During a morning prayer time on outreach to Fanning Island, in the Line Islands, a woman on our team got the word “Katawa.” When we arrived ashore that day she asked everyone she met through a translator, “Do you know this word: ‘Katawa’?” Someone told her Katawa was a man who lived in the next village.
The next morning, at a church service, we asked the interpreter where Katawa lives. He pointed us in the general direction, then left. Four of us stopped to eat lunch near the beach before heading over to find him. As we were preparing to leave, we began to wonder what we would do if he did not speak English.
We prayed and then asked two young boys to show us Katawa’s house. We were led to a small shelter and met Katawa there. He was sitting on a mat on a concrete floor. His right leg was amputated above the knee due to complications from diabetes, a common problem among the Islanders.
Katawa spoke English and was very happy to have visitors. We explained that we were with Youth With a Mission and told him the story of receiving his name during prayer the previous day. He told us that he had taken a ship to Christmas Island the year before and had surgery there. While we were there, his kids stopped by to bring him food. We learned that he was estranged from his wife and that their kids lived with her down the road.
We shared stories and sang some songs, which he really enjoyed. Then we prayed for him. When we left he asked if he could get some books to help him remember English.
Three weeks later, when I returned to Fanning Island, a friend and I went to visit Katawa. Some Islanders loaned us bikes and we enjoyed the ride on the dirt road alongside the lagoon. We found the place where Katawa had been but he was not there. A man told us he was two houses to the north. At that house a man said he was five houses to the south. At that house a man said he was at the house past the maneaba (village meeting house) to the north!
Finally we found Katawa’s son and he took us to his father, who was in a new shelter near the lagoon. He was happily with his wife and kids. He said, “I am working now, helping with the seaweed.” He was very happy! His wife and children welcomed us and brought us drinking coconuts.
Katawa asked for some pants for his son and I was able to drop off some clothes for the whole family a few days later.
It is so amazing that God in Heaven gave us the name of a man we did not know and sent us on a journey to find him. Our obedience in following the nudge of the Holy Spirit somehow seemed part of bringing this family back together again. I am really looking forward to returning to Fanning Island and seeing Katawa and his family again.
Captain Ann Ford
YWAM Ships Kona Staff