A Mirror and a Shirt

The Gospel flourishes among the Wano people

“God’s Word showed me I couldn’t live good enough. I had a huge sin debt. The one way is through Jesus alone,” said Liku, a man from the Wano tribe of Indonesia.

Liku shared this revelation with a Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot on the day an MAF KODIAK first landed in the village of Mokndoma, Papua, last July.

The Wano tribe celebrates the arrival of the MAF KODIAK at their newly completed airstrip, July 2014. Photo by David Holsten.

The Wano tribe celebrates the arrival of the MAF KODIAK at their newly completed airstrip, July 2014. Photo by David Holsten.

When two New Tribes Mission (NTM) families, the Wilds and the Ingles, arrived in the village nine years ago, they began the arduous task of learning the language so Liku and others could hear “Yahweh’s story.” Liku says it was as if they had brought a mirror with them—God’s Word.

“I could see how ‘dirty’ I am,” Liku said. But, then, Liku put a t-shirt on to illustrate, “I believed and God placed me into Christ, like me putting on this shirt. When God sees me he doesn’t see my sin anymore.”

Before the missionaries brought the Good News of Jesus, Liku and some 1,500 Wano people were animists, believing in the power of evil spirits. They lived in fear. Every sickness, they believed, was the work of an evil spirit. They went to great lengths to try and protect their families, even as far as cutting off fingers to appease the spirits.

Today things are different. For three months in 2010, the missionaries shared a daily series of Bible stories in the tribe’s own language. After this, the first believers emerged and a church was born.

Two of the earliest believers, Liku and Dugwiru, now help with Bible translation and spend time in neighboring Wano villages telling others about “the mirror and the shirt”—the Gospel message.

The desire to share their newfound faith in Christ motivated the Wano people to build the airstrip. Some 80 Wano people worked by hand, using shovels, picks, and wheelbarrows, for two years to dig an airstrip into the top of their mountain.

MAF’s service will aid the NTM missionaries as well, as they continue to translate the Bible into the tribe’s language and disciple new believers.

“Having the KODIAK land at our village means that we can fly directly in and out,” said missionary Mike Wild. “But most importantly, the opening of the airstrip will assist us in reaching other Wano communities.”

Liku teaches as Mike Wild looks on. Photo by Kelly Hewes.

Liku teaches as Mike Wild looks on. Photo by Kelly Hewes.

“Our people made this airstrip for a reason,” said Liku. “One day our missionaries will go home, but our land will still be here. It is our responsibility to stay here and pass on the truth of this ‘mirror and shirt.’ We will live by this truth.”

 

Story originally appeared in FlightWatch 2015, Vol 1.

 

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