Worth the Cost

By Rachel Greco

What began as a normal recording trip among the emerald isles of Papua New Guinea became a nightmare for Stanley Gereo and Bennis Tuka as they encountered traveling challenges at the end of the trip.

Near the middle of March, the two recording technicians traveled to the remote village of Kait on New Ireland, an island province home to the Kandas people. The people already have the Kandas New Testament, published in 2019, but they longed to have the JESUS film in their language.

Stanley recording one of the Kandas men

Before Stanley and Bennis even went to Kait to dub the film, those who were going to read the parts for the narrator and Jesus, concerned about getting their parts right, had made a three-hour boat trip to Stanley’s village for coaching.

Stanley and Bennis were encouraged that the Kandas people had practiced their parts. Even with extra practice, the man who read Jesus’ part was hesitant at the beginning of the dubbing. But when it was finished, he said he was blessed as he read the words of Jesus.

Bennis records one of the Kandas speakers
A Kandas man reads his part for the JESUS Film
This building was used as the studio where the team recorded the JESUS film.

While in Kait, Bennis and Stanley were invited to speak at a few churches of various denominations, a good opportunity to share about the importance of having God’s Word in a language people use every day and understand clearly.

Prior to their departure from the Kandas village, Stanley and Bennis learned that a COVID-19 lockdown order prevented interprovincial traveling and operation of public transportation. Getting home was going to be a challenge!

Bennis, who’s from Kavieng, a town on the northern tip of New Ireland province, had to charter a boat to Kabanut village. There, he had to find a truck to get to Namatanai. He had trouble finding a place to sleep in Namatanai and finding a vehicle—they were expensive and he didn’t have much money. He needed a driver who would trust him enough to wait to be paid when Bennis reached Kavieng.

Finally, after three days of searching, Bennis was able to hire a private vehicle to take him to Kavieng. The challenge continued as he learned he needed special permission due to the lockdown order.

Finally, after obtaining the permission paper from the police station, he and the driver left Namatanai and drove two hours until policemen stopped them. An officer told them, “‘No one, not even the governor, may pass this point without a letter from the [ruling authority]!”

Bennis waited and prayed. Three hours later, one of the officers finally allowed them to travel on to Kavieng with a promise that the driver would bring back the letter from one of the ruling authorities.

Finally, after 10 hours of traveling, Bennis arrived at his home in Kavieng!

Meanwhile, Stanley, unable to find a boat to take him to his village on Lambom Island, waited for six days in Kait. Providentially, he learned that the husband of a primary school teacher from his village was traveling back. They shared the cost of the trip, and Stanley made it home safely.

Although the travel was difficult, both Stanley and Bennis deem it worth the cost. They said, “We are very happy that the Kandas people can finally watch the life of Jesus and receive the word of life in their language!”

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