Faole Adobo (right) with son Kaola (left)

Photo courtesy of Milton Hook. From the collection of Harold B. P. Wicks held by Jennifer (Wicks) Steley, Sydney, NSW.

Faole Adobo (c. 1890–1957)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: January 29, 2020

Faole Adobo, a native of Papua New Guinea, helped the Adventist missionaries in Papua New Guinea and evangelized his people.

Prior to Baptism

Faole Adobo,1 alias Faole Kaola,2 was born around 1890 into a family of the Koiari clan at Bageanumu Village near Efogi, high in the Owen Stanley Range, Papua New Guinea. During a turbulent youth he received a spear wound to his abdomen, carrying the scar for the rest of his life,3 and served a gaol sentence in Port Moresby for reportedly murdering seven people. Soon after Faole’s release from prison, about 1911, he learned that a pioneering Seventh-day Adventist missionary, Septimus Carr, who was establishing a mission station and rubber plantation at Bisiatabu to the north-east of Port Moresby. This was not far from the start of the jungle track, later to gain notoriety as the southern part of the Kokoda track, which led through Efogi, to Faole’s home village. Faole applied for work and for approximately twelve months was employed to plant rubber trees at Bisiatabu. This marked his introduction to Seventh-day Adventists, Bible stories, and Sabbath observance.4

After a year at Bisiatabu Faole returned to his home village of Bageanumu near Efogi, and around 1919 he married Semili, a member of his clan. Their firstborn was a boy they named Kaola. Later, four girls were born into their family, Abi, Tobo, Beghoi, and Aliti. Aliti was named after the widow of the Fijian missionary, Bennie Tavodi, with whom Faole had worked on the Bisiatabu rubber plantation before Bennie’s untimely death from a snake bite in 1918.5

Prior to his death, Bennie made a mission trip in late 1913, taking his picture roll with him and telling simple Bible stories in the little isolated villages scattered along the mountainous track to Efogi, and no doubt renewing contact with former colleague Faole. Faole had evidently told his people about the Sabbath, but as Bennie observed, they often became confused when trying to count the days of the week.6 Late in 1924 William and Mollie Lock made the grueling trek to Efogi, specifically to establish a permanent mission station7to provide schooling and medical assistance,8 which had been requested by the local chief during an earlier visit. Soon they began a school for the youngsters.9 When Lock transferred to Bisiatabu in mid-1927 and was replaced at Efogi by Charles and Evelyn Mitchell,10 Faole walked to Bisiatabu to escort the Mitchells on the six-day hike back to Efogi.11

Faole enrolled his two eldest children, Kaola and Abi, into the Efogi school. He also asked if he could settle on the mission compound. With some trepidation Mitchell agreed. Faole quickly built himself a neat cottage and then announced he was going to attend school with the children. Mitchell was taken by surprise but allowed him to do so. Faole was small in stature and had an infectious smile and boundless energy. He quickly blended into the school, learning the 3Rs and the gospel.12 When Lock made a return visit in late 1927 he baptized Faole, the one and only candidate that day and the first of his clan to take the step.13

Active Service

Mitchell learned to appreciate Faole’s assistance at Efogi. When he transferred to the southern coast at Vilirupu he called for Faole to come and be his right-hand man when his regular assistant took furlough. Semili had just given birth to their youngest daughter, Aliti, when Faole brought his family from the brisk mountain air of Efogi to the steamy climate of the coast at Vilirupu. After a few months there, during 1929, they returned to Efogi.14

In 1931 Faole volunteered to return to Vilirupu to assist Mitchell.15 They began following tracks that led inland into the foothills of the Owen Stanley Range, finding small villages of people belonging to clans similar to Faole’s. At Bukuku they established an out station and Faole moved there to conduct a school patterned on the Efogi model.16 Using Bukuku as his base Faole made forays into other villages, taking his young daughter, Beghoi, to hold up the picture roll while he related the Bible stories. The people of Obaha, Maibiko, and Ganalokua accepted the Adventist message brought by Faole.17

While Faole was at Ganalokua, a chief in a nearby village died suddenly, and according to local custom, the witch doctor was consulted to lay blame. It was alleged that Faole had upset the local spirits, who was therefore marked for death. Friends of Faole rushed to tell Mitchell, who set out to protect him. In the meantime the murderous party surrounded Faole’s hut but were met with the sight of a ring of white men around the hut. They fled in terror. When Mitchell arrived he was surprised to find Faole still alive, so he walked on to the offending village where the villagers told him of their failed attempt to kill Faole. Both Mitchell and Faole concluded it was a platoon of angels that put the intending murderers to flight.18

By 1939 Faole was back in Efogi and in charge of the station.19 He reached out to other villages along the track, one being Menari, at a lower altitude on the way toward Bisiatabu.20 Another was Enivilogo, where he established a small church. On August 16, 1941, Semili passed away and Faole took a short break at Bisiatabu before returning to the Efogi district.21

War came to the track in 1942. One day while Faole was at Enivilogo village a Japanese fighter plane swooped in and strafed the church. All the villagers, including Faole, retreated to areas away from the main track. During this time a group of five lost and wounded Australian soldiers stumbled upon the villagers’ temporary camp. Faoli’s daughter, Beghoi, had learned some simple remedies and tended the wounded for about two weeks but sadly, one soldier passed away. The funeral service, conducted by Faole, made a deep impression on the remaining soldiers. Faole and a young lad named Geita then led the survivors to safety, using rarely used tracks and often blazing a new trail through dense jungle. They emerged at Brown River, south of Menari Church, to join up with the allies, and continued down the mountain track to Bisiatabu.22

Faole and his two youngest daughters waited out the war at a place called Moui Mission near Bisiatabu, building their own hut and planting a garden to support themselves.23 As soon as it was safe, in 1944, they returned to Efogi.24 Faole continued to evangelize the surrounding villages, traveling across the Papuan border into Oro Province as far as the village of Seragina.25 It was about this time of his life, beginning around 1949, when he was officially retired and in receipt of the church pension26 that Faole became known as “Tau Buruka,” meaning “Old Man.” In his later years his eyesight deteriorated, but he continued to minister to his people, finally settling at Bisiatabu where, on May 16, 1957, he died and was buried.27

Sources

Beghoi Faole. “A Letter from Papua.” Australasian Record, vol. 47, no. 11, March 15, 1943.

Boehm, E[ric] A. “A Talk with Geda (sic).” The Missionary Leader, vol. 33, no. 9, September 1945.

“Faole is dead! Though we never met…” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, vol. 61, no. 24, June 10, 1957.

Gray, K[enneth] J. “Mountain Trails.” Australasian Record, vol. 43, no. 31, July 31, 1939.

Hare, Reuben. Fuzzy-Wuzzy Tales Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1950.

Lock, Lester [N]. Locks That Opened Doors. Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, n.d.

Lock, W[illiam] N. “Mail Day at Efogi, New Guinea.” Australasian Record, vol. 29, no. 10, March 9, 1925.

Lock, W[illiam] N. “Faole.” The Missionary Leader, vol. 15, no. 5, May 1927.

Lock, W[illiam] N. “A Visit to Vilirupu, Papua.” Australasian Record, vol. 33, no. 15, April 15, 1929.

Lock, W[illiam] N. “Old Paths and Memories.” Australasian Record, vol. 43, no. 32, August 7, 1939.

Lock, W[illiam] N. “What I Saw After Forty-three Years.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, vol. 72, no. 6, February 5, 1968.

Mitchell, C[harles] E. “New Mission at Bukuku, Papua.” Australasian Record, vol. 36, no. 37, September 12, 1932.

Mitchell, C[harles] E. “A Visit to Efogi District.” Australasian Record, vol. 48, no. 48, November 27, 1944.

Mitchell, C[harles] E. “From Head-Hunter to Soul-Winner.” The Missionary Leader, vol. 37, no. 11, November 1949.

Mitchell, C[harles] E. “Awakening in Papua.” Australasian Record, vol. 54, no. 40, October 2, 1950.

Mitchell, Evelyn M. “Efogi.” Australasian Record, vol. 31, no. 27, July 4, 1927.

Mitchell, Evelyn M. “Efogi, New Guinea.” Australasian Record, vol. 32, no. 1, January 2, 1928.

“Progress in New Guinea.” Australasian Record, vol. 29, no. 49, December 7, 1925.

Rice, Leigh. “100 Years Celebrated on the Track.” Record, vol. 120, no. 2, February 7, 2015.

Stewart, A[ndrew] G. “Visiting Our Missions in Papua - Part 2.” Australasian Record, vol. 35, no. 36, September 7, 1931.

Tavodi, Benny, “Go Ye.” Australasian Record, vol. 17, no. 50, December 22, 1913.

White, H[erb] C. “Spending a Sabbath in the Interior of New Guinea.” Australasian Record, vol. 28, no. 7, February 18, 1924.

Notes

  1. Leigh Rice, “100 Years Celebrated on the Track,” Record, vol. 120, no. 2, February 7, 2015, 3.

  2. Titipuni Atani, “Missionary: Faole Kaola.” Research paper, Pacific Adventist University, 2014. Note: It is customary for individuals to be known by different names in different tribal areas. In this case Faole is known as Faole [father of] Kaola.

  3. Reuben Hare, Fuzzy-Wuzzy Tales (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1950), 14-15. Note: Birth dates were not recorded and years were not counted. The year 1890 is a revised estimate of Faole’s birth, considering the details of his life and its expectancy.

  4. W[illiam] N. Lock, “Faole,” The Missionary Leader, vol. 15, no. 5, May 1927, 8: Lester Lock, Locks That Opened Doors (Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, n.d. ), 32.

  5. Lester [N] Lock, Locks That Opened Doors (Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, n.d. ), 33-35.

  6. Benny Tavodi, “Go Ye,” Australasian Record, vol. 17, no. 50, December 22, 1913, 3. The Fijian missionary, Bennie Tavodi is spelled as “Bennie” in the article, but in the reference is spelled as “Benny”. Both spellings are Anglicized versions of the name, which in Fijian is spelled ‘Peni.’

  7. W[illiam] N. Lock, “Mail Day at Efogi, New Guinea,” Australasian Record, vol. 29, no. 10, March 9, 1925, 8.

  8. W[illiam] N. Lock, “Mail Day at Efogi, New Guinea,” Australasian Record, vol. 29, no. 10, March 9, 1925, 8.

  9. “Progress in New Guinea,” Australasian Record, vol. 29, no. 49, December 7, 1925, 8.

  10. Evelyn M. Mitchell, “Efogi,” Australasian Record, vol. 31, no. 27, July 4, 1927, 4.

  11. W[illiam] N. Lock, “Faole,” The Missionary Leader, vol. 15, no. 5, May 1927, 8.

  12. Lester [N] Lock, Locks That Opened Doors (Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, n.d. ), 33.

  13. Evelyn M. Mitchell, “Efogi, New Guinea,” Australasian Record, vol. 32, no. 1, January 2, 1928, 3; W[illiam] N. Lock, “What I Saw After Forty-three Years,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, vol. 72, no. 6, February 5, 1968, 4-5.

  14. W[illiam] N. Lock, “A Visit to Vilirupu, Papua,” Australasian Record, vol. 33, no. 15, April 15, 1929, 3; Lester [N] Lock, Locks That Opened Doors (Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, n.d. ), 35.

  15. A[ndrew] G. Stewart, “Visiting Our Missions in Papua - Part 2,” Australasian Record, vol. 35, no. 36, September 7, 1931, 3-4.

  16. C[harles] E. Mitchell, “New Mission at Bukuku, Papua,” Australasian Record, vol. 36, no. 37, September 12, 1932, 8.

  17. Lester [N] Lock, Locks That Opened Doors (Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, n.d. ), 35-36.

  18. Ibid.

  19. K[enneth] J. Gray, “Mountain Trails,” Australasian Record, vol. 43, no. 31, July 31, 1939, 4.

  20. W[illiam] N. Lock, “Old Paths and Memories, Australasian Record, vol. 43, no. 32, August 7, 1939, 3.

  21. Lester [N] Lock, Locks That Opened Doors (Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, n.d. ), 38-39.

  22. Ibid.; E[ric] A. Boehm, “A Talk with Geda (sic),” The Missionary Leader, vol. 33, no. 9, September 1945, 8.

  23. Beghoi Faole, “A Letter from Papua,” Australasian Record, vol. 47, no. 11, March 15, 1943, 8.

  24. C[harles] E. Mitchell, “A Visit to Efogi District,” Australasian Record, vol. 48, no. 48, November 27, 1944, 5-6.

  25. C[harles] E. Mitchell, “Awakening in Papua,” Australasian Record, vol. 54, no. 40, October 2, 1950, 5-6.

  26. C[harles] E. Mitchell, “From Head-Hunter to Soul-Winner,” The Missionary Leader, vol. 37, no. 11, November 1949, 8.

  27. “Faole is dead! Though we never met…” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, vol. 61, no. 24, June 10, 1957, 16.

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Hook, Milton. "Faole Adobo (c. 1890–1957)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed May 20, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EAZO.

Hook, Milton. "Faole Adobo (c. 1890–1957)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access May 20, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EAZO.

Hook, Milton (2020, January 29). Faole Adobo (c. 1890–1957). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 20, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EAZO.