on fire in papua new guinea (6.04pm)

they set her on fire.

broken people living too far to one side in a broken world.

fear and hate seeped like fumes out of the cracks in their selves and their beliefs. it exploded when it hit the air and she died in the middle of it.  when her life burnt up—-it felt as if faith, hope and love were burnt to black in the hearts of those watching without insisting stop. in the hearts of those who forgot death is only god’s to deal.

this girl-woman. i want to imagine through fear and pain, she called out to only SAVIOR.  her welcome home in full with only forgiveness left behind.

despite deep in love with this island heart home, i choke on temptation to let despair birth from my disbelief and disappointment. it presses against my always hope for better than this. different than this. no more of this.

to push back, i close-my-eyes-breathe in the smoke of different fires.


village fires of my childhood. fires warming me still, an ocean away.

fires that do not destroy people, but lift and draw them toward each other.

side of the road, grass burning. heavy equipment that etch-a-sketched gravel lines into the shag carpet green long broken down. there is no repairing here. only attempt to hold back growing green that demands it’s way,  and a making do.

they make do.  they take what they have and they make it into doing. growing, gathering, giving.

they burn the jungle back to hold their place in it. clearing room for seen-from-sky brown patch gardens.

they burn survival.

in the middle of survival, they burn celebration.  hello and goodbye. marriages and milestones. a call for deep heat burned into rocks placed with purpose beneath turning-ash-grey wood.  at dawn digging readies the ground to receive and smooth green banana leaf stacks wait to wrap generosity.  pressing hard into life for the getting leads to giving with a weight you can feel.

when stars come out the way stars come out in storybook sky filling, fires are lit again.  flames warm faces of anyone-is-welcome. history is handed back and forth for it’s keeping in once again telling. nodding of grayed heads and bursts of youth’s laughter.  Next morning there is a circle of ash that whispers of gathering.

they burn community.

when the last of the branches are only coal bright on end and late night insists on claim….they drift away.  leader taking hold of branch coal-bright on one end. blowing until flames make a comeback.  then dancing circles of follow me move in different directions. they burn lighting the way. to rest and restoration. to where belonging lives. to home.

the fires of papua new guinea they are the shine like cross of five bright stars in a country not unexpected because i expect GOD.

the god who

turns followers into leaders.

turns weak into strength.

takes hopeless and fills it with hope.

who opens our eyes to glory when all we can see is the burnt up.


when the members of the sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. but stephen, full of the holy spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of god, and jesus standing at the right hand of god. “look,” he said, “i see heaven open and the son of man standing at the right hand of god.”

at this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named saul.

while they were stoning him, stephen prayed, “lord jesus, receive my spirit.” then he fell on his knees and cried out, “lord, do not hold this sin against them.” when he had said this, he fell asleep.

and saul approved of their killing him.

on that day a great persecution broke out against the church in jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout judea and samaria. godly men buried stephen and mourned deeply for him.

acts 7.54-8.2 (NIV)


photos taken in port moresby, png. courtesy of r. karcher


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