Village Heartbeat works alongside the Moni, Wolani, Nduga, Dani and Wano communities living in the general Intan Jaya area, a part of Indonesia’s most eastern province. This unique land mass is often referred to as one of the last great frontiers on earth. From the ice-enshrouded peaks of Puncak Jaya to the dense tropical jungles of the lowlands, Papua is a land of stark contrasts. This South Pacific island is home to more than one fifth of the world’s languages! These languages belong to some of the most unique and diverse cultural groups found anywhere on earth. The beautiful yet startling faces of the numerous indigenous groups only add to the mystique and confirm the fact that contrast is the beauty of life.
It would only follow that such a diverse area would also require many different approaches to addressing the spiritual and social needs of isolated tribal groups. The day of pioneer missions is not completely over, but in its place has evolved the urgent need to equip and empower local church and village leaders to become more self-sufficient so as to avoid the natural tendency of dependence ever prevalent among poor communities.
I was raised in Papua. My parents were first-generation missionaries there and they lived and served among ethnic tribal groups for almost 40 years. They took several Moni orphans into our home, and as I lived together with my new family and spent quality time in the villages with other tribal groups, I grew up integrated into and comfortable with both the Papuan and Western worlds. I now count it a privilege to be a partner with these very special people, together planning and preparing for their future, filled with challenges, but also based on cooperation rather than dependence.