I don’t recall the first time I met Abilo, but I started to get to know him last year around the time that the owners of the land next to our mission house gave the property to us to use. Abilo’s father is one of the landowners who came that memorable Friday morning to ceremoniously hand the parcel over. Since then, Abilo has been coming regularly with Umina to help us clear the land. A soft-spoken young man 24 years of age, Abilo gradually became dearer to my heart. He is one of few Gogodala to have completed 12 years of school. He demonstrates good leadership and possesses a caring spirit. When our helper, Danny, got sick and went to the hospital, Abilo was one of the three young men who stayed by his bedside until his death, caring for his basic needs. This is work that is expected of a patient’s family members, and Abilo and his buddies felt it was their duty to take care of “Uncle Danny.”
But underneath his gentle exterior, Abilo has a bit of mischief. It usually shows up whenever a camera is around. While everyone else strikes a serious pose, Abilo can be counted on to make a funny face or wacky gesture.
When Abilo first started coming to church, I wasn’t sure of his motives. The young men who work for us often attend to show their support, and that’s okay. But we sometimes wonder if they are more interested in currying favor with us than in spiritual matters. The true test comes when we have to be away from the village for awhile. Abilo attends the services regularly whether we are around or not. Even at our Wednesday-morning predawn prayer meetings, Abilo will be the first one there, sitting with his flashlight and waiting for the others to arrive. In our Tuesday morning Bible class and in our Sabbath School class, he is actively involved in the studies, reading the Bible passages and answering the questions.
When our church elder was taking some time off to grieve the death of his wife, it was only natural for me to invite Abilo to assist in the worship services. He willingly stepped up to the challenge and performed his part responsibly.
Abilo has a desire to do what is right and to follow Jesus. Very soon, I believe we will see Abilo and his friends demonstrate their love of Christ by being baptized in the Aramia River. I believe God is bringing young people like Abilo to take up the work of church members who have passed away recently and to carry the gospel to the rest of the Gogodala people. Who knows? Perhaps his generation will be the one that will see Jesus come.