This is the third in a series of stories about my mother, Elaine Knadle, and her missionary trips to Indonesia written by my brother, Edward. He accompanied her on one such trip.
The Mentawai Islands are a series of islands off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, and there are not many foreigners who get there, ever. Fifteen years after my (Edward’s) visit, a large part of the islands would be swept clean by the great tsunami of 2004 and hundreds of thousands would be killed.
But it was 1989, and for the next few weeks or so, Pastor Nainggolan, mother, and I traveled by dugout canoe (some with little motors on the back) to a number of the islands, and were able to minister to quite a few people.
One evening, we arrived at dusk in a village and were taken to our host’s home. It was not much more than a small shack. By the light of a lantern on the front porch, we began to sing praise songs to Jesus as our host played a guitar. It was dark. We weren’t singing loud, but you could see a few people quietly coming from different directions to sit in the sand in the front yard of this residence. Then they raised the lantern a little higher, and mother and I saw several hundred people sitting there listening to the music!
Maybe we were the highlight of the month, these strange singers from America. Pastor Nainggolan translated as mother preached for fifteen minutes or so. Then I preached for another fifteen minutes, and we gave an altar call, and virtually everyone raised their hands to accept Jesus as their Lord. Wow! It was something!
Several interesting things happened in the islands. Once, we were coming into a village by canoe. We rounded a bend in the tree-lined stream, and I noticed five or six women washing clothes in the stream. One of them screamed and ran toward the village, yelling in a loud voice. The others stood, looking at us intently, some smiling, some not; but then they all broke out in smiles and excited talk as we got closer to shore. I realized all of sudden that mother was smiling from ear to ear and waving. The whole village turned out to see us because mother had already been there previously, and everyone was excited to see her again. Come to find out, a whole lot of them had already received salvation because of her previous trip to that village. I felt like Timothy arriving with Paul to a place where Paul had already preached Christ.
If God can use one over-fifty, over-weight woman, do you think he can use you? The answer to that is “Of course, he can!”