Ereke died October, 2013
When we first saw Ereke he was painfully shy, peeking out from behind his father’s knee. At that time he was four years old, maybe five. His mother had died when he was an infant leaving him to be cared for by his grieving father and one older brother. They did not live in the village of Fiyawena where we had built our first home in the jungle, but had arrived there because of the death of Ereke’s Aunt soon after she had given birth to a baby girl. We were bottle feeding his Aunt’s newborn daughter and a few relatives had come to see the marvel of a baby drinking milk that had been purchased in town. They had never seen a cow or goat and couldn’t imagine the origin of the bottled milk.
Ereke was small and soft spoken but he quickly captured our hearts with his sweet smile. We noticed he had an unusually large stomach that didn’t match his toothpick limbs. It was obvious his distended belly was a result of parasites so Susan showed him compassion by treating his condition in hopes to improve his health.
Ereke was the pride and joy of his father Samuwel, and followed closely in his shadow. We didn’t see him very often until we moved to the village of Kulufuntu in 2008. By then he must have been 13 but the persistence of the parasites in his abdomen had obviously stunted his growth. He was not daunted by his small stature, however, but proved to be a very hard worker. He split logs into planks alongside the men as they built a new house for his father. He was often hiking through the jungle with the young men during the day gathering vines, poles and other jungle materials in order to finish the home. Some of the village boys had to be prodded to gather firewood each afternoon, but not Ereke; he would often arrive just before dark with a load of firewood that would make an adult male boast.
When we taught the first literacy class in Kulufuntu, Ereke was there and he quickly learned to read and write. Later when we taught the story of Creation through Christ, he was faithful to attend the entire two months of teaching. When we spoke with him afterwards we found he had trusted in Christ for a relationship with God. In the following years when more of the villagers worked hard to learn to read and write, Ereke was a tireless tutor, spending hours coaching them toward accuracy (He is wearing the white cap in the picture to the left as he is helping Feyo read the Bible. Feyo is the young man who is on the front of the book Canopy of Darkness).
We don’t know why Ereke was at the Lagaip River last month. We only heard he was crossing an old vine bridge when the rotten railings broke, dropping him into the raging water. We heard Faimpat and the other horrified villagers were helpless to save him since the mountain people don’t know how to swim. We heard how they spent day after day searching the miles of river edge looking for him, hoping and praying for a miracle so they would find him alive. We heard his body was finally discovered this month and that the men buried him in the river valley. We heard this has been a huge blow to the believers, especially a woman and her newly married daughter who are showing signs of reverting to their previous fear of evil spirits.
Please pray for the Hewa right now. Pray fervently at this point when the believers have finished teaching the message of the cross. Pray the villagers will not give in to their previous dread of evil spirits and accuse someone of having caused Ereke to fall into the water and drown. Pray instead this will be a turning point in their minds so they will trust in the Almighty Creator for salvation and an eternal relationship with Him.