Story by Jeremiah Hartin, an MAF pilot in Papua, Indonesia.
Normally, you’ll find Jeremiah in his element–at the controls of a KODIAK airplane. But even when he’s not flying, God brings opportunities to minister.
What do you do when alone, miles outside of town in the jungle, and an angry looking fellow appears with a machete moving towards you? I (Jeremiah) found myself in such a situation recently.
Since moving to Nabire a little over a year ago, one of my habits has been to take a weekly ride on my motorcycle. Most of these rides are out into the country where I enjoy exploring the scenes and seeing the faces of the people living outside of Nabire. I value the time to get away and reflect and pray. A few weeks ago I decided to ride along a river outside of town. It is really more of a large creek than a river, although it swells after a tropical storm rolls through. After riding several miles upstream, I came to a place where the canyon walls closed in and the river course narrowed and deepened. I stopped on a gravel bar and sat for a while and listened to the sound of the water flowing past. It was a deeply satisfying moment of peace in the Lord’s presence. After a few minutes a Papuan man appeared from the jungle. He was wearing no shirt and was carrying a machete. His face was hard and his brow was furrowed. I admit that I felt somewhat uneasy as this gruff-looking stranger approached me with a machete in his hand on the river bank miles out of town. Unsure and with some amount of fear, I stood up and greeted him in Indonesian. I had no idea what he would do or whether or not he would even understand me. (Many Papuans speak and understand only their tribal languages, and have not yet learned Indonesian). Yet I felt a sense of Christ with me and the peace that comes in His presence.
After hearing my greeting, a smile appeared on the man’s face and I felt relief knowing that he understood me. He came to the gravel bar, and we sat down together. I learned that his name was Dirau and I estimated his age to be somewhere in his mid-thirties. It quickly became apparent that he just wanted to talk. A few minutes into our conversation, I asked him if he knew Jesus. He then told me a story of how several years ago, while working in a mountain town, he had a dream about Jesus and knew that he needed to become a Christian. He explained that God had changed his heart. He also expressed sadness about many of his friends who had also claimed to be Christians but had not changed in their hearts. We went on to talk at length about following Christ, trusting in Him, and surrendering to His work within us. We spoke of encouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ to leave old ways behind and to obey Christ in faith. Before parting ways we prayed together and we both left encouraged.
I did not expect to meet anyone on the riverbank that day, but God knew that Dirau and I would meet. I am not certain that I will always be ready for the opportunities that come for evangelism and discipleship. What is certain is that the peace of God is greater than the sum of all my uncertainties.