The Difference is Jesus

Not too long ago, Kelina wasn’t your ideal mother. She would spill her anger over onto her three children, hitting them every day. She never used an empty hand to hit them, but would use rattan to hurt them. Her children were scared of her.

“I started to hit them when my husband wasn’t at home.

“I don’t know why it was so easy to get angry with my children. All I know is that when they wouldn’t do something that I had asked, I became angry and started to smite them. My anger was known as a common and frightening morning greeting for them.”

Kelina lives in Wamena, West Papua, a small city on the western side of the remote island of New Guinea. Wamena women are known as caring people and responsible mothers. Even though they have two major responsibilities, to go to the farmland and take care of their children every day, they still have love to share with their family.

That responsibility encourages Wamena women to be strong against all challenges. Even when they receive challenges from the unpredictable weather, they always try to give their best. In the middle of the difficult conditions, they still are able to give their love and time for their family.

Wamena women think creatively with the resources they have to survive. Even though they do not own farmland themselves, they rent farmland from others. To pay the cost of the rental of the land, they will share half of the crops with the owner of the land.

Although Kelina owned her own land, she didn’t want to take care of it. She had a bad attitude toward it. As a wife of Yosep, Kelina never showed her thankfulness, preferring to blame her husband, who didn’t work and couldn’t support their needs.

“I liked to get angry with him. I even have hit him because he couldn’t support our family financially.”

Kelina didn’t know how to give her love to her family in appropriate ways. Since she was young, Kelina’s parents never taught her.

Kelina also did not have a good relationship with God, even though she was born in a Christian home. She didn’t go to Sunday school very often. She preferred to stay at home and sleep rather than to go to church or have a daily prayer life in the morning.

“I never knew that building a relationship with God would help me to deal with anything. I just know when I feel angry, I can hurt anyone I like to hurt.”

Kelina’s bad attitude didn’t stop at the front door of her house. Kelina liked to gossip about the things going on in her neighborhood.

Kelina once had a fight with one of her relatives who asked for food. She gave her answer with one slap to her relative.

Her bad attitude became a trigger for her to fight with everyone. But then everything changed.

As a mother of a baby, she was registered with 34 other mothers in a Child Survival Program in Wamena. It was through being a part of the program that she realized her habits were bad.

“I realized I had done a lot of things that hurt everyone. I knew about that from the information that our implementer shared in our meetings.

“Our implementer tells lots of things that remind us to change our bad habits. She taught us not to hit our children. She said that I could teach my children through my attitude as a living model every day. I really thank God because I could join in the program and have a better way of life.”

Realizing that her habit all this time was wrong, one day Kelina started to find God. She confessed her sins.

“I now ask God to lead my path. I ask for wisdom and have started to have a daily prayer life. I try to start to read the Bible to understand what is called love.”

Together with the growth of her spiritual life, Kelina never misses a chance to share the love that she got. She’s become eager to share God’s love to her children every day.

Kelina has become calmer. No one hears the angry voice of a rough mother in the morning anymore. Kelina does not hit her children anymore. She likes to make requests of her children more politely.

The woman who didn’t want to share anything has also become a generous person. She likes to share anything she has.

woman sitting on bed with young boy

But the transformation was not just accepted automatically by her children. They were not really sure about the love that she wanted to share. Her children thought that it suddenly could disappear one day.

“They thought I showed my kindness just for a glance. At first, they still didn’t want to stay near me.”

But after a long struggle to convince her children, Kelina won their hearts. Kelina also has been able to teach her children how to behave.

The woman who never taught her children to take a bath now never misses a day to ask them to do it. Kelina draws the water from the well each day to keep her children clean and healthy.

Even though she still lives in a honai, a Papuan traditional home, Kelina knows how to have a healthy lifestyle with her children.

A honai does not have any windows in order to keep the room warm. Most honai have only one room. It is a round building made from wood and straw for the roof and the floor. The diameter of the smallest honai is about three meters.

Papuans usually use the center of the honai to cook. The family members will use the other side for their needs such as sleeping and other activities. The other parts of the honai are usually used for their pets.

Pigs are a common pet for Papua people. Since they are expensive, Papuans like to keep their pigs inside their honai to keep them safe from thieves.

In these conditions, Kelina has learned how to keep her children healthy. Whenever she cooks meals, she always asks her children to play outside the house because the smoke of the fireplace could make it difficult to breath. Kelina knows that her children’s health is one of the most valuable things now.

Kelina now knows her responsibility as a mother. She likes to wake her children, ask them to take a bath, and prepare their needs to go to the school.

woman weeding with young boyAfter finishing the morning tasks, Kelina goes to her family’s farmland right in front and beside her house. She starts to clean up the weeds and always brings the youngest child, Christian, almost 2 year old, with her.

Kelina’s children have also become obedient children and have a positive lifestyle.

Everyone could feel the impact of the changes in Kelina’s life.

“I know sometimes my neighbors don’t have a good crop to sell. If they don’t have something to eat, I gave them papaya, some ginger, chili or other crops from my farmland for them to sell. It really could help them to survive.”

Kelina knows that these changes are because of Jesus. The character of Jesus helps her change her old habits.

Now God blesses what flows from Kelina’s hand and heart.

Visit The Difference is Jesus dot com.

15 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Kamee Rolland July 12, 2011

    I was wondering if it is possible to begin a Compassion project in the independent country of Papua New Guinea? Future plans could land me there for a few years and I would love to volunteer in any way that I can. Are you allowed in this country? Thank you 🙂

    1. Jacquie Parella July 13, 2011

      Hi Kamee! Your heart to volunteer with us means a lot so I am sorry to tell you that we are not working in Papua New Guinea and have no plans to at this time. This FAQ will help to explain why.

      I hope that you get to go to Papua New Guinea and that the Lord opens up some amazing opportunities for you there! Jacquie

  2. Lenike November 3, 2009

    I love this testimony! This is one of many stories that tell us about miraculous things that GOD has done in HIS land trough HIS churches and Compassion in East Indonesia!

    Kelina lives in West Papua, which is in eastern Indonesia.

    Greater testimonies have yet to come from East Indonesia 

  3. Sarah October 29, 2009

    What an amazing transformation! God can do such wonderful things in our hearts and lives. I didn’t know there was a CSP in New Guinea…that’s great!

  4. Sam October 29, 2009

    I am so blessed to read these wonderful encouraging stories of restoration. I am a sri lankan and would like to know how to contact your office in Sri Lanka.

  5. Vicki Small October 28, 2009

    Chris, I was also confused about the location, so thanks for clarifying.

    This is a good story. The truth is, Jesus is the difference in every one of our lives, and He is to be praised for turning this mother and her family around!

  6. Chris Giovagnoni October 28, 2009


    I deleted your comments because I deemed them irrelevant to the subject of the story.

    This post is not about the denial of human rights to any group of people.

    Despite that, I would have let the comments stay if I felt the tone was conversational and driven by a desire to educate and discuss the subject as opposed to being agenda driven.

  7. Chris Giovagnoni October 28, 2009


    Sri Lanka is the only country we work in that does not have the child sponsorship program, that only has the child survival program.

  8. Sara Benson October 28, 2009

    Thanks you so much for this story! Just yesterday I sponsored a CSP in Haiti. It neat to hear actual stories of how the projects are changing lives of the parents and their children.
    Other than Sri Lanka, does Compassion work in any countries just in the CSP?

    -and thanks for the clarification, I was thinking Papua New Guinea too 🙂

  9. Amy Wallace October 27, 2009

    It’s so wonderful to read about Kelina’s transformation!

  10. Andrew October 27, 2009

    I believe my comment was in accord with the ground rules. Why was the Asian Human Rights Commission request also removed ?

  11. Chris Giovagnoni October 27, 2009

    Lindy and Cheryl,

    We’re not working in Papau New Guinea. This story is from Indonesia.

    The western half of the island of New Guinea contains the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua (where Kelina lives), while the eastern half forms the mainland of the independent country of Papua New Guinea.

  12. Cheryl J October 27, 2009

    Wonderful story! I didn’t know Compassion was working in Papua New Guinea. How long as this CSP been around?

  13. Lindy October 27, 2009

    What a beautiful story! I didn’t realize there was a Child Survival Program in Papua New Guinea! Actually, I had no idea that Compassion was involved there at all. Will there some day be Child Sponsorship Projects there?

  14. Dana Williams October 27, 2009

    What a beautiful story of the redemption of Kelina and the blessing that knowing the Lord has been to her and her family. God is so good!

Add a Comment

Read the ground rules for comments.