When God calls, I hope my answer is “Yes Lord here am I.” When I first felt Him calling me to the jungle of Bougainville I was both excited and perplexed. I assumed the mission would be to capture the fascinating history of the people’s fight for freedom. Well, that may be a part of our journey but I’ve come to understand that that is not the focus at all. But before we get into that I think I should start at the beginning of how this has all come about.

Two years ago I met Royree Jensen while in Phoenix Arizona. Our mutual friend, Patricia King, introduced us. Royree is a pastor in Brisbane, Australia, and former missionary in the South Pacific, but more than that she is a woman that has carried a desperation to see an outrageous move of God on the earth for close to forty years.  It seems like within moments of meeting her she began to tell me about the unique history of this island. She had written a book about it titled, “Sons of Thunder.”

 For anyone interested it is available at http://store.xpministries.com/products/sons-of-thunder-by-ryree-jnsen?variant=733892533.

I love stories, especially great God stories, and this is just that. Here’s the high points: Bougainville has the 2nd largest copper supply in the world and a vast supply of gold as well. In the mid-1980s, Bougainville was and is part of Papua New Guinea and while they were not big benefactors of the mine, PNG seemed to be doing quite well. In return, the mine was polluting the land and waters. Fish were dying and the land was not able to grow coconuts. In late 1988, a resident of the island demanded a new deal and for the pollution to stop. The mining company laughed at him. What they failed to realize was the indelible independent spirit that lives deep within the psyche and culture of this people. Eventually, some men of Bougainville blew up the mine and formed the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA). The fight for their land was on.

These are deeply spritual people.  To quote Royree’s book, “they believed that God was on their side in the crisis. This belief fueled both the fight and the seeking of the favour of God by the the military and citizens alike.”  A man named Ishmael Toroama rose to leadership. He heard the voice of God tell him, “you will take the first gun of the conflict”  – they had no weapons.  He used a fishing gun to capture an M16 and an SLR, and those were, in fact, the first weapons captured.  A David had arisen to slay Goliath.  The ingenuity and creativity the islanders employed to survive, fight, and grow strong is nothing short of supernatural.

The next ten years proved to be a bloody and costly battle but the unsophisticated BRA eventually drove out the modern army from PNG. They signed a peace treaty and part of the agreement was that Bougainville would have an opportunity to vote for independence, to become their own nation. That vote will come up in the next two years.

After the war ended, a spectacular, powerful move of God came to the island. Supernatural occurrences were common, like people walking on the water with lots of witnesses to the fact. When Royree got to this part of the story I knew what had drawn her to the island.   I also didn’t have to spend much time with her to understand why the residents of Bougainville had fallen in love with her as well.  After reading her book I was hooked. But it wasn’t time for me to go. The idea of this fascinating island eventually slipped from my mind.

And then on January 30, 2016, while packing for a trip to California, I heard God speak one word to me, “Bougainville.”  Little did I know that Royree was also in California at this time and God was speaking to her about this formidable island as well. We were both in for quite a surprise.

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  1. Wayne Baldridge says:

    I love these God stories. I need my own God stories. I have but a few for being almost 84. I need my faith stretched.

    1. Sondra says:

      We are so glad. Thank you for telling us.

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