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"I Wonder How Beautiful Heaven Will Be!"

Published Oct 11, 2009

In 2006, Pastor James Naudi made a trip to the USA with my family and me. After a “night on the town” in downtown Cincinnati, complete with a Reds baseball game, a sell-out crowd, and a fireworks display, James made this statement: “Brother Matt, America is so beautiful….(pause)…I wonder how beautiful Heaven is going to be!?” 

Old Man Isaac
 Old Man Isaac

I thought of that story tonight when I got a phone call from Kotidanga, Papua New Guinea. Right now, I’m traveling in America, finishing up my furlough, and Pastor James called to pass along news about a man in our village, “Old Man Isaac.” (The term “Old Man” is an endearing term culturally accepted among the Kamea.)

The first time I saw Isaac was in 2004, when I hiked into Kotidanga to look for a piece of land to start a church and build a home for my family. When I saw Isaac, I thought to myself, “This old man is about to pass away!” He walked very slowly and could hardly see anything. We later found out that he thought I was his son who had died a few weeks before. You see, the Kamea traditionally believe that a white man is a resurrected Kamea.

Old Man Isaac 2
 One of my Matthew 19:29 100-fold “fathers”

A few months later, after many visits, Pastor James and I had the privilege of leading Old Man Isaac to the Lord. That day, as I walked down the path away from his house, I thought, “Lord, thank you for bringing us to this man’s village so we could get the Gospel to him right before he died.” I honestly thought he would not survive until the end of the year.  That was in 2004!

Old Man Isaac would make many, many treks to our house over the next several years. His house is closer to ours than any other houses in Kotidanga. Though our houses are only about 100 yards apart, Old Man Isaac would always take about 30 minutes to cross the open field.  One day, after sitting and talking with him for a little while, I felt sorry for him, and, in my American mind, wanted to help him get home. I had a 4-wheeler sitting next to my house, so I convinced him to hop onto the 4-wheeler behind me while I drove carefully across the field to get him home.  Never in my life have I felt someone hold me so tightly! The poor fellow had never been on a vehicle before and with his poor sight, he must have thought we were flying.  (I never got above second gear though.)

Tonight’s phone call announced that Old Man Isaac had finally passed away. It is October 10, 2009, and five years after accepting Christ as his Savior, Old Man Isaac has been ushered in before the King of Kings. One of the only people from the Kamea Tribe to ever make it to this throne room, Old Man Isaac is getting the shock of his existence! As Dad said tonight, “Can you imagine falling asleep in Isaac’s hut, and waking up in Heaven?”

Take a good look at Isaac’s face—the next time you see it will be in Heaven.

Old Man Isaac 3
 Isaac, I’ll see you in Heaven. —Matt