Tooldee is one of few in our area who still remembers when the Japanese overtook their village during World War II. He is a little old man with lots of spunk. He is barely 5’ tall and with his slight stoop seems even shorter. His toothless grin and high pitched voice draws your attention and he is always willing to sit and exchange stories with you. Unfortunately for years he has resisted coming to hear God’s Talk and has thrown proverbial rocks at those who do want to hear telling them they are wasting their time. That is all changing now!
Let me take you back first 10 years ago when I was still learning the Patpatar language. I squatted across the fire from Tooldee in his dirt floor, thatched hut. I was working on learning household nouns and this grandpa figure was eager to help. Two words that he drilled over and over again were ‘fire’ and ‘rock.’
A few months passed and once again I sat across from him in his hut. He was eager to do the ‘object game’ with me and began to name objects. When he got to the words for fire and rock, I thought I would have some fun with him and pointed to the opposite object. Frustrated he tried to straighten me out, but I again called them the wrong thing. After several attempts he began to shake his head and said, “You are never going to get this language.” Later when he figured out what I had done we had a good laugh together.
It wasn’t too much later though that the joke was on me. All the men in the village were sent up into the jungle to gather rolls of bark. I was paired up with Tooldee. When we finally reached our destination he pointed out the two trees we were to cut down with our machetes and strip off the bark. Mine was half the size of his, but before I had finished cutting mine down, I heard his tree hit the ground and he came over to finish chopping mine down. He then stripped the bark off of both trees and gave me the smaller roll. I laughed to myself that this little old man thought he could carry more than me down the mountain. But 45 minutes later, with the little roll on my shoulder, I was straining to keep up with Tooldee as we finally entered the village. To this day he talks about how I helped him gather the bark.
Today, he is not as strong as he was back then. His eyes are failing him and he doesn’t go into the jungle much. But his mind is sharp, his ears are good and for the first time for the last few months he has been coming to hear the teaching of God’s Word without missing a lesson.
This week once again I sat with him in his hut. He was eager again to talk to me but this time he was pointing to the Rock of Christ. He said: “When I heard from the teaching how they whipped Jesus I sat and cried because I knew it was for my wrongs that he was being punished. For my whole life I used to think that it was my works and my goodness that would get me to God, but it is only by God’s work. I believe in Jesus’ death on the cross of Calvary. His blood was big enough to pay for my sin. He took my sin, died and was buried with them, but they’re no longer there, he rose and they were finished. I’m old now, but whether I live or die, I believe in Jesus alone and will go to meet God when I am done here.”
I had almost give up hope for my little old friend, but God had not. Now he is my brother in Christ. Thank you to those of you who have been praying for this outreach. There are others in the group who have trusted Christ as well. Please continue to pray that more will accept Christ as their Savior as we do more review lessons and continue on in the study of God’s Word.
Bearer of the small roll of bark,
Fact: Please pray for another older man in the group who is a leader and has made it clear he will not accept the Gospel message. We would appreciate prayer that he does not succeed in pulling others away from the truth, and that he himself would come to believe.