To Every Tribe

How your partnership is introducing a remote, primitive tribe to Jesus                                             

When Petrus Giay, an Indonesian missionary, finally found the Weserau tribe deep in the mountainous interior of Papua, Indonesia, he wasn’t welcomed with open arms. It was obvious by their primitive garments made of bark, and their fear, that this tribe had little contact with outsiders. Their first instinct was to kill Petrus, who was trying desperately to communicate with hand gestures since he didn’t know their language. Finally, a small boy convinced the others that Petrus was a teacher, sent to help them.

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MAF’s Caravan floatplane landing at Esrotnamba with dugout canoes in the foreground. Photo by Mark and Kelly Hewes.

These people had been on Petrus’ heart ever since MAF surveyed unreached tribes in the 1990s. Petrus joined a Papuan church on two different outreach trips to small villages in the area, and saw the great need there. Setting out on foot, he trekked four weeks through difficult terrain and finally reached the Weserau people.

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Landing at Esrotnamba. Photo by Mark and Kelly Hewes.

Petrus’ discovery opened the door for MAF to help the Baliem Mission Center (BMC)—an organization supported by local Indonesian churches—to bring the Word of God, education, and healthcare to the Weserau people. In the beginning stages, BMC chartered a helicopter to take a small mission team to the area. Long-term, however, they would need MAF’s services as the helicopter was too costly and didn’t hold enough cargo. So on their third flight in they brought along MAF pilot Pieter van Dijk to survey the area. Van Dijk was dismayed when he saw just how rugged it was, and that there was no possible location for an airstrip.

Van Dijk couldn’t stop thinking about it. “I really felt like God was tugging on my heart—what can MAF do?”

While working on an airplane the day after his visit, he remembered a beautiful lake near the Weserau tribe’s village. And all of a sudden it occurred to him: We have an amphibious Caravan at another MAF base! Could we bring this floatplane up to Esrotnamba?

This was way out of the normal flight range for the Caravan. However, Pieter’s plan worked and MAF was able to make special arrangements. In 2012 MAF began serving the village with its floatplane, the only one in all of Papua. Since then they’ve brought in BMC teams three or four times a year, along with supplies, medicine, and building materials—enough to construct a church, a medical clinic, a school, and 21 homes!

“We have seen many changes in the community, both spiritual and physical,” said Dr. Roland Lallo, who is on staff with BMC and serves as a doctor at the clinic. “We can see it in those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior. The community is healthier; the children are receiving better nutrition.”

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The church under construction at Esrotnamba. Photo by Mark and Kelly Hewes.

A pastor and his wife are based there year-round, along with a doctor and nurse. Additional doctors, teachers, and work teams, visit for weeks at a time. The children have made great progress in learning to read.

“The people seem calmer and more at peace with each other,” says floatplane pilot John Dalton. There’s a lot less fear—fear of the unknown, of evil spirits, and just fear in general.

Petrus, BMC, and MAF are focused on reaching the last isolated people groups in Papua, like the Weserau, with Christ’s love. This unique partnership—which includes your support—is allowing that to happen.

Villagers load bundles of Massoia bark to sell in Nabire. Photo by Mark and Kelly Hewes.

Villagers load bundles of Massoia bark to sell in Nabire. Photo by Mark and Kelly Hewes.

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