It might be helpful to first communicate the need and history of Papua. First, it is illegal to evangelize in Indonesia. They are a pluralistic society and desire for harmony among religions. Indonesia also has the world’s largest Muslim population.
Papua is the eastern most province of Indonesia. It consists of a diverse mix of native papuans and Indonesians who have been moved to the island of Papua. Many of the native Papuans are Christians who have come to Christ via missions efforts of recent generations of missionaries. For example, our field supervisors, the Kennedys, currently hold bible studies in the interior of the island where more than 1,300 attend.
The encouraging thing is that the National church of these Papuans are now sending missionaries further into the interior of the island.
However, there are several cultural hurdles that inhibit the native/tribal papuans from effectively reaching the Indonesians that live in coastal cities like Manokwari. Indonesians are largely Muslim, well educated and more affluent. Papuans are less educated, generally have poorer work ethic, and their lifestyle of having dogs and pigs roaming their properties prevents much conversation between the two.
The Kennedys have just completed construction of the Well of Joy Community Center that is a testimony to God in and of itself. It is a beautiful facility located in Manokwari near both an elementary and middle school and backs up to the local University. Thus offers a platform to meet the needs of the Indonesians. The sky is the limit, but initial thoughts include English tutoring, sports activities, academic tutoring of any kind, including college students. The idea of even a week long Lego course for kids is on the table for consideration.
Our vision is to use the community center as a platform to form legitimate and meaningful relationships with the Indonesians and plant churches that are Indonesian background.
In addition to working through the community center we would partner with strategic community leaders already working towards reaching the Indonesians. One example of such a leader is Bapak Tandi Randa. We met Tandi by God’s providence Monday morning while waiting in the hotel lobby for the Kennedys to pick us up. Walter recognized Tandi at the hotel desk when he picked us up, as Walter and Tandi work together in ministry frequently. Walter decided that it might be good for us to meet with Tandi. It became immediately clear that Tandi was sent by God that morning for us to see God’s hand and initiate a relationship with a possible future partner. Tandi is Indonesian, left medical school to become a pastor, has been seminary trained in the US, has a heart specifically for reaching the Indonesians, and when asked what he thought of the possibility that we could partner with him he replied ‘praise the Lord’.