Extend your made-up borders

WE in PNG don’t have circuses. We see them on television and in movies but many folks haven’t seen a live circus. In fact, I remember only one circus I attended as a kid somewhere in the city, probably in the 1970s. It was excellent and had the whole works – acrobats on swings, animals performing tricks and clowns doing their stuff!  The typical circus atmosphere of joy and exhilaration was brought to us to experience. Some years later came the infamous “Circus Bruno”! Sadly, this outfit was a real flop and ended quite disastrously for the organisers and even for the animals, which I understand were abandoned! I believe that was the last attempt to have a circus in the city. Some years ago, I read an interesting account of an overseas writer’s visit to a circus in his hometown. His story interested me because, apart from his description of all the interesting happenings at the circus, he soon focused on one particular animal. He talked about a huge elephant that he saw tied with a small rope to a peg next to one of the tents. The animal lay resting and when he got up to walk around, he would go only as far as the rope would allow him to. When the rope was taut, he would turn and walk back. It seemed he was trained to stay within his limits. The gentleman was greatly intrigued. He asked the keeper how he trained the animal to be obedient and remain within the limit set for it. The keeper explained that when the animal was still quite small, he was tied to a huge pole using a thick rope. The animal would try to break free and would pull, struggle and fight against the rope until he was exhausted. This happened over and over and it wasn’t long before he got the message that he was not to venture beyond the boundary set for him.  As the elephant got older and bigger, he got used to being roped, and so when the size of the rope was reduced, it made no difference. The animal continued to remain within his marked boundary! The writer used that analogy to describe how it is with many people. For example, a father who continues to berate his child for doing something wrong, telling him that he is useless and will amount to nothing, is in fact setting boundaries for that child. These negative words will enforce the belief in the child that he is truly useless and a loser in life! Things like negative words, previous experiences of loss or defeat, and fear of failure will keep someone ‘roped’ in and will never experience any breakthroughs in life.

Like a large elephant “conditioned” by a rope from a tender age, humans also tend to be confined by experiences of the past.

The importance of boundaries
Boundaries, however, are important. For example, railings with meshed wire around the veranda are necessary if there is a toddler playing around there. He could crawl off the edge and injure himself. Speed limits on the road are set as ‘boundaries’ so motorists don’t go speeding off the road to their deaths. Prescription medicines should be taken within the required dosages given by the doctors, and traffic lights must be obeyed for all to be safe! These are boundaries of sorts and are necessary in helping us stay safe. However, there are negative boundaries too which are detrimental to our lives. These are what we discussed earlier and they are the cause of many people remaining in a mediocre state without walking into the destiny God has set for them! What are some things one can do to break from the ‘rope’ and move forward into a new destiny? There is a story in the Old Testament that illustrates this so well. In fact, it is a prayer that was uttered by one who too felt so ‘roped’ in by his circumstances at birth. His prayer and its subsequent answer carries wonderful lessons for us to follow.

Jabez’ prayer of faith
We read the story in 1 Chronicles 4:9 and 10 about a man called Jabez. The Bible says, ‘Jabez was more honourable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.’ (ESV). ‘Jabez’ means pain, grieving or sorrowful. His mum called him that because of the painful circumstances at his birth. It could have been a difficult birth that caused his mother a lot of physical pain, or maybe her circumstances in life at his birth were not favourable, causing her grief, sorrow and pain. In any case, she had ‘tattooed’ on him the name with those painful meanings.  That was as negative as you can get and it was quite a ‘rope’ that held him bound for years. But the Bible says he was “more honourable” than his brothers. That means, while he may have had an unfavourable start to life and he knew only pain, he was kinder, loving and in general a better person than his brothers. This may be because he feared God. However, it was the pain that he grew up with that he wanted to be free from. Jabez asked for blessing. He was not afraid to ask God to bless him. It seems he had trusted God as he grew up, hence having the kind of character that made him honourable. But the pain of his upbringing must have been too much for him.  So in asking for blessing, he became specific: ‘enlarge my borders’! Jabez’ parameters had been set. The boundary was drawn by the pain of his early years and it may have been expected that he would remain that way forever. But not Jabez! He wasn’t going to be tied to a peg and left there. As far as he was concerned, it was time to break up, break forth and break free! He considered that this was an excellent way to leave the pain of his earlier life behind. He was determined to enter into a new destiny God had set for him. It was time to move on. Nothing else is mentioned in Scripture about Jabez. He appears out of nowhere on the pages of the Bible in just 2 verses, and then disappears again forever. It seems the purpose of his appearing is so the Lord could teach us the fact that despite the difficult circumstances of life, you can never be tied down and remain helpless for ever. This short text demonstrates that the power of prayer, coupled with the faith to believe God, can move mountains and change circumstances and situations. The last 6 words are the sweetest to hear in such a situations: “And God granted what he asked!”

What is your situation? What limitations or boundaries have been set over you? What kind of words were spoken over you that are holding you down? Maybe you have been entertaining negative self-talk and have yourself to blame. Or are you struggling with the fear of failure, and are thus ‘tied’ to a stake and cannot be free? Whatever it is, God wants you to trust Him to break free and move into His destiny for your life. Let me conclude with the words of the Prophet Jeremiah over you: “I (God) alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for” (Jer 29:11). May that be true for all of us!

  • Rev Seik Pitoi is a freelance writer.

The good, the bad and the ugly

THE Air Niugini Forker 28 landed precisely at the time announced by Captain earlier upon decent into Aropa airport, Kieta, then North Solomons Province of PNG on 10th November, 1981. I reached for my real drama bestselling (Drug Det Frank Serpico) I’d started on my two hours flight from the seat pocket in front of me and waited for excited locals returning home rushed out before I made my way to the door and collected my .38 service revolver from the air hostess and disembarked from the plane. In my hand was one of the two Lae Fraud Squad old briefcases contained documents that would deprived someone’s liberty. My Arawa equivalent and I exchanged greetings before picked up my luggage and made off to Toniva in unmarked sedan. Toniva, a small beautiful suburb of Kieta township where Davara Hotel was located on the white sandy beach looking across the Pokpok Island. Detective Sgt Randall helped me check in before he drove me to Arawa where the provincial police command was for me to register my arrival, nature of work and duration in Bougainville in the occurrence book. After a brief with the detective in charge and courtesy call on the PPC, I was driven back to my hotel for the first day in Bougainville. The ensuing days saw my gamble with my boss back in Lae who was doubtful of success, netted in my prized commodity but the timing almost freaked me out after our first attempt failed. By sheer luck the crim dropped something and returned for it when nabbed. Back in Lae earlier on, I was so excited about my first investigation outside Morobe and didn’t quite get the basics correctly prior to traveling. Just a phone call trap on my man and off I went after him to the land of the sunrise.

Thriving Bougainville

Bougainville at that time of mining boom was the most advanced island in PNG. Industrious and competitive like no other in the country apart from Port Moresby, Lae, Rabaul and Mt Hagen. The CRA operated Bougainville mine was the cream of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea employing every nationality on the globe. Life was on the fast lane and our currency on par with the Aussie dollar but slightly under the US currency. The goods in the mining township were so expensive that public servants were really struggling with the high cost of living. The suspect was taken to Arawa Police Station Fraud Squad office where a formal interview was conducted, and he was charged and locked up. In day three of my Bougainville mission, the suspect was brought before the Kieta District Court and hid case transferred to the Lae jurisdiction due to the originality of the crime there.
However, due to the airline security issues for prisoners on board, I remained in Bougainville for two weeks before taking my prisoner to Lae and where he had his court case, convicted and jailed. The wanted man was from Central and employed by DAL Poultry at 10-Mile, Bulolo Road before the Markham Bridge. After defrauding the State, he left without official resignation and went to his relatives who owned a store in Kieta.  A search with Air Niugini in Lae confirmed his flight path. A phone call to detectives in Arawa advised me of a Central man owning a mini supermarket in Kieta. Another call to the phone number for the shop in the directory confirmed that the suspect lived there. I’d posed as a relative concerned over him not being at his work place in Lae and made that brief call. Detective Sergeant Major Micah Anaiwe was a thorough Fraud Squad boss who placed me on chasing after dishonoured cheques for six months before advancing to do real fraud investigations when I first joined the privileged unit.

Rewards of success

I had become very popular at racking in cash for major business organisations including SP Brewery in Lae. Their cash were receipted and indemnified – no cash was unaccounted for as would be today. These businesses felt good about me and sent me gifts during Christmas and Easter. SP Brewery would pile beer cartons right up to the rooftop in front of the factory and invited major customers including me to go get them. About three years in a row, Lae police celebrated their Christmas and New Year operations with beer donated by SP Brewery, soft drinks from Coco Cola, meat, sausages and bread from all the supermarkets in Lae. Not every celebration was peaceful, policemen fought each time they got drunk. One such event spilled into regional clashes between Sepiks and NGIs and when our NGI colleagues realised defeat, they engaged the services of PNG SP Games super heavyweight champion, Alphonse Wakore who hailed from Talasia, WNBP. He played by the rules while our Sepik hero from Wallis Island did the street fight and technically knocked out the gold medalist cold. That event discouraged me and there was no more Christmas/New Year parties with donations from the business community. Time and circumstances have changed as I moved on in life’s journey and the spoils of youth in Lae and Morobe lingered on – safely tucked awar in my memory hard drive.