ANOTHER INTRIGUING STORY FROM THE PACIFIC
No one is out of his reach – Ybie’s Story
It was early in the morning, the sun had not risen, and all I could hear was the rooster getting ready to crow. I wasn’t sure if I was still asleep or not … you know what that’s like. When suddenly I was sitting under a tree and up from behind me came Jesus. He was smiling and we shook hands. I knew it was Jesus. I had heard about him when I was young. Some 70 years ago there were still some missionaries on our island, we had a terrible past with lots of bloodshed and cannibalism. It’s how we dealt with our enemies. But the message was told, and later when I married, my wife had been named after the missionary’s mother, Winnie. So I had heard about Jesus but He is not who I followed. On my island there are many beliefs, but the one that was mostly followed in my village, apart from the local medicine man, is called a cargo cult. John Frum. Everyone is waiting for him to return to us and give us riches. We are expecting him to come through our volcano, which is very big and always blowing hot steam and rocks.
But I have been very unsettled lately, something has not been right with it all. And the chief of our village has been not nice to me, there is no peace. Even though I have a good wife and four children, there is something missing.
So here I am, sitting under the tree talking with Jesus – this is not a dream it is too real. He told me that he is everywhere and speaks all languages (not many could speak our language) our small island has many, many villages and we all speak different languages. So I was amazed that he spoke so well. He said to me that I must follow him. Then he said “Come” we shall walk the trail together. It was wonderful. We talked many things. Then we came to a large tree that we have on our island, I don’t know what it is called in your language, but it has very, very red fruit the colour of blood but very sweet. He said sit and I will give this fruit to eat. But before we ate, he broke it open, and wiped some on my forehead and face. Then we ate together and he told me that I must follow Him and sing a song that he taught me till he comes back again. He said he would be coming back soon.
Then he left. My song can only be sung in my language but I have been singing that song now since 1975.
My song tells everyone who listens that Jesus is coming soon.
My life changed that day. I no longer wanted to go to the nukamel, which is the local carver drinking spot, or to the Frum meetings….so…
Not long after this happened I knew I should leave the village of my youth and move away with my small family to a spot closer to the water source, about 2 kilometres away. And Jesus blessed me with another son, I called him George. So I was Chief of my own little family.
As Chief we follow strict protocol. Anyone who comes to our village has to pay respect to me, and they have to listen to whatever I say. So, you know what I do, I tell my story that Jesus is alive, and I sing my song that Jesus is coming back soon. They have to listen.
Of course after many years everyone on the island has heard my story, and they have to listen to it each time they come, so not even my children are sure anymore … but I made a promise to tell about it.
One night about 4 years ago I was spending time talking Him. He felt so close I was sure he was coming, so I got up from my bed and put my best outfit on, and then I lay on my bed and waited. The next thing I heard was my son saying “Father what are you doing in your best outfit?” “Oh” I said, “I felt sure Jesus was coming and I wanted to greet him well dressed.” I was disappointed. But I know he won’t be long. He has been my constant friend.
The years have past and my village has grown. Life has been good to us. My youngest son is now married with three children so far none of my children have followed Jesus. They think I am just an old man who dreamed a dream, but they are good to me.
My people have struggles and want to progress, we grow coffee beans to pay for our children’s education and small provisions. But the greatest need we have is to have water in our village. We have had experts from all over the world come and tell us that it is impossible. You see, our island has plenty of springs of water, beautiful water, clear and clean, but always in difficult places. Our spring is in a steep decline some way from the village itself. We are much closer than we used to be, but the hard part is still down that very difficult slippery tree lined bank. We don’t know how to make steps so we climb down amongst the tree
roots 500 meters or half a kilometre. And then we carry up the same bank 5 litre or 20 litre water containers at a time. Water is slopped out as each step is difficult to get a grip on, and that makes the path very slippery, tree roots are the best to hold on to. When I say we, I mean the women and children, that is their job, everyday more than once. If anyone is sick, then it is collected for them also.
The U.N. came to us and said that if we SHOW we are doing something about this, then they would fund us some pipes. DO SOMETHING! What are they saying? My people have lived like this forever and no one has been able to DO something. I pray.
My second son is now the elected Chief of our village. I am very proud of him. Although like the others he has not followed in my ways, and thinks that to worship John Frum is still best. My youngest son George has three children but the money we earn from our coffee beans is not enough to pay for their education, so he has had the opportunity to go fruit picking in New Zealand for three months. He has never left our shores before so this is a big thing for him.
Before he left, we had our village meeting and the chief and the elders asked that when he went to the white man’s world, he might find someone who could help us with our water problem. Many years ago a white man married one of our people, a tribe very far from us and to thank them he gave the village a ram pump and it has been working all this time. Their water source is very close to them and not like ours. As I said ours has been told it is impossible to fix. BUT we still have hope. Maybe GOD will be good to us. We have been trying to save some money by having village BBQ’s but it takes many years to get a small amount. We are very patient people.
I came to New Zealand. How very different it all is. I tell my people that in NZ people live in houses on top of each other. The old people think that I am just kidding them, no no they say, why would anyone want to do that, it can’t be true. So much to learn. Of course I now know of 2 and 3 story buildings. But to my people it is very different.
My job went well but one day after working very hard for 6 weeks, I got a pay slip and could not see the money I earned. I was very worried, had I been working for nothing? What would I tell my family? As I was looking at my paper and trying to understand English, a man came up to me. I saw him walking past with two dogs. I tried to hide by lying low as I was on the beach. But he kept looking at me and said “Is there anything I can do to help you, you look like you are having some troubles?” He seemed kind and asked me if I would like to come to his house across the road so we could sort this out.( I told him later that I wasn’t sure if he would catch me and eat me, ha I am only joking). But I was very scared and looked for the door so I could run if I needed too. I had nothing to worry about. They were very kind and sorted all my problems. After that they asked me to come and have a meal with them and we talked of many, many things. They asked if I believed in Jesus, I said I did because of my Father. But it was different, everything was different and I liked it. We spent many good times together and I waved goodbye. I forgot about the water, all I knew was that they had a different life and I wanted it too.
On returning to my village I talked to my wife Madeleine, we shared all that had happened, so we both decided that we wanted to follow Jesus and committed ourselves to serve Him. Everyone said “What has happened to George?” He doesn’t come to our political meetings, our carver drinking meetings, or our men’s meetings.
I wanted to come back to NZ, to see my friend and learn more about the Christian life. Also I needed to ask them about our water situation. I felt sure they would know what to do.
My son returned a different man, what happiness to have him talk to me.
He has brought a small blue piece of metal. He says that this is somehow the answer to our water problem. I look and look, can this little thing help us? But my son has a light in his eyes and a hope in his heart. What can I say? He tells us that his friend from NZ is going to come to our island to make this thing work. We are quiet. He is very sure.
Sure enough, Adam came to see us. He is the first white man to stay in our village so there is much excitement. We have had a young peace core man come to see us and live on the outside of the village, but no one has stayed with us in the village.
Excitement was in the air. Adam was teaching us how to make steps and wooden paths to get down to the spring. He got us to make a dam by pouring concrete to hold the water in. But no one thought that this could give us water, it was just exciting to have someone tell us what to do. Everyone except George looked at him with kind eyes, as if to say “poor white man”….. but we continued.
The day came when Adam said we would test the pump with its hose rising up the steep bank, and then up to the highest tree, to get a good fall to run to the village some distance away. First thing in the morning he said. It was a long night but before dawn we all gathered waiting. Some even stayed the night so as not to miss out. Even if it failed, which we were quite sure it would, it was something new and exciting. During the night poor Adam had eaten some manyoke and had become quite ill. But he couldn’t disappoint us, so, with much prayer he walked down to the moment when all would be known. Silence….whispers and shuffling in the grass was all that could be heard. Adam, with sweat on this forehead in great faith started the pump (which has to work without any power, just water) set it to start. A noise was heard in the silence, and another, and more and more. Then he looked up with a big smile and said go check the hose. There was a great roar … then a deep silence again, and all that could be heard was a deep groaning and weeping with many tears , as everyone just stared at the beautiful clear water falling from the tree high above the top level. No climb to get that …what a day. We will never forget that day. The women and children cried the most.
Then very quickly the young men got more hoses to send the water further on to other villages.
About 200 people were blessed that day. On each pump Adam and George have set a scripture in the concrete to testify to God’s goodness John 4.14.
Since then there have been 15 pumps installed and more to go, which means that around 3,000 of our people have been blessed.
Before he left from his first visit, we had a village feast to thank God … and Adam. There were lots of speeches and people came from all around to say goodbye. When it came time for Adams speech, he thanked us all for our hospitality, and then he turned to me … me. He said that he wanted to thank me for my faithfulness in holding to on to the word that Jesus had given me and telling my story. Everyone looked at me. But the look in the eyes of my sons was full of respect. They look at me differently now, tears came into my old eyes, my life is good, very good.
I am an old man now. I don’t know how old I am, we don’t count the years on our island. But I do know that through all these years Jesus has looked after me. My son George is learning and teaching me the bible, something I never had. There have now been more visits from our NZ Christian family and last time 16 new baptisms including myself. I was too sick to reach the river so they brought a bit of the river to me. I was very, very happy. I can meet my Jesus ready.
So that is my story. I have said that it could be told, so that others can hear how a man can live a good life with great rewards if he puts his trust in Jesus. I am now resting and waiting for Him to come and get me. So listen to my song…. “Jesus is coming, the Light is coming, He is coming soon”.
This story has been taken from all the facts that have been presented to us over a period of time.
Ybie has given us his permission to tell the story, and for the man in England to do what he thinks best with it. He is very honoured to have to have had this opportunity.
Also, most of all, we all give thanks to our loving Father for the amazing missionaries that went to these islands in the late 19th century. Some gave their lives, and some many years of struggle.
It is to them we owe our gratitude, for they left the seeds of truth behind them and to which Ybie owes a great deal.
We also have been greatly encouraged to know that a man can live an honourable life serving Jesus alone, against any spiritual fellowship with his fellow man, and after many, many years still have the light in his eyes and hope in his heart, that he is not alone. And that his saviour is with him and coming again.
That does our hearts good and we hope that can encourage our fellow brothers and sisters that in these times feel also sometimes alone. God bless.
Incidentally, Ybie went to be with the Lord on the 9th of June, 2012 – shortly after Shirley sent us everything you have just read.