Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tribute to William Edoni

William Edoni passed away on February 28, 2006.

When I walked by William Edoni's empty office today, a smile came to my face as I reflected on a presentation he made to the SALT Orientation class last January.

I had asked William to talk about "God's Providence in PNG." William spoke eloquently; and he humbly gave a personal testimony of how God had moved in his life. William encouraged the SALT interns, saying that what they were doing through The SALT Project would have a lasting impact on his nation.

After William left the classroom that day, I could not help but comment to the interns, "You have heard Mr. Edoni's testimony that he is the grandson of a cannibal. What he did not tell you is that he currently serves as the Chairman of the Bible Translation Association of Papua New Guinea, the Public Relations Director of SIL-PNG, and a Board member on Wycliffe International's Board of Directors. Ladies and gentlemen, William Edoni is a living example of God's providence for the nation of Papua New Guinea!"

I miss William Edoni! He was a servant leader who spoke with great authority. He had a wonderful sense of humor and an infectious laugh. William was 64 years of age at the time of his death. He is survived by his wife Gail and their three children, Stanley, Timaima, and Dominic.

The following tribute was written by PBT Director, Jim Davis for the PBT Storyboard:

The Heart of a Giant’s Final Beat…

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a good friend and a great man. William Edoni was warm, humble, and personable, a man who loved a good joke, who smiled often, and loved the Lord with all of his heart. He was devoted to the Word of God, loving it and cherishing it as a treasure. William demonstrated leadership qualities rarely found in the average man. He worked tirelessly to develop the qualities of leadership, of love, and of Christ in countless Papua New Guinean men and women.

William was also committed to the task of seeing God’s Word in the hands and hearts of all the people groups in Papua New Guinea. One of his deep desires that drove him onward was to train the people of Papua New Guinea in the ways of truth and Scripture, and train them also to be able to do the work of Bible translation, of teaching literacy, of developing their communities. He recognized that missionaries could not and would not be able to do it on their own.

His death was sudden and shocking to us all. On Sunday afternoon, February 26, he collapsed in his home from a massive stroke, never regained consciousness, and died Tuesday evening, February 28.

William was born on Fergusson Island in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea. His cousin said at his funeral that he and William were “law breakers” in that where their traditional customs and ways diverged from Scripture, they would break the laws of tradition, and follow the truths of the gospel.

William was indeed a man of his people, and man of integrity, and, even more than that, a man of God. He loved his people with all of his heart. He loved them enough to confront culture when it went against Scripture. He loved them enough to preach with boldness the good news of Jesus Christ. One missionary said at his funeral, “When I came to PNG 21 years ago, William came and spoke to us at the Pacific Orientation Course. When he finished speaking, I thought God had made a mistake in sending me here, because if PNG had men like William, there was definitely no need for me! But I soon realized that men like William were few and far between, and I wanted to emulate his work and life in my own.”

William wanted with all of his heart for the people of PNG to be involved in the work of Bible translation, in the work of developing literacy programs within the country, and for them to be doing this because the need for Christ to infuse the cultures of PNG was so great. William, although standing barely 5’6” tall, was a giant of a man in PNG. He will be deeply missed by many individuals and, indeed, the country as a whole.

William has served with the Summer Institute of Linguistics since 1983, served as board chairman of the Bible Translation Association of Papua New Guinea, and also served on the board of directors of Wycliffe International. He also was instrumental in setting up the partnership that now exists between SIL, PBT, BTA, and the Bible Society of PNG.