This story comes to us from MAF missionaries Mike and Christy Brown who serve as a pilot-mechanic family in Papua, Indonesia.
Our family had the privilege of spending a long weekend in the “Bird’s Head” area of Papua. We arrived at the Anggi airstrip on Saturday afternoon. Dan Lunow, long-time missionary, was visiting there for the last time. His son and daughter-in-law were also there. We spent two nights in Anggi and then flew to Manowkari. (We served in Manowkari from 1998-2002 with MAF.) It was an amazing experience that I hope our kids will not soon forget.
When we lived in Manokwari, Anggi was a place we visited several times as a family. It is a village that sits at 6,100 feet in the mountains with two beautiful lakes, so we enjoyed going there for the cooler weather. But more than that, we so enjoyed spending the time with the missionary couple who faithfully served there, Dan and Barbara Lunow. To return to Anggi was very memorable for Mike and me.
Dan and Barbara Lunow served and lived with the Sougb people for 33 years. Unbelievable! The Sougb people had no written language when they first arrived, so they started at ground zero. Not only did they have to learn the language, but they also had to get it in written form. While Dan worked on the language and Bible translation, Barb, who is a nurse, spent countless hours helping the people with their medical needs. Since they moved back to the States 14 years ago, Dan has made trips back to Anggi every year to love and encourage the Sougb people.
A very important part of Dan and Barb’s ministry was training the people to teach the Bible. From the very beginning, Dan had a vision to send 12 people from the Sougb village to minister to the surrounding areas. Since Dan was spending so much time on the Sougb Bible translation, he knew he wouldn’t have the time to also go to different villages to teach. As he translated, he would work on lessons, teach a handful of people, and then they would go to the surrounding areas to teach God’s Word. So from the very beginning, the Sougb people were evangelizing. They now have the whole Bible in the Sougb language.
It was difficult for Megan and Joshua to go on this trip. They would be missing school, which meant much make-up work, and also sacrificing a weekend with their friends. But as we sat one night and listened to Dan’s testimony of how he was born in Germany and joined Hitler Youth at 8 years old, we could see their interest piquing. Listening to Dan tell his life story of how God brought him out of a total atheist background and an abusive home into the eternal light of Jesus was an experience we will never forget. By the end of the evening, Joshua said, “I love Uncle Dan — his laugh is awesome!”
While we were in Anggi, we reconnected with the Sougbs’ first missionary, Urius. Years ago, Mike had flown him from Anggi to Babo for his very first missionary trip. Urius is still faithfully serving the Lord and spreading the Good News.
This weekend was Dan’s last time to be with the Sougb people (unless God ordains otherwise). Dan is 83 years old. His love for the people is extremely evident as we watched them all hug, cry, and laugh for the last time together until Heaven. They showered him with gifts and many thanks and praise for bringing them the Truth for so many years. For a total of 47 years, Dan and Barb have invested in these people, raised five kids with these people, spoken truth to these people, and because of that, we will see thousands of Sougb people in Heaven. The Sougb still have their issues like black magic continuing to creep its way into their beliefs, HIV/AIDS, and raising a new generation. Jonathan and Sherri Lunow, Dan’s son and daughter-in- law, will continue ministering to the Sougb, but mostly just encouraging and reaching other parts of Papua. The Sougb people have “taken the mantle” and are moving forward in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. What an amazing story.
After that unforgettable weekend we flew Dan out of Anggi for the last time. We spent the next day in Manokwari. Mike flew for two days there servicing the airstrips in the Bird’s Head area. We took our MAF employee, Jojo, and his family out to dinner, along with a former MAF employee. It was so good to see them all and catch up with them and their families.
What a blessing to be able to have this experience as a family, to reconnect with Dan, and to get to know his son Jonathan and Sherri. It would have been so nice if Barb could have been able to make this last trip, but she is dealing with some health issues that made that impossible. The Sougb people know and love Christ! Dan Lunow said, “I can leave in peace.” He fought the good fight and ran his race well! Well done, good and faithful servant!