Friday, November 30, 2007

A tribute to Rudy Kahata

In life, Rudy Rudolf Kahata touched the lives of many hundreds of people as a pastor and radio evangelist.

His death on Wednesday, February 8,2006, perhaps, touched even more people and inspired many more young people from the Ahi villages of Lae to follow in his footsteps.

This was evident by the hundreds of people who attended his funeral service at the St Andrew’s Lutheran Church at Ampo in Lae on Saturday, February 11, 2006, and then burial at his nearby Hengali village.

Tears fell freely for most, a moment they shall never forget, as they joined together as one to sing their former pastor’s favorite hymns.

It was – suffice to say – a funeral befitting that of royalty.

Pastor Rudy’s vibrant and powerful preaching brought new life to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG in his short life of 35 years.

He was respected by the church hierarchy, the Martin Luther Seminary where he was groomed, and most of all – the church followers – as someone with great potential as a preacher and leader.

Even the ELCPNG’s charismatic leader Dr Wesley Kigasung, who helped to groom up Pastor Rudy at seminary, often remarked that he could see a successor in this dynamic young man.

From 2002 up to 2005, while serving at the St Andrew’s Lutheran Church at Ampo in Lae, Pastor Rudy brought new life and animation into services.

The results were phenomenal, with more young people living on the fringes suddenly attending church services.

Pastor Rudy fearlessly ministered the Word of God – through walking and even by bicycle – to the Ahi villages of Butibam, Hengali, Kamkumung, Wagang, Yanga and the many surrounding settlements.

Young people living in these urban villages and settlements, often notorious for crime, found someone they could turn to in Pastor Rudy.

But while Pastor Rudy found a following amongst the young people, that was not the case with the entrenched and conservative church hierarchy at St Andrew’s, who opposed him on many things, culminating in his leaving.

At the rededication of the new look St Andrew’s church last November, his contributions
as former pastor were not even acknowledged.

But Pastor Rudy, being what he is, quietly took it all in his stride.

Last July, he took up his new ministry with In-Touch Media in Lae as radio evangelist for local radio station, FM Morobe.

Over the last few months, until his untimely death, Pastor Rudy developed a huge following wherever in Morobe Province the radio station reached.

His Sunday ministry crossed the boundaries of all denominations as he invited them on air to preach the Word of God in the city of Lae and the province of Morobe.

In the words of Lady Nohoranie Bogan, general manager of In-Touch Media, “we were grooming him up to become the most-powerful radio evangelist in Papua New Guinea”.

Pastor Rudy’s leadership so impressed the management of In-Touch Media that just two weeks before his death, he was promoted to become manager of its other arm, Powerhouse Records.

Pastor Rudy, who was married to wife Joyce and had four young children – Albert, Alex, Shane and Salome - was eagerly looking forward to asserting himself in his new job as manager of Powerhouse Records.

All these hopes and dreams, however, were not to be when he suffered a suspected heart attack while dropping off staff in Lae on the night of Wednesday, February 9.

Rudy Rudolph Kahata was born on May 3, 1970, at Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae to mother Salome of Butibam village and father Jason of neighbouring Hengali.

He was baptised at St Andrew’s Lutheran Church on May 14, 1970.

He attended Minj Primary School in the Western Highlands from 1978 to 1979, and then Amba Demonstration School in Lae from 1980 to 1983.

This was followed by four years at Busu Provincial High School in Lae from 1984 to 1987.

It was in 1984 that he received his Confirmation blessing at St Andrew’s Lutheran Church.

From 1994 to 1995, he worked at Lae Technical College as an accounts officer, however, he had a calling from God and took up studies at the Martin Luther Seminary from 1996 to 2001 and graduated with a Diploma in Theology.

Pastor Rudy touched the lives of so many people in so many years.

I remember that time in November 2000 when my wife gave birth to our first son at the Goroka Base Hospital.

The then Vicar Rudy was working at the St John’s Lutheran Church in Goroka.

He visited us at the hospital, held the head of the baby, and prayed.

Vicar Rudy would have baptised my son had he not had to prematurely leave Goroka before the end of his tenure at St John’s.

To make up for this, I later asked the now Pastor Rudy in Lae if he would baptise my second son and daughter, and he was more than willing to oblige.

Sadly, that will not be now.

I last met Pastor Rudy at the rededication of the St Andrew’s Lutheran Church at Ampo last October where we discussed a few things regarding the church and his career, and then a week later at the 2005 Morobe Show.

His life, while short, was a blessing to all those who came to know him and will be an inspiration to many young people to take up the ministry in these challenging times.

Last Sunday, FM Morobe hosted a special tribute to Pastor Rudy on air, in which his co-worker Loujaya Toni mentioned the appropriateness of the poem Footprints during this sad time.

This poem is dedicated to the family, friends and many people whose lives have been touched by the late Rudy Kahata, as we mourn his death.

Footprints (by Margaret Fishback Powers)

One night I dreamed a dream.
I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets
of footprints in the sand
one belonging to me
and one to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life shot before me
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
There was only one set of footprints.
I realised this was at the lowest
and saddest times of my life.
This always bothered me
and I questioned the Lord
about my dilemma.
“Lord, you told me when I decided to follow You,
You would walk and talk with me all the way.
But I’m aware that during the most troublesome
times of my life there is only one set of footprints.
I just don’t understand why, when I needed You Most,
You leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child,
I love you and will never leave you
never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints
it was then that I carried you.”

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