Papua (MNN) — Before 1999, no one knew the Moi people of Papua, Indonesia existed. However, missionary pilots saw the village from the air. That point of contact has now led to missionaries traveling to the region, and it couldn't have happened without the help of Mission Aviation Fellowship.
Speaking to Mission Network News via Skype, New Tribes Mission missionary Stephen Crockett is now living among the Moi people. "As they would fly over the area, of course, they would look down and they would see houses and huts down there — definitely no modern conveniences or anything like that. So, definitely [it was] a tribal group that needed to be reached."
Crocket says it was a dream come true for missionaries.
Initially another missionary flight service brought them in by helicopter. As soon as they arrived, the missionaries began work on an airstrip so that MAF could fly in and provide food, transportation, and other necessities. But, Crocket says, that took some time. "There were times when the helicopter would not make it to us with the supplies we needed, and MAF was doing air drops to keep us going here."
But, in 2007 the airstrip opened and is now fully servicing the New Tribes missionaries working with the Moi.
Crocket describes their work. "We're involved in Bible translation, literacy and church planting. Recently, we had evangelism that took place, and over 100 people put their faith in Christ at that time. And then, just recently, we finished teaching through Acts and had a baptism for those believers."
While the Bible hasn't been completely translated, Crocket says they are making progress. They have about 3,000 verses translated, which include the book of Acts and some 600 verses in the Gospels and the Old Testament.
That has allowed New Tribes to begin sharing what they call Creator Talks. "We pulled out the few Scriptures that we had translated and said, 'What we're giving you right now is a message from the Creator. It's a message He has for the Moi people. And that's why we're here.'"
Crocket says the partnership with MAF helped make this possible.
There has been some discouragement along the way, says Crocket. Even a year ago things weren't going very well. "I would have maybe given 10 years to be at this point. Things are starting to explode right now and really move ahead. We're starting to see Bible teachers from the Moi being raised up, and they're starting to help us with the Bible teaching."
Currently, some 80 missionary organizations and Indonesian churches rely on MAF services in Papua.
Every day, these flights carry pastors, trainers, evangelists, storytellers and disciplers who meet spiritual needs throughout this vast, rugged place.
Support MAF and help transform lives for all eternity. Learn more at www.maf.org.