A group of ministers and I recently made a visit to Kompiam District in the Western Highlands Mission of Papua New Guinea. During the trip, one of our colleagues, Pastor Inia Yari, took us to the exact spot where he was almost killed two years ago.
Tribal fighting in the Kompiam District (Enga Provice) escalated greatly in 2017. On one Sabbath morning, the conflict entered the grounds of the local Adventist church building and pastor’s house. Members were gathering for worship when gunshots from both tribes rang out, prompting would-be churchgoers to scatter in all directions.
Caught in the crossfire of the two warring tribes, Pastor Yari, who was serving as district director at the time, ran out to stop the gunmen from entering the church. As he waved his hands and pleaded with them to stop, a couple of shots were fired directly at him, missing him “by an inch”.
Pastor Yari is a former defence force soldier who was involved in the Bougainville crisis in the 1980s. It was during that time he made up his mind to serve God, eventually quitting the defence force and attending the Omaura School of Ministry.
Pastor Yari’s previous military experience, however, means he has a knowledge of guns. He explained to me that the tribes were using M16 rifles and other high-powered weapons when they shot at him from about 50 to 60 metres away.
Pointing to the bullet holes in the church’s old metal water tank, Pastor Yari expressed with emotion his gratitude to God.
“God saved my life, twice,” he told us. “[First] in the Bougainville crisis and [then] in the tribal warfare in Kompiam district because He has a better plan for me.”
Currently serving as an ordained minister in the Western Highlands Mission, Pastor Yari said he is “very thankful” to God and will continue to “serve Him faithfully until the last moment.”
Pastor Leighton Kasimo is Stewardship director of the Western Highlands Mission, Papua New Guinea.