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Quiet, tireless worker demonstrates faith on foot in Papua New Guinea

Siggy Lonua, right, and one of her students, Nesain Tangot, distribute World Bible School lessons by traveling door-to-door in Papua New Guinea.

By Erik Tryggestad
The Christian Chronicle

December 1, 2005

At just over 5 feettall, Siggy Lonua doesn’t stand out in a crowd.

But fellow churchmembers describe the quiet 25-year-old as a spiritual giant, a crusader forChrist in the South Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea.

She’s also a Bibleteacher’s dream pupil, said missionary Les Williams.

“Siggy is one ofthose who quickly expresses a desire for deeper conversations,” Williams said.Most of his teaching is “basic, foundational lessons for those who are justcoming to know God,” but Lonua asks “questions that are refreshing andchallenging as a teacher.”

Today, Lonua is ateacher herself, grading and delivering World Bible School correspondencelessons to students. She also teaches classes about religion at four areaschools. One of them is about an hour’s walk from her home, but Lonua said shedoesn’t mind the journey, even during the rainy season.

“The more I learn,the more excited I am to teach the word of God to children,” she said. “Somedon’t come from Christian families and I want them to also know him. It’s amust.”

Lonua “teaches us theword of God and helps us to follow his words,” said 16-year-old Nesian Tangot.“The students really understand and don’t find it hard.”

Lonua, who was unableto complete her own schooling due to poor health, never saw herself as ateacher. Her Christian faith changed that, giving her a sense of purpose — andself-worth.

“I used to feel likeI was nothing, but Christ has taught me that I am something,” she said.“As Les (Williams) says, ‘We are saved to serve.’”

Lonua’s home is the village of Mutuyuwa,near Alotau on the eastern tip of Papua New Guinea. The country of5.9 million people shares the world’s second-largest island with the Indonesianprovince of Papua. Travel books describe it as araw, untamed land of varied terrain.

For all its naturalbeauty, much of Papua New Guinea lacks basic conveniences. Lonua livesin a house with a thatched roof and walls made of bark from the sago tree.There’s no electricity or running water. She helps care for her nieces andnephews, gardening, cooking and washing clothes and dishes in a nearby river.

In 2001 missionariesMarcus and Diane Reese visited Lonua’s village and began studying with her.Lonua completed a World Bible Schoolcourse and was baptized in 2002. She is an active member of the Alotau church.

Without a car orbicycle, Lonua walks for hours through Papua New Guinea’s rugged terrainto reach her classes.

“I have never seenher complain or grow weary in what she does for God,” said Caroline Kaidoga, ateacher at Alotau International School,where Lonua teaches Bible on Fridays. “Siggy has a gentle and quiet spirit,which (is) worth very much to God.”

She’s also unselfishin her ministry, Reese said.

“Recentlyshe handed over one of her classes to another talented local teacher and thestudents begged her to keep teaching them,” Diane Reese said. “She reassuredthem that they would grow to love their new teacher as well.”

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