Stephen Erickson


Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

There was a man whom I will call Leo. He was not Gogodala but came from another part of PNG to work at a logging camp in our territory. He began attending our annual camp meetings in Kewa and was soon baptized. At the logging camp, Leo led a group of people in Bible studies and worship services. Whenever he came to camp meetings, we supplied him with study materials to help his group.

Later, while on a routine trip to Port Moresby to get supplies, I received a text message from Leo. He also happened to be in Port Moresby at the same time. He was staying with another Adventist man whom we knew but had not seen or heard from in a long time. “We would like to come and talk with you,” Leo said.

Hmm. It will be good to see my friends again, I thought. But why is he suddenly wanting to see me now?

We settled on a time, and he and two other men drove out to our transit house at Pacific Adventist University, fourteen miles outside of Port Moresby, on a Sunday afternoon. It was a beautiful, warm day, so I put chairs outside on the veranda, and we sat down in the shade to talk.

“What brings you out on such a beautiful day?” I asked, breaking the ice for our discussion.

Leo reached into his bag and pulled out a rolled-up sheet of heavy, white paper. Unrolling his scroll, he proudly revealed a campaign poster professionally printed in full color with a picture of himself wearing a suit and tie. “I am running for the top leadership position in your district,” he proclaimed, “and I need your help.”

Can he be serious? I thought. I doubt he has finished high school, let alone college or university. All kinds of red flags were popping up in my mind.

“What qualifications do you have to fill this high-level government position?” I asked. “What kind of experience do you have that would make you a qualified candidate? Have you ever run a business of your own?”

Leo responded confidently, “I have experience in leading people.” Then he pointed to his poster, which, in bold letters under his picture, said, PASTOR LEO. “I have been pastoring those people at the logging camp,” he continued, “and have traveled around the district. I have support from all four corners.” Sadly, I knew that although Leo sincerely believed he would win, there was no chance he could.

In PNG, many men talk about becoming a big man (political leader). But should having political power be the goal for believers in Christ? Is being the top dog in government a worthy ambition for Christians? Even Jesus’ disciples squabbled about who would be the greatest in Christ’s kingdom (see Matthew 18:1 and Luke 22:24). Jesus denounced their misguided aspirations saying, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves” (Luke 22:25, 26 ESV).

Please pray that our people will have heavenly aspirations. Pray that we all will aspire to have Jesus living in us as our Big Man and that the kingdom we seek is not this transient world but Christ’s eternal kingdom.

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