Praise God for many people movements in West Papua in the last 100 years. Over 90% of indigenous peoples are Christian! They face tribal conflict, political tensions, a mix of Christianity and animist practices, and oppression by others. Workers have located and contacted 100 less-reached smaller ethnic groups. Many need evangelism and church planting. Christian aviation is necessary in this land with few roads. Bible translation for the many small language groups remains an immense task. Possibly the biggest challenge is the unrest that has come as a result of millions of Indonesians from Java and Madura being resettled here. The indigenous Papuans are a minority in their own land, and feel like the national government is allowing them to be slowly wiped out.
Papua and West Papua:
- Missionary numbers are on the increase again - both expatriate and indigenous Indonesians and Papuans. Most work in towns and coastal areas and serve in a wide range of ministries. More are needed who can pioneer unreached rural areas and transmigrant communities. Other pioneer areas have opened up as well in recent years.
- Christian aviation is essential in this land with few roads. MAF has 22 planes here. WT-Tariku, Yajasi (a SIL-JAARS partner) and Helimission also have flying programmes in some of the most rigorous conditions in the world. Pray for safety; there have been bad accidents. Pray for more to be called to this ministry and for its funding. Flying costs can be high, but inland economies often depend on this.
- The transmigrants continue to arrive (5,000 every week from Java alone), to multiply and to dominate. They have often gained land and privileges at the expense of the indigenous Papuans and care little for the injustices suffered by the people onto whose land they are moving. Transmigrants already dominate the few urban centres. Pray that God may call some Christians to boldly and lovingly bring the gospel to these people, who themselves are in a new and foreign land. The Free Papua Movement has introduced uncertainty and threats of violence against these transmigrants as well.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.