I lay in my family’s typical Pacific Island open hut, listening and pretending to sleep as my mother recounted her memories of being in labour with me and my brother. She described being ministered to by traditional midwives and her joy in the middle of her pain, listening to her brothers catching fish from the seashore. It was a tradition to provide the mother with fresh fish to celebrate the birth of a child. In this case, twin boys. The story ended there as she was interrupted. I would not learn the untold story, a dark family secret, until years after Mother had died.
My mother’s joy soon turned to unbelievable sadness as a family feud erupted over what to do with the unexpected twin boys. At that time, twins were taboo, so a forceful decision that the healthy twin boys must be killed and buried was made. Holes were dug. But by divine intervention, the Lord worked through an uncle with medical training and my maternal grandfather to save the twins. My grandfather was paramount chief and claimed us as his own, naming us with names meaning we were placed under his protection. God was working to reveal His plan to a people steeped in spirit worship and pagan customs.
Some 18 years later, one of the twins returned from university during the Christmas holiday and shared with his brother and a younger cousin-brother about his Bible discovery journey—finding God and the Sabbath truth. With a quick visit to the local Adventist Book Centre to buy Bibles, hymnals and reading materials, and two Bible studies with a local Adventist pastor, the three boys set out to bring the good news about Jesus to their people on Takuu Atoll (Mortlock islands) found off the northeast coast of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. The people there had been exposed to outside influence for more than 120 years but had remained in their pagan cultures. They had resisted attempts by early missionaries to land on the island.
Sadly, the young mother died a few years after that first “missionary” visit. But she was part of God’s plan to deliver her people. Seventh-day Adventism has since become perhaps the dominant church on the isolated island, with hundreds of followers, many scattered throughout Papua New Guinea. Four decades later and by God’s divine plan the twins continue to share the love of God.
God has blessed those three boys, all with PhDs, myself in pharmacology, my twin brother in engineering, our cousin in computer and mathematics, and we still share the gospel. We were spared to reveal God to our people.
Verse of the day:
“But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded, but saved the male children alive.” Exodus 1:17 (NKJV)
You can read more inspirational stories of faith like this as part of the Adventist Heritage Month’s daily devotionals. Sign up or find out more at heritage.adventistchurch.com.
Dr Teatulohi Matainaho is one of the twins in this story, and is vice chancellor of Pacific Adventist University, Papua New Guinea. He loves reading the Bible, sharing the love of Jesus and spending time with his family.