It was a beautiful sunny weekend in Papua New Guinea and we were on a mission. A boarding school, which provided its students with two meals of rice daily, was about a 45 minute drive out into the valley. We had decided that this week the students were going to eat some greens (aibika, or island spinach) and sweet potato with their rice for additional nutrients, so we set off in our car to find some.
We drove to the main market in town, but it was closed. We carefully eyed the stalls along the highway, but they were only selling betel nut, maggi noodles and fruit. We stopped and looked at the market nine miles from town, but no one was selling vegetables. We crossed the Markham River and kept our eye out for an open stall.
After a little while we saw a group of people sitting in one of the wooden stalls with some bags, so we stopped and enquired if they had produce to sell. No such luck. They were just sitting there waiting to get a ride to another village. We explained what we were trying to do and asked if they knew of anywhere that might be selling such things. One lady, acting as spokesperson informed us that if we could drop the others off at the village, she would come with us and show us where to buy the produce, and once we were done we could drop her off at the village, also. Feeling somewhat nervous about having this group of strangers (which included men) in the car, we consented to her plan.
True to her word, after dropping off her friends and family she directed us to a tidy village then led us to a particular hut. After a brief discussion with the occupants in their Tok Ples (local language) a lady produced some large sacks of sweet potato. Another discussion ensued to determine price, and we handed over the agreed amount and went on our way. Our guide then led us further down the highway to another village. This time, after a chat with one of the villagers, we were led to a vast garden where its owner immediately harvested a large amount of aibika for us to purchase.
Very grateful for the lady's assistance, without which we would never have accomplished our goal, we dropped her off at the village where earlier we had taken her relatives, thanking her profusely for having gone the extra mile for us and for the school.
The Bible talks about this extra mile. Following the Beatitudes in Matthew Five, we find Jesus telling the multitude just what kind of people God wants us to be. He wants us to be giving, loving, forgiving, gentle, going-the-extra-mile people. He takes the Ten Commandments and then says to do more. Being a follower of Jesus is much more than not killing, not stealing, or not having affairs. We need to go further and take good care of the people around us—including our enemies. We need to love them, bless them, do good to them, and pray for them. In verse 48, he says, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
I know God has a lot of work to do on me before my character will be like His. I take heart from what Paul writes in Philippians 1:6 "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” I hope that we all can be as selfless and as giving as the Papua New Guinean woman in my story—going that extra mile for the sake of others.
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