (PNG) with Adventist Frontier Missions (AFM). When Jeff Bishop left Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he had been teaching for the past four years, he missed his students. After arriving in Balimo, the Middle Fly District of the Western Province of PNG, he met a teacher who was the principal of the Balimo government elementary school, Daniel Sewanene.
One day about a month after the Bishops arrived in PNG, Jeff asked Daniel if he could take a video of a few of the teachers’ classrooms so that he could send the video back to his students at Grand Rapids Junior Academy.
After filming the video in the kindergarten classroom, where a woman named Alice was the teacher, Jeff stopped by the next day to thank her for letting him take a video of her students. He then told her that he had already sent the video to his students back in the United States.
After Jeff informed her of what he had done with the video, Alice asked Jeff if he would get her a book the next time he went to Port Moresby, the capital city of PNG, but unfortunately, she couldn’t remember the name of the book. She said that she had been listening to a radio program a few days earlier and the person on the show had mentioned that his listeners should purchase that book in particular. She had sensed that this suggestion was very important.
Jeff wondered if it might have been Adventist World Radio (AWR) that she had been listening to, since they had a radio program in PNG. Jeff decided to pick a book that he thought could have been suggested on the radio program, especially if it was AWR. So he asked Alice if the name of the book was The Great Controversy. Alice exclaimed, “YES! That was the name of the book!” Jeff was very surprised that he was able to accurately guess the actual book she sought.
Determined to help, Jeff went to see a government worker named Judah. Judah was the only government official Jeff knew, so Jeff went to Judah’s office to see if there was a phone he could use to order The Great Controversy. Judah told Jeff that he had the only government phone in Balimo City, but that the phone didn’t always work, but he could try.
Jeff was able to contact Les Anderson, the manager of Adventist Aviation, who was also a pilot, about getting him The Great Controversy. Les said that he was going to the union office in Lae the next day and would pick up some books for him. He mentioned that the union office was selling a three-book set including The Desire of Ages, The Great Controversy and Steps to Christ for 5 Kina. Jeff ordered five sets of books.
The day before Les was scheduled to drop off the books in Balimo, Jeff asked Judah again if he could make one more phone call to Adventist Aviation to see when Les was due to arrive at the Balimo airport. However, the phone did not work. In fact, that phone never worked again the entire five years they lived in PNG. God had enabled the phone to work just so Jeff could order Alice’s books! Within just three days, Alice received her set of books, and began reading The Great Controversy.
A few months later, Alice was in the Balimo Medical Center. With no running water, electricity or doctors, this center was not a hospital, however, they did have a roof over their heads, windows for light to come in, and nurses. Alice was suffering from asthma and having a hard time breathing. The nurses were trying to find a vein to insert an IV to give her medicine for her breathing, but just couldn’t find a vein anywhere.
As Alice lay there thinking she was going to die, she started considering accepting the Sabbath, which she had read about in The Great Controversy. Then all of a sudden, she said, “OK, God! I accept it. I accept the Sabbath, and I will keep it.”
Immediately after making that decision, the nurse found a vein and inserted the needle so they could give her the medicine. The medicine immediately solved Alice’s breathing issues and she survived. Alice eventually became the first person in Balimo, after Jeff and his family arrived to start the missionary project, to request baptism into the Seventh-day Adventist Church, because she heard about a book called The Great Controversy on AWR in Balimo City.
When Jeff traveled back to Balimo in 2012, a full 10 years after he had to return to America, he met with Alice to see how she was doing. She told him that the government eventually asked her to move to Awaba Village on the Aramia River and teach at the Awaba Secondary School. Whilst there, she was able to convince village members to start a Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Jeff witnessed God’s handiwork and it was nothing short of a miracle!
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By Jeff Bishop