The airplane helps meet tremendous needs in Papua, Indonesia.

By June 22, 2006

Indonesia (MNN) — On the western half of the island of New Guinea is the Indonesian province of Papua, a vast land geographically and a dark land spiritually. It borders the country of Papua New Guinea, but is one of the largest provinces in Indonesia.

Papua’s infrastructure is very poor, with many areas and people groups in the highlands unreachable by road. Hidden away in its swamps, mountains and rain forests, Papua contains a number of primitive and Stone-Age tribes who remain unreached by the Gospel.

Many of the areas are only accessible by airplane, and Mission Aviation Fellowship is there to meet the needs and penetrate those isolated areas. MAF is serving the local church, says Roy Kidjo, who works in MAF’s Papua program, “The local church has been growing fast and there’s thousands of local churches that use the facility of MAF. So it is very important to be able to connect with the local church.”

There’s still a tremendous need in Papua, and Kidjo says the challenge for the local churches is getting to those places, and “if they have to walk or they have to use a canoe by river, it will take weeks and even months. So MAF plays a tremendous important role in taking church leaders and pastors and local missionaries to these remote places. So this is actually the challenge that the church is facing, and that is transportation, and actually cheap transportation.”

It’s about equipping and enabling the national believers, says Kidjo, because “Their desire is to reach their own people and they are actually the perfect people to go and evangelize to their own people. Because they know the culture (and) they know the language, they’re easily adapted to the new environment where they are in.”

The reason the nationals are perfect for the job, explains Kidjo, is due to the nature of Papua itself, and MAF plays an important role in the process, “The interior of Papua is very rugged; for a westerner to go to these rugged places, it takes a lot of energy and a lot of effort. And it is a very harsh condition. And for the local church to do this, it takes very little.”

MAF is also helping provide assistance in education and training the local church. While the church in Papua is capable and healthy, Kidjo believes, “the local church can use help in regards to training and regard to also bringing resources to make sure that they can do the job well.”

Pray for the church to continue growing stronger and reaching out to their own people. Pray that the church will wisely deal with political leaders, many of whom try to misuse the church as a tool to reach these people in the interior. Pray for western missionaries’ visas, which have been difficult to obtain, to come through.

Kidjo says they’re only able to meet less than a third of the demand in Papua. Pilots, mechanics, airplanes, teachers and other people are needed to serve in that field. Contact MAF through their information listed below for details.

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