Baptising a murderer reconciles families at war

Shortly before his baptism, Rex Krisai pleaded with the village to forgive him for murdering their friend—and the village forgave him.

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Minister Tango, Rex, Allan and Minister Prisca stand together with Bibles in hand, indicating a spirit of reconciliation.

Oppressed by war, bloodshed and violence for more than 10 years, Lakatu village in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province (Papua New Guinea), recently experienced powerful reconciliation that has brought peace.

A leader in the tribal violence, Rex Krisai, who had murdered a man from the village, repented and was baptised, while the family of the man he murdered forgave him.

In August 2010, Lakatu Seventh-day Adventist Church organised evangelistic meetings with volunteer missionary Minister Tango. War cries and gunshots forced them to cancel, and as violence began to escalate, homes and properties were destroyed, displacing families and eventually forcing the Adventist church to close.

“It was a terrible scene, especially when the act of murder occurred in the church,” said Willie Yavoto who buried the deceased.

Nine years later in August 2019, another week-long evangelistic meeting was again held in Lakatu village with Minister Tango.

“It was in this very spot that I fled for my life [nine years ago] . . . but now I stand here again to testify God’s leading in His own timing that I should deliver the message of God’s grace and hope for my people,” Minister Tango said.

Mr Krisai attended this year’s meetings and was inspired to be baptised, as well as make a public apology to the village, acknowledging his wrongs.

“Before I go into the water for baptism, I’d like to sincerely say sorry from my heart,” Rex pleaded. “Please forgive me for the evil I did to you, Minister Tango, Kivita family and church family. I’m changed by the blood of Jesus, have accepted His sacrifice, and I’m ready for baptism,” he added.

Brother of the deceased, Allan Kivita then publicly forgave Rex, leading the village to pursue reconciliation.

“On behalf of Kivita family, I forgive you for all those evils you did, and wish you God’s blessings as you affirm your decision through the water of baptism.”

The families hugged, cried and applauded as the program came to a close. The officiating pastor for the baptism of Rex and eight others, Pastor Ronald Luke, commended Rex, Allan and their families, and Minister Tango for inspiring the reconciliation.

“This is truly God at work,” Pastor Luke said. “The ministry of reconciliation given to us by Jesus is being manifested today.”

Pastor Luke then challenged the community not to let evil attitudes and actions overtake the village again and to encourage those who have not yet accepted Jesus to be inspired by Rex’s decision to be baptised.