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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 church members 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 Bible teacher’s dream pupil, said missionary Les Williams.

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

Today, Lonua is a teacher herself, grading and delivering World Bible School correspondence lessons to students. She also teaches classes about religion at four area schools. One of them is about an hour’s walk from her home, but Lonua said she doesn’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. “Some don’t come from Christian families and I want them to also know him. It’s a must.”

Lonua “teaches us the word 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 a teacher. Her Christian faith changed that, giving her a sense of purpose — and self-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 Indonesian province of Papua. Travel books describe it as a raw, untamed land of varied terrain.

For all its natural beauty, much of Papua New Guinea lacks basic conveniences. Lonua lives in 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 and nephews, 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 School course and was baptized in 2002. She is an active member of the Alotau church.

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

“I have never seen her complain or grow weary in what she does for God,” said Caroline Kaidoga, a teacher 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 unselfish in her ministry, Reese said.

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

Filed under: People

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