By Gary Martyn, staff writer
Taime Dirye has been a chaplain at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital in the highlands of Papua New Guinea for 20 years. People often travel for days to reach the remote mission hospital, which is known for providing excellent medical care. But the spiritual atmosphere of the hospital is also unique, as a place where the love of Christ heals bruised and broken souls.
Through the witness of the chaplains, medical staff, and visiting volunteers, as many as 1,000 people accept Christ at the hospital every year.
I was blessed to join Pastor Taime on his rounds one morning. As we moved through the wards from bed to bed, he seemed to know in an instant whether to just say hello, stop and pray, or sit on the edge of a bed, open his Bible, and share the Gospel. He ministered to patients, played with children, and comforted worried parents with ease.
“We visit patients when they first come in and pray with them before surgery,” he said. “I pray with them, read the Bible, and encourage the lost to give their lives to Christ.”
“This is Rebecca,” Taime said, introducing me to a woman who was sitting up in bed, but appeared to have a number of painful injuries. “I prayed with her and she rededicated her life to Christ.”
The pastor greeted Rebecca and patted her gently on the shoulder. When he moved on to the next patient, I paused beside Rebecca’s bed and said hello.
Both of her arms had been fitted with splints that supported broken fingers on each hand. She had bruises on her face and arms, two black eyes, and several wounds on her head that had been stitched closed. When I told Rebecca how I was sorry to see that she had been injured, she thanked me for my concern and began to tell me what happened. Her story made my heart sink.
“My husband beat me,” she said softly. “He hit me with his fists and beat me with a stick.”
Tears began to roll down Rebecca’s cheeks as she spoke. The emotional pain and sense of betrayal hurt her as much as the physical injuries she had suffered.
“According to our customs, women are very special,” she said. “A husband is not supposed to beat his wife. It should never be this way.”
I listened to Rebecca’s story and tried to encourage her along the way. Then I put my hand on her shoulder and prayed that God would give her comfort and change her husband’s heart. Only He could give her the lasting comfort and healing she needed.
I told Rebecca I would visit her again later, and caught up with Taime. He was talking in Pidgin to a 6-year-old boy with a broken arm who was surrounded by family. He had everyone smiling.
In addition to his work at the hospital, Taime is also an evangelist and church planter who has started 17 village churches. When he mentioned that he was 62 years old and planning to retire I was surprised. But then he laughed and explained that he was “retiring” to pastor a church full-time and to work on planting even more churches.
“I was called to be a pastor from the beginning,” he said, thinking back to his salvation, 25 years ago. “I will always be serving the Lord.”
Entering the pediatric ward, we passed a sign that read, “We Treat & Jesus Heals.” As I watched Pastor Taime humbly minister to the patients, he made me think of Jesus—showing compassion, sharing pain, praying for healing, and pointing the lost to salvation.
It was a blessing to walk the wards with Pastor Taime and see what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ.