What difference does the Gospel make? Journey with me to two villages that MAF serves in Papua, Indonesia. These villages are home to two different tribes and host two different cultures. The people speak two completely different languages and currently have two different understandings of God.
The sun stretches across the horizon on Sunday morning in the lowlands of Turumo; the air is heavy with heat and humidity. Soon, the rain rolls in providing some relief from the heat. Church will start late because of the weather. To be cleansed of your sin, you have to bathe before church starts and nobody bathes in the rain.
Finally church starts with rhythmic chanting. Nobody knows what the chants mean, but they believe they are pleasing to God so they recite them every week. Singing is followed up by prayer. Prayers work better if you pay the pastor, so offerings are given to him.
Today’s message is about curses. Those who are good Christians should not be cursing others, but those who are bad Christians should be cursed so that their gardens don’t produce food. Those who are sick have been cursed, and we need to figure out who cursed them.
After church, the village chief meets with the MAF pilot. He apologizes to him for the state of the airstrip, but blames it on the people who live upriver who won’t come help maintain it. He also believes they cursed his son, causing his sickness and death. He asks that the pilots not to fly the people who live upriver because they refuse to help on the airstrip and because they caused his son’s death. The village chief offers land for the MAF family to build a house so that they can visit more often.
The Turu people have had missionaries for five years. They have been learning language and culture, but have not yet presented the Gospel. They desire to have a full understanding of the Turu language and culture so that they can present the Gospel in a way that will make sense to them, rather than further confusing them about who God is.
The sun peeks over the mountaintops on Sunday morning in the highlands of Mokendoma; the air is cool and crisp. Soon, the rain rolls in, cooling the air even more. Church will start late because of the weather. Many people make long hikes through the jungle to hear about God.
Finally, church starts with songs in the tribal language that the people have written themselves, giving thanks and praising their Savior. Singing is followed by prayer. Genuine prayers lifted to the God who hears.
Today’s sermon is from Acts 3, the story of the lame man outside the temple who is healed by Jesus. Just as the man was lame from birth and could only be healed by the power of Jesus, so are we separated from God by our sin from birth. And only by the power of Christ’s death on the cross can we be saved.
After church, the church leaders meet with the MAF pilot. They share their testimonies of receiving the Gospel for the first time. They thank him for helping them spread the Gospel by flying them to places too far away to walk. They express their gratitude to God for giving us all a job to do for his Kingdom.
The Wano people have had missionaries for fourteen years. After several years of language and culture study, the missionaries presented the Gospel and now have a growing and thriving church. The Wano are becoming missionaries themselves, reaching out to other Wano villages throughout Papua.
30% of the New Testament translation is complete, and they hope to have another 30% completed this fall.
Bible translators in both Turumo and Mokendoma rely on MAF to carry out their work. It is our joy and privilege to play a part in bringing the Good News to these isolated villages. Join me in praying for these translation projects.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NIV
By Nathan and Becky Fagerlie serving with MAF in Papua