Why I became an Adventist—Simeon Nara

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My name is Simeon Nara. My village is Dagua, in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. 

I have a Catholic background. My mother was a very faithful Catholic, but not my father. He did not go to church because he considered himself a “big man” and was indeed like a god unto himself. I went to a Catholic school until I was expelled due to being silly. I did not attend classes or prayer meetings, and was sent home after only completing Grade 1.

I was surprised God saw the plan inside of me to walk out of the church and, therefore, he controlled the missionary from asking me. I went home satisfied–there is a God in heaven, He knows everyone, even our plans and desires.

I have five siblings–two sisters and three brothers. They all went to the Catholic school. My parents sent me to a government school. I successfully read a Grade 3 book and was enrolled into the grade. The following year I did Grade 4 and 5.

I did not know anything about Seventh-day Adventists growing up. The only time I came across Adventists was during choir competitions in Wewak, where Nagaum Adventist School won most of the singing prizes. 

I completed Grade 10 at Brandi High School, Wewak, in 1969. The following year I went to Goroka Teachers School where I did a year of a high school teaching diploma. I did not complete these studies.

I started working for the Commonwealth Bank, where I was very successful. But heavy drinking habits caused me to have an accident and I spent nine months in hospital.

Working at the hospital were nurses from Wuvulu who were Adventist. I would give them money to purchase cigarettes. However, they would say, “Sorry our church does not allow us to touch cigarettes”.

After I got out of hospital, the New Britain Oil Palm Development accepted me to be the company’s settlers liaison officer. This position involved payment of oil palm fruits, doing pays for settlers and negotiation for oil palm prices. Whenever company trucks did not pick settlers’ oil palm fruits, I would lead out in the negotiations to find a solution.

When my company house was under repair I stayed with my parents in our oil palm block. It was during this time I met Nenek Taos, a very faithful missionary from Mussau. I was drunk and challenged him, saying if his God could help me overcome my bad drinking habit I would become an Adventist. This was a joke so to speak—I was trying to make fun of him. But I also said if he returned next Sabbath I would not get drunk, but wait for him for a Bible study.

He was faithful. He kept the promise and I waited for him. The Bible study he shared was the seven last plagues. I was touched by the study. This went on for two to three years. I would sometimes tell my wife, Elizabeth, to tell him I was not home, but he was faithful during these years.

My most thrilling experience came when I was in Kimbe. I bought a pack of cigarettes, lit one and smoked it. The missionary came up behind me and embraced me. He said, “Good morning son. Are you OK?” I was angry inside; he caught me red-handed smoking. I was so ashamed. The change I received after paying for the cigarettes I ended up giving to the missionary. 

On Sabbath he hired a vehicle to come to the house and take me to the church. This was the very first time my wife and I went to the Seventh-day Adventist church. I told my wife, “This is it. If he tells everyone in the church he saw me smoking, I am walking out of the church and never returning, and I will stop him from visiting me.”

We sat in Sabbath class, and he went around to everyone in the class asking, “Have you stopped smoking, chewing the beetle nuts, drinking?” But when he came to me he did not ask me. That was the point of my conversion. 

I was surprised God saw the plan inside of me to walk out of the church and, therefore, he controlled the missionary from asking me. I went home satisfied–there is a God in heaven, He knows everyone, even our plans and desires. 

After three years of telling lies to the missionary, hiding at times, I was finally baptised.
 

Simeon Nara and his wife, Elizabeth.

The missionary brought to me an application to take up ministerial training at Sonoma College. I left work and went to the college. The only school fee I ever paid was K60. I do not know who paid my college fees; I believe the college did. 

The Sonoma principal at the time was Richard Anderson. The head of Theology was Pastor Peter Roennfeldt. Lynn Webster was one of my lecturers.

I graduated in 1980 and started working with the New Britain/New Ireland Mission. South Pacific Division President, Dr Barry Oliver, was the local mission president. We worked together for the next four years.

I am currently in my second year as chaplain to Adventist politicians. It is hard, but with the trust and confidence the members have in God they will come when I go out to visit them. 

My first ever meeting with them was very successful. They said (we could meet for) one hour but we went on for three hours, even during a parliament session. 

This is a great opportunity for the Church in this country. It is new ground and territory, but with God all things are possible.

Simeon Nara is chaplain to Adventist politicians in Papua New Guinea.
 

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