„The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to
teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. They should gently teach those who
oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the
truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devil’s trap. For they have been
held captive by him to do whatever he wants.“ Taken from the BIBLE, 2Timonthy 2:24-26
This pineapple story took place in Dutch New Guinea. It covered a period of seven years. This is
a first-hand account, from a missionary there. You will discover that it is a classic example of
the kinds of struggles which each of us faces until we learn and apply the concept of yielding
“ My wife and I work with these people way back in the bush. One day I decided that I was
going to bring in some pineapples. The people had heard of pineapples. They had tasted them,
but they didn’t have any source to get them.
So I got them from another mission station. I got about one hundred plants. Then I got one of
the local men to work for me. He planted all these pineapple shoots for me. I paid him, of
course. I paid him salt or whatever he wanted for the days he worked. It seemed to take
awfully long for those little shoots of pineapple to become big bushes and finally yield
pineapples. It took about three years. Back in the jungle you long for fresh fruit. You don’t get
much fresh fruit or vegetables.
So finally that third year we could see fresh pineapples coming on, and we were just waiting for
the end of the year because that is when they are ripe. When the time finally came, my wife
and I would go for walks to see if any were ripe enough to eat.
Finally, when they got ripe, we didn’t get a single one of them! The natives stole every one!
They stole them before they were ripe. That is their art. Steal it before it is ripe or the owner
Here I am, a missionary, getting mad at these people. Missionaries aren’t supposed to get mad.
You all know that. But I got angry. I said, „Look, you guys! I have been waiting for these
pineapples for three years. I didn’t get any of them. Now there are others getting ripe. If any
more of these pineapples are stolen, no more clinic for you.“
My wife was running a clinic. She was giving them all their pills free. They didn’t have anything
to pay. We were knocking ourselves out trying to help these people, taking care of their sick,
saving the lives of their babies. One by one the pineapples got ripe, and one by one they were
stolen. So I felt I had to stand my ground with these people. I couldn’t just let them run all over
me. But that was not really the reason. It was a selfish reason. I wanted to eat those
pineapples. So no more clinic. Then they let their sick babies die. They couldn’t care less. Life
was cheap over there. People with bad pneumonia would be coughing and begging us for
medicine. We would say, „No! Remember you stole our pineapples.“ „I didn’t steal them,“ they
would say. „It was the other guys that did it.“ They would go on coughing and begging. We
couldn’t take it any longer. I broke down and said, „Okay, tomorrow morning we will open the
clinic again.“ When we opened the clinic they started stealing the pineapples, and I felt bad
again. Man ! These rascals!
But finally we found out who was doing it – the guy who had planted them. I called him on the
carpet and said, „Look, buddy! What are you doing stealing my pineapples? You are my
He said, „My hands plant them. My mouth eats them.“ That is the rule of the jungle. If they
plant something, that is theirs. They had never heard of the idea of paying for services. So he
said, „They are all mine.“ I said, „Oh no! They are mine. I paid you to plant them.“ But he just
couldn’t understand how that made them my plants. I thought, „Well, what do I do now? It was
the rule of their tribe. I’d better learn to live by their rule.“
So I said, „Alright, I will give you half of these plants. Everything from here to over there is
yours. If they get ripe, they are yours. And these are mine.“ He sounded like he was in
agreement. But my pineapples still got stolen.
Then I thought, „Maybe I should let them have all those pineapples, and I’ll get some new
ones.“ But I knew that I would have to wait three more years. That was hard for me to do.
Finally I said, „Look, I will give you all these pineapples, and then I will start all over again. Now
you make a garden so I will have room to plant new ones. I don’t want your pineapples in my
garden if you feel they are yours.“ So they said, „Too-wan, (which means outsider, foreigner)
you will have to pay us.“ I said, „Now look!“ They said, „No, no! You are asking us to move your
pineapple bushes, and that is work.“ Now they are mine, I said, „Alright, I’ll pay you one day’s
work. Take them all away.“ Then they said, „We don’t have a garden ready. Will you pay us to
get it ready?“ I said, „Forget it!“ I was so fed up with them.
I told my wife, „This is impossible! I am just going to pay some guy to root them all out and
throw them on the trash heap. Then if they want them they can just take them.“ So we did. We
rooted them all out and threw them on a heap. That was hard to do. They were nice pineapple
bushes. Then I bought new plants.
I said, „Now look, all you guys. I am going to pay you to plant them, but I eat them, my family
and me. You don’t eat any.“ They said, „You can’t do that. If we plant them, we eat them.“ I
said, „Look, I don’t have time to mess with a garden. I have too much to do. There are so many
of you, and there is only one me. You have got to help me. I want you to plant them, and I will
I said, „I will pay you. What do you want? I will give you this nice knife if you will agree to do
it.“ They started to think. „He will pay us that knife so he can eat our pineapples.“ Finally they
agreed. During the next three years I reminded the guy who planted them, „Look! Who is going
to eat these pineapples?“ He said, „You are.“ I said, „Fine! Have you still got the knife?“ He
said, „Yes.“ I said, „Well, take good care of it.“ If he lost the knife I am in trouble again. The
pay is gone.
Finally, after three more years the pineapples began to ripen. My wife and I walked through the
garden again. I said, „Man! Pretty soon we are going to have a crop of our own pineapples.“ We
started to thank God that He was providing them for us. But do you know what happened?
Every one of them was stolen! I would see the natives go through the garden in the daytime to
spot where the pineapples were, and then at night they would be able to go right to them.
I thought, „What am I going to do? We can’t cut out the clinic. Let’s cut out the trade store.“
That’s where they get their matches, salt, fishhooks, and things like that. They use to do
without them. That won’t kill them. I said, „Okay, no more store. You stole my pineapples.“
When we closed the store they began to say, „We had better leave because we don’t have any
salt. If he is not going to have a store, there is no advantage for us being here with him. We
might as well go back to our jungle houses.“ So they took off to live in the jungle.
There I was sitting by myself eating pineapples. No people, no ministry. I said to my wife,
„Look, we can eat pineapple back in the States, I mean, if that is all we are here to do.“ A
runner returned and I said, „Get them all back. We will open the store next Monday.“ I thought
and thought. How am I going to get to eat those pineapples? There must be a way…
… I thought, „Man! I don’t have anything to lose. I will give that pineapple garden to God
because I am not eating pineapples anyway.“ Now I know that is not a very good sacrifice. You
are supposed to sacrifice something that is valuable to you. But I would give it to God and see if
He could control it. I said, „Man! I am going to see how He is going to do it.“
So I stood in the garden one night. The people had gone home. I didn’t want them to see me
out there praying. I prayed, „Lord, see these pineapple bushes? I have fought to have fruit from
them. I have claimed them. I stood up for my rights. It is all wrong, and I realize it now. I have
seen that it is wrong and I give them to You. From now on, if You want me to eat any of Your
pineapples, fine. You just go right ahead and give them to us. If not, fine. It doesn’t really matter.“
So I gave them to God, and the natives stole the pineapples as usual. I thought to myself,
„See, God, You can’t control them either.“
Then one day they came to me and said, „Too-wan, you have become a Christian, haven’t
you?“ I was ready to react and say, „Look here, I have been a Christian for twenty years.“ But
instead I said, „Why do you say that?“ They said, „Because you don’t get angry anymore when
we steal your pineapples.“ This was a real revelation. Now I was living what I had been
preaching to them. I had been telling them to love one another, be kind to one another, and I
had always been standing up for my rights, and they knew it.
Finally, one bright lad started thinking and said, „Now, why don’t you get angry anymore?“ I
said, „I have given that garden away. It isn’t my garden anymore. So you are not stealing my
pineapples. I don’t have to get angry anymore.“ Another guy started to think even more and he
said, „Who did you give that garden to?“ They looked around. „Did he give it to you?“ „Did he
give it to you?“ „Whose is it anyway?“ „Whose pineapples are we stealing?“
Then I said, „I have given the garden to God.“ They said, „To God?! Hasn’t He got any
pineapples where He is?“ I said, „I don’t know whether He has or not, but I have given it to
God.“ They went to the village and said, „Do you know whose pineapples we are stealing? Toowan has given them to God.“ They all started thinking about that one. They came back in a
group and said, „Too-wan, you should not have done it. Why don’t you get them back from
God? No wonder we aren’t getting the pigs when we go out hunting. No wonder our babies are
getting sick. No wonder our wives are not giving birth. No wonder the fish aren’t biting.“ Then
they said, „We shouldn’t steal them anymore if they are God’s, should we?“
They were afraid of God. So then the pineapples began to ripen. The natives came and said,
„Too-wan, your pineapples are ripe.“ I said, „They are not mine. They belong to God.“ They
said, „But they are going to get rotten. You had better pick them.“ And so, I got some and I let
the natives take some. When my family sat down to eat them, I said, „Lord, we are eating Your
pineapples. Thank You for giving them to us.“ All those years those natives were watching me
and listening to my words. They saw that the two didn’t match. But when I began to change,
they did too. Soon many natives decided to become Christians… „
It’s very important to practice what you preach…