Wind Beneath His Wings
“Fifteen years ago, an ordinary farmer’s boy with a history of stealing and mischief arrived at Mustard Seed’s school. Now, he is taking the lead to pioneer a school in one of the toughest areas in the Papuan Highlands. All because someone prayed every morning.“
He was just twelve years old, but he had to make decisions like an adult. His parents had just separated; now a new male figure had entered his life. The school he had attended for the last six years had ended. Broken home, broken hearted, and with no promising future, Harta had to make a decision. His heartfelt desire was to find a school and he was determined to focus on this however high the cost.
Someone had told him of a school that would accept children just like him, but the journey would take him through a densely tropical jungle and over rocky mountains. The jungle is not a place for a child, but he was lucky. If not for a truck driver offering him a ride, he would have been walking for four days. Barefooted, but with a full heart, Harta arrived at the door of Mustard Seed’s school.
Catherine Wilson sat quietly while she read Mustard Seed’s newsletter. She had always been drawn to God’s work in Southeast Asia, and the news about a young lad from remote Papuan Highlands moved her heart. She grew up on a farm just like him. She had experienced attending and teaching in a one room school with a big wood stove in the classroom. She knew how water tasted from a well. Harta’s struggle spoke to her, and that day she made a decision. She took Harta into her heart.
Years of prayers woven together united Catherine and Harta. Harta might not know her personally, but could it be that her prayers helped him through difficult times? Could it be her prayers helped him during his struggles in high school? And could it be her faith and support brought him all the way to his high school graduation day and led him on to Mustard Seed’s teacher-training program?
It was in 2012 that Catherine and Harta began to correspond through letters. They would exchange stories about families, activities in college, tradition, and Bible verses. Harta’s father passed away several months after he started his training to be a teacher at TransformNation (TfN) program. Not being able to attend his father’s funeral, Harta poured out his grief by studying and writing to Catherine.
Harta experienced deep culture shock as he adapted to his new life in TfN. Months turned into years. It took him at least two years before he finally adapted to the new culture of TfN. He learned to see Christ above the Papuan culture. The concept of grace, apologizing, and accepting failure were totally new concepts for him. TfN mentoring helped Harta to see his identity in Christ, more than in his culture or background. Previously, Harta knew nothing about concepts like time management, goal setting, and planning. Four years of mentoring brought him to see all the resources that he had and how to manage them. Above all, he knew his identity in Christ, his calling to serve children in his village, and his gift to be loved by children.
Harta’s leadership skills grew stronger as he graduated from the TfN program and then started teaching in Borneo. Meanwhile his friendship with Catherine remained. Harta wrote, ”I love you, Mrs. Wilson. I finished my studies because of you. I could never repay your kindness…” Catherine loved his letters and was excited to see him teaching in a one room school like the one she remembered.
Harta moved to a school in Papua in the third year of his internship. It was then that he learned of Catherine's passing. He was overwhelmed by sadness and felt as though his wings had broken. For years Catherine was his best encourager, his life-long supporter, and his spiritual mother. She was the “wind beneath his wings”. In tears, he reached for Catherine’s letters and re-read them all. One of Catherine’s handwritten letters stood out, ”I pray for you every morning.”
February 2021. A group of Papuan men gathered under a tin roof church. All the village elders had arrived. Harta stood up in front of them. As he started to speak, all the villager’s eyes were locked on him. “This is the farmer’s boy that left this village 15 years ago,” they thought to themselves. But their doubts soon turned into applause when they heard Harta's plan to start the first school in their village. Hope arose in their hearts as they learned that teachers were on their way and the doors of a one room school would be open to seventy no-longer-forgotten children. A new dawn had begun.
In Christ Alone was Catherine's song. Her legacy. Catherine might not hear the applause of Harta’s villagers or see Harta’s pictures surrounded by smiling children. She might not realize the legacy she her prayers left behind. Catherine’s legacy remains in Christ alone. And it lives in the hearts of Harta and hundreds of Papuan children.
Watch the video below to see the school that Harta started: