“Son, wake up! Get up! The sun is going down and it is time for you to eat,” Unai cried.
But the young son, not even 2 months old, didn’t respond.
Unai and her husband, Yanis, sat on Keith and Angie Copley’s front porch last week, mourning for the first hour or more.
The Hewa people in Papua New Guinea are extremely vocal when they mourn, and the crowd that gathered shared the sorrow, anguish and tremendous grief of the moment.
“Yanis is a true brother in The Lord that has labored vigorously many hours over translation and teaching material,” wrote Keith. “Yanis is one of the sharpest men I have had the privilege of working with. His wife is a beautiful believer that seemed to be the perfect fit for a leader in the church.”
The young couple married about 18 months ago and little Jon was their firstborn.
“Yanis has worked tirelessly to teach the Hewa people God’s Word. He has taught the Hewa people to read so that they can see for themselves what God’s Word says. He has an incredible, deep understanding of God’s Word.”
Through tears Yanis spoke of the future he wanted for his son. “He was going to do God’s work and teach all over these mountains and I was going to go with him and support his ministry, and now he is gone.”
Through the night and into the next day, as the village prepared for the funeral, the mourners would read Scripture and sing songs of God’s salvation between times of wailing.
At the funeral some of the men shared Scripture and their thoughts. Was said, “My parents told me the spirits wandered around and went to that waterfall over there, or that they went to [other villages].” Then he laughed and said, "It was all lies. Now if we believe that Jesus paid for our sins we know that our spirits go to God's ground and if not we go to the fire.”
When darkness came that night, there was about an hour more of wailing. Keith noticed Yanis and Unai slipped off together and headed to their house before anyone else left, exhausted from 36 hours without sleep. Both of their voices are completely gone.
“Pray for them,” Keith wrote. “There were times at 3 or 4 in the morning that I woke up and heard Unai crying. There will be lots of days of sadness in the future. Pray for Angie and me to have wisdom as we seek to be a blessing and encouragement.”