Indonesia (MNN) — You have a broken leg. Simply go to the local hospital and get it patched up in a cast, right?
But what if the nearest access to the hospital was a full day’s journey? By hiking? Suddenly easily curable diseases and illnesses can become life-threatening in this scenario.
This is the reality for people today living in remote villages in Indonesia. Because of this, a new airstrip in one of these valleys is more than a construction project. It’s a life-changing opportunity.
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) recently completed a successful landing on the new airstrip in Tibul, a village in Papua, Indonesia. This new airstrip will provide easier access to things like education and medical care for 15-20 villages, with several hundred people in each village.
Kees Janse, MAF’s Wamena Base Manager, explains, “The Tibul airstrip has been under construction for many years. The area was reached first in the 1980’s by missionaries, and they started building in the 90’s but more seriously in 2005. It took about 10 years to complete this airstrip so it was quite a milestone to be able to open it and use it with our aircraft!”
While MAF has confirmed the airstrip with the test landing, they still need approval from the government to use it as an official airstrip. Government officials will be flying in next week to inspect the runway. Once approved, the airstrip will be fully operational.
Villages already living close to airstrips have access to teachers, doctors, medicine and equipment. But the landscape of Papua means that not everyone has easy access to these commodities.
“If you have ever seen pictures of Papua from the air you know that it is a very rugged area, lots of mountains, lots of rainforests. So about every valley where people are living needs an airstrip in order to have access to it,” says Janse. “This group living close to Tibul and the surrounding villages, they will have a direct access with the airplane, and with that will come a lot of other things like education and medical care.”
The increased access to medical care will be especially significant for the villages with access to the new airstrip.
Janse explains, “One important aspect will be the medical emergencies we will be able to do whenever they call us. A lot of them are pregnancy related. When a delivery is taking too long or is not going smooth, we pick the woman up and take her quickly to the hospital.”
The village of Tibul’s next goal is to set-up a primary school. With this new airstrip, now they can fly in supplies to build the school, books and desks for the kids, and teachers.
“It is always difficult for these [missionaries’] families to be that far away from the airstrip and that isolated from their families as well. So typically their families would stay somewhere else and the evangelist would travel back and forth so that his own children could have an education. Now with the situation like this, if they start up a school it’s a whole lot easier for an evangelist with a family to settle there so there’s a lot more continuity hopefully with the bringing of the Gospel in there when an evangelist or pastor can settle there.”
This new airstrip will also have a significant impact on missionaries’ abilities to share the Gospel and disciple believers in these remote villages.
Janse says, “We work together with a Bible school here…that sends their students out for practical periods like internships with another pastor to particularly isolated areas. So I hope that one of those students from this Bible school is willing to go to Tibul, they can take turns and minister in that area.”
You can do two things…
“I think the biggest need for this area [is] the discipling, the growing and knowing the Word and applying it in their lives,” Janse shares. “A lot of these areas we come to that have been very lightly exposed to the Gospel. There is some basic knowledge but very little application in daily lives. So there’s a lot of witchcraft still going on and a lot of fear for the spirits. I think the prayer request would be that God would provide a faithful evangelist or pastor who is willing to settle there now that it’s easier to go in and out of that village.”
You don’t need to hop on a plane to make a difference in the life of someone in another country. Support an MAF missionary as they fly to meet tangible needs and share the hope of Christ in hard-to-reach areas.