Sunday, June 8, 2014

One Question: Advice from Papua, Indonesia

In my last journal entry, I wrote about the ups and downs of adjusting to a new culture and life in Papua. In my list of 10 things, two of the positive aspects of living in Papua were the gains of having local friends who encourage and advise. 

Papuan and Indonesian friends have a lot to say about how western missionaries should behave and serve their country. So they should. Over the last three months we have learned a great deal from these friends, lessons that I could not have learned so effectively any other way.

Recently, I wrote to many friends who are nationals of countries that receive missionaries. All of these friends have worked with westerners and many of them have served as missionaries themselves. I asked my friends to respond to one question, 

“What advice would you give a western missionary coming to serve in your country?” 

Every Monday, internet access permitting, I’ll post their responses. Today we’ll start here in Papua with my friend Soro. Soro was our first language teacher and is on his way to Australia to complete his master’s degree. 

Advice from Soro in Papua, Indonesia

“Papua land is a small heaven which fell to the earth” this is a sentence of a song named “I am Papuan” it shows how Papuans so proud about their given island and everything consist in, such as, natural resources, beautiful views, multiple cultures and the creatures live in.

West Papua is a good place. However until today, many of areas in Papua still need special intentions because of the limitation of the access of some crucial sectors. This is one of the reasons why Papua needs those who come to serve with heart and strong willingness because of the challenges that they will face.

I know what is missionary when I was child, because missionary have brought Papua into a better civilization and close to Jesus. Until today missionary is still needed in West Papua, because West Papua needs those who work with heart and love.

Missionary are good people, and good people are mirror. People want to see if they look nice or not by facing a mirror, good people are candle, people put them on the high place so they can give the light for everyone. 

Jesus blesses all of us.

What have I learned from Soro?
  • Papuans are very proud of their island. I must respect and honor their home.
  •  Papuans recognise there will be challenges for western missionaries and aren't interested in flaky service. Those who come to serve must have a strong willingness to stay despite the difficulties.
  • Above all, I must serve with genuine love. My life is a mirror to those around me. What kind of life am I living? Am I an example of genuine love, or caught up in my own service and thinking?

 I have much to learn, but with the help of local friends, I will do it.

What about you? Are you from a country that typically receives western missionaries and charity workers? What are we doing wrong? What are we doing right? E-mail me your thoughts on

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