And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us — Yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17, NKJV)
"Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us," was no doubt the prayer of Sidney and Wanda Knox as they arrived in Papua New Guinea more than 50 years ago. The beauty of God's love and holiness was readily apparent in their commitment as they plunged into their early ministries: learning the language, cultivating relationships, distributing medicine, establishing strategic preaching points, teaching, discipling, and constructing necessary buildings. God was transforming lives daily.
However, in the midst of their service, Sidney was diagnosed with cancer and the family returned to the U.S.
When Sidney died in 1958, Wanda experienced one of the lowest points in her life, but she continued to feel a burden for the people of Papua New Guinea. Two years later, Wanda and her two children returned to Papua New Guinea to continue the ministry there.
Wanda and Sidney Knox are only two examples of the many faithful, obedient missionaries who have displayed God's beauty of love and holiness during 50 years of missions in Papua New Guinea. Psalm 90:17 promises that God will establish the work of their hands.
Preaching points grew into 12 districts in Papua New Guinea and now include more than 14,000 members in 475 churches and missions.
The medical ministry that began as a dispensary operating from the back door of the Knox's home grew into a clinic, then finally into a fully organized nursing college and a hospital treating more than 4,000 patients and 50,000 outpatients each year. The Bible school that started with a class of six is now Melanesia Nazarene College, with nearly 300 students.
The work of the missionaries and presence of the Church of the Nazarene in Papua New Guinea is apparent through Alabaster buildings, radio programs, published literature, and in the present national leadership. Papua New Guinea Nazarenes sent missionaries to open the work in Solomon Islands 12 years ago and continue to send missionaries such as Jenny and Peter Isaac, now regional missionaries to Vanuatu.
The affirmation of God's promise is always on transformed lives—those who continue the commitment and display the beauty of God's holiness and love.
When I spoke at the Kudjip church in Papua New Guinea in March 2006, I met Mama Nua, wife of "Papa" Andru Kos (now deceased), the Knox's first convert.
Papa Andru's sons, Tini and Gola, represent how God established the work of Wanda and Sidney's hands into the next generation--and the work of their hands will continue into generations to come. Let our prayer also be that the beauty of the Lord's holiness will be upon us as we love Him and His people around the world.
May we continue to obey God's call and trust Him to establish the work of our hands. I challenge you: Share the story. Tell others how God is establishing the work of your hands. Let them see the beauty of the Lord in you.
Nina G. Gunter is a general superintendent [now emeritus] in the Church of the Nazarene.
Holiness Today, May/June 2007
Please note: This article was originally published in 2007. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.