Oct 20 2018 | Honiara, Solomon Islands |
It all began in 2014 when a group of young people from the capital of the Solomon Islands went on a hike in a mountainous jungle.
The young people — belonging to Ambassadors, the stage after Pathfinders Master Guide and for ages 16 to 21 — met a single mother living with her children in a hovel. Touched by her plight, they handed over their food and spare clothes.
After the encounter, the group decided to hike to remote places regularly to deliver food, medicine, second-hand clothes, and Bibles. Led by Spink Mahuta, youth leader at White River Seventh-day Adventist Church in Honiara, they began to engage in what they called “Jungle Ministry” every free weekend.
Early Friday morning, the young people board public transportation — the back of a three-ton truck — and travel to the end of the route. Then they hike with their gear until evening and spend the night sleeping in the open jungle. On Sabbath, they hike the rest of the way to a remote village and send a local scout to ask the chief or head elder for permission to enter. With his permission, they enter, split into teams, and distribute care packages.
The young people spend the Sabbath with the villagers, finding out what they need, praying with them, and studying the Bible. They sleep in the jungle on Saturday night.
Returning to the village on Sunday, they help widows, harvest crops, and assist in other ways. Afterward, they share whatever food remains in their backpacks and return home.
“The group keep their connections with the village. They make sure to return in the next few months and follow up on how they are doing,” said Clare Baldacchino, an Australian who stumbled across Jungle Ministry and, impressed, alerted a reporter at Adventist News Online.
One of the group’s more memorable hikes ended in a village called Tamboko. Although the scout received permission for the young people to enter, a villager with a bush knife chased them out when they spoke about the Sabbath. The disappointed hikers returned to the jungle to sleep. As usual, they had no tents or other shelter.
Among the hikers was Danny, a relative of youth leader Spink, who had been born with a heart condition. He wasn’t as physically strong as the others.
Unfortunately, when the young people reached home, Danny fell ill and died as a result of sleeping in the wet jungle.
Two weeks after Danny’s funeral, the young people decided to return to the village and visit the angry man. They prayed and fasted before making the long trek back to the village.
To their dismay, the man remained unreceptive and unwilling for them to stay the weekend. He did, however, say that they could stay the night if they left at dawn.
The group felt dejected.
The next morning, as they packed up to leave, the man ran over and pleaded with them to stay. He apologized profusely for his behavior.
“Clearly the Holy Spirit worked on him,” Clare said with a smile.
The young people now consider him to be a dear friend, and he is eager to learn more about God’s Word.