Years ago, when missionaries first arrived in their little village in the swampy jungle of northwestern Papua New Guinea, Nayen and her husband Powi were anxious to prove their righteousness.
They believed that God would accept them if their performance was good enough, and they did the right things in the right ways. Their neighbors secretly derided them as gossips and hypocrites.
But neither their own misconceptions nor the attitudes of their neighbors could keep God from working in their hearts. As they began to see and hear the message of grace, Nayen and Powi eagerly responded to the offer of freedom from guilt. God began to transform their lives.
Within a few months, Powi died from his chronic liver problems. Nayen never faltered in her faith but instead blossomed in her understanding of the Gospel and its implications in daily life.
She persisted in learning how to read in her language. Her desire was to know her Savior. When she was not out gathering their daily food, Nayen would spend hour after hour sitting cross legged on her veranda practicing reading Scripture. Her young daughters would enthusiastically take turns helping her with pronunciation.
Today, Nayen gives spiritual guidance to other widows and younger women. She is learning to find verses to be an appropriate response to others’ questions.
She has shown godly restraint when she has been slandered, she has shown true interest in the needs of others, and she is willing to publically align herself in opposition to myths of her ancestors.
In her own quiet and committed way, Nayen is evidencing the fruit of the Spirit working deeply in her heart.