New Hope. New Life. New Dreams.
By Paul Richardson
“I stepped off the plane in Papua with a full heart. I was about to spend a week traveling with some of our best young teachers and leaders.”
I had asked Ari, Siela, and Michael to meet me in Jayapura. Ari is the founder of a school on the Island of Promise where he was born and raised. After Siela graduated from the TransformNation program, she spent two years as a teacher on the Island of Promise. Siela then led her own team to Spice Island to open a school.
Picture: Ari (centre), Siela (right) with the leader of Mustard Seed's partner school in the Papuan Highland
Michael was the youngest in our group. Newly graduated and filled with exciting dreams, he is currently a part of our team opening a new school on Rusen Island. The four of us were planning to encourage our teachers who had been posted in remote highland villages. How could we have known that we were the ones who were about to be encouraged?
Picture: Ari (left), Paul (centre), and Michael (right)
First, the Papuan Highlands. TransformNation graduate Kashi serves as the principal. Remarkably mature for her mid 20’s, Kashi is a visionary leader who fearlessly and relentlessly refocuses our eyes on Christ.
Picture: Siela (left) and Kashi (right)
Leland is one of our emerging stars. Passionate to disciple teenagers, he is the kind of teacher who changes the lives of his students. New graduates Elisa, Tabitha and newlyweds Alicia and Raymond are also serving in the Papuan Highlands. We ate together and shared stories late into the night. I listened as they told of their victories, insights, adventures, and about how God had been with them in spite of loneliness. They told of students who were growing and learning, and kids who were giving their hearts to God. Everyone was taking notes.
Picture: Alicia (in blue), Constance (in yellow), and Leland (right)
The next morning we travelled to another Mustard Seed partner school in the Papuan Highlands. John showed me his classroom. He talked excitedly about the progress his 1st graders are making. Tirta plans to go back to his own village and start up a school for the hundreds of children there. Harta, too, has been asking for the last three years for the chance to open a school in his village. He has already gone home and convinced the leaders in his village to dedicate some land and put up a building. Evan and Martin will be joining him. Paul and his fiancée are planning to get married soon.
Picture: Paul Richardson with two of Tirta's students (Lia and Alfrida) from the Papuan Higlands.
The following day we attended graduation at MSI’s school where MSI leaders, Rasi and Elok serve. I was asked to give diplomas to the graduates. As they came forward, I saw the excitement in their eyes. Most were the first graduates in their families. Mustard Seed had provided them with opportunities and options that their parents and grandparents never dreamed possible. Our little team then provided a day of leadership seminars for several hundred pastors, Bible School students and church planters. Just imagine how fun it is to teach people who lean forward, excited to learn and eager to change!
Picture: Tirta (left) and Leland (right)
On my flight home, I closed my eyes and thanked God for the life that I had seen bursting up everywhere on this wonderful trip.