We Are Pressed on Every Side, but We Are Not Crushed
Last year, TransformNation (TfN) graduate, Harta, and two TfN interns, Martin and Evan, pioneered a Christian school in one of the most remote locations of the Papuan Highlands. As the school development began, so did waves of challenges. Shortages, dark magic, infectious disease and tribal war attacked them from every side. Hear first hand from the team as they shared their experiences with us and how their faith continues to sustain their ministry.
Why did you decide to build a school?
Harta: We want the children to have a permanent place to study. There is no school building in the village, and we are using a honai (traditional Papuan hut with a grass roof) owned by the villagers.
How is the development going?
Harta: In early March, we started to build a foundation for our kindergarten. We were able to use local materials like stones and wood. But many materials such as nails, cement and the tin roof have to be flown from Java.
How do you see this school impacting the children?
Harta: This school will help children to develop good character traits such as the fear of the Lord, showing respect, care, love and generosity. It’s also important to teach them decision making, as in knowing how to choose right from wrong.
What is the most challenging part of this development?
Evan: Because of the location, it’s difficult to get the materials, and prices are 3-4 times higher for everything: food, building materials, even the builders’ fee.
Martin: There are some people who don’t agree with this development because they want to control and profit from it. One of them claimed dark magic was used to disturb us. He bragged that he sent out a dark spirit to attack us in our honai. We heard sounds at night, and something shook the doors and windows, trying to enter the room. We couldn’t sleep. And then on the night before Good Friday, while we were resting, Harta’s body started to tremble, and his left foot became extremely swollen. He screamed in pain as he was sweating a lot from a high fever. He looked like he was going to die. There is no clinic around, so we had to seek medical help in the nearest city.
Harta: Yes, the villagers said that dark spirits made me sick with an infection. But I refused to believe that. I took it as a challenge: was I going to give up or put my hope in God and decide to go on.
Can you share about the recent tribal war?
Martin: Tribal war, fueled by revenge, is common here. During May and June, we had to stop working and close our school because our village was attacked. Four people died, including two family members of our students. More than 20 people were badly injured. We took refuge in the nearest city. When we fled from the mob, we saw people carrying arrows and long machetes. We thought they would catch us because Harta is a native of the village. We prayed, and they let us through.
Were you scared of these experiences?
Evan: There were moments when we felt like we were in a deep, dark valley. We didn’t know what to do. We are pressed from every side, but we are not crushed. We believe that God started this good work, and we trust Him.
What did you say to the students about the war?
Harta: We mourned together for the lost lives, and we gave thanks to the Lord because now they have a school that will bring hope and change.
Would education bring changes to this community?
Martin: Definitely! Christian education brings transformation and creativity inspired by the Holy Spirit. Christian education can work towards ending pre-existing practices, such as wars, by providing peaceful options for people to consider.