May 21, 2011

Papua, Indonesia (Part II)

MAF Then...
MAF has been operating in Papua since 1952. Two mission organizations TEAM and UFM invited MAF to come with them to Papua (then called Dutch New Guinea) to provide their flight needs. At that time, the Island of New Guinea remained largely untouched by the outside world. It is really exciting to read some of the accounts of how early missionaries went to Papua following God's calling & literally risking their lives - not in an attempt to bring their culture to Papuans, but to bring the Gospel of Christ.


I recently read "The Peace Child" by Don Richardson, a story of how the Richardson's spent years of their lives living with, building relationships with, & learning how to communicate with a Papuan people called the Sawi (group #242 on the linguistic map on my last post). The result was a translation of the bible in the Sawi language and a growing vibrant Sawi church. As our family prepares to serve in Papua, it is amazing to think of the generations that have gone before ours, and have served in many different areas, roles, and organizations - all with a common goal.

MAF Now...
Today, MAF has about 38 full time missionary families based in Papua, along with about 80 Indonesian staff. Currently with a fleet of 13 aircraft MAF operates out of 6 different bases located around the province.

















MAF supports churches and mission efforts, and also provides medical assistance, disaster relief, education opportunities, and community development. Who and what MAF carries in their planes from landing strip to landing strip has become much broader since 1952, but one thing that hasn't changed much is the reliance on aircraft. For example, the city of Wamena located in the Baliem Valley in the center of Papua has a population of 10000 plus and is the largest 'urban' centre south of the capital Jayapura (Wamena is also the location of one of MAF's bases). If you want to travel to Wamena, and don't want to spend weeks to months walking, you have one option - air travel! Considering this, you can imagine the challenge of transportation to and from the hundreds of smaller villages scattered throughout Papua.

A random example of an air strip in Papua. To regularly fly into and out of strips like this, one can see why MAF puts such an emphasis on training & preparation for both the pilots, mechanics, and other support staff. Compared to most flying here in North America, there is less 'room for error' due to shorter runways and a lack of places to land if you do have an issue in the air.

From afar, this mountain valley looks like it could be north of Revelstoke, BC (the town I grew up in) in the Selkirk mountains...except for the airstrip and the lack of logging roads :)

1 comment:

  1. MAY THE LORD BLESS ALL MISSIONARIES OVER THE WORLD. WHEN I WAS A YOUNG MAN, I READ THE BOOKS OF DON RICHARDSON IN MISSION IN IRYAN JAYA, AND UNTIL NOW HIS STORIES IS AMAZING FOR ME. THANKS THE LORD!

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