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Lives Made New

Wano evangelist Liku takes the good news of Jesus to Puluk

By Natalie Holsten

In many ways, Liku lives the life of a typical Wano (WAH-no) man. He has a wife and children. He tends a garden of sweet potatoes. He walks the trails and shares stories by the fire.

He’s experienced the fear that comes from being enslaved to evil spirits and animistic traditions. But he also knows the true freedom that comes through faith in Jesus.

Liku, an evangelist and Bible teacher working in the Wano village of Puluk in Papua, Indonesia, is a bit of a poet, using examples from everyday life to express deep theological truths.

When the airstrip opened in his home base of Mokndoma in 2014, he wanted to illustrate to the MAF pilots what the airstrip meant to him.

So he smeared himself with dirt and told them the dirt was like sin. Then he held up a mirror and said it was like the Word of God that missionaries Tim and Mike gave them, making them aware of their sin. Then he pulled a shirt over his head and said it was like Jesus, covering his sin.

“God placed me into Christ, like me putting on this shirt. When God sees me, he doesn’t see my sin anymore,” he explained. He said the new airstrip would allow him and others to pass on the truth of the “mirror and shirt.”

Since then, he and others have done just that, traveling by MAF plane to carry the life-changing news of Jesus to other Wano villages, most recently to the hamlet of Puluk.

Wano evangelist Liku teaches God’s Word in the village of Puluk, in Papua, Indonesia. Photo by Lemuel Malabuyo.

Liku knows how difficult the trail linking Puluk to Mokndoma is. He knows what climbing the mountains in a downpour is like, he knows the danger of crossing the vine bridges that span the river, and how challenging it can be to come to the bridge, only to find it’s been slashed by a neighboring tribe.

He also knows the difference the MAF plane makes, reducing the three-day trek to a 10-minute flight.

Liku, in his poetic way, describes it in Wano terms: “This airstrip is a trail. It can bring medicine. It brings Yahweh’s word.”

The people in Puluk were anxious for Bible teachers to come from Mokndoma and share the good news of Jesus with them. This motivated them to work on the airstrip, to get it safe enough for an MAF plane to land.

“It was by MAF that we were able to come here,” Liku shared. “They (people of Puluk) sent lots of letters asking for us to come and teach them. But how would we be able to bring our wives and children and hike this long distance? There is no way. As soon as the airstrip was complete, we were here within a week! So they are super grateful for the airstrip.”

In June of last year, MAF pilot Nathan Fagerlie flew Liku and two other Bible teachers, along with their families, into Puluk. They built houses there and settled into the full-time job of the chronological teaching of Creation to Christ.

The people of Puluk were hungry for God’s Word, and eagerly received what the teachers shared, with 78 people sharing clear testimonies of faith in Jesus. Now the body of believers is growing in their understanding of what it means to follow Him.

“They put their faith in Jesus,” Liku said. “So now it’s with great joy that they continue to learn. And we love living with them.”

The transforming power of the gospel is evident in the lives of the people in Puluk, Liku said, with many of them giving up the old ways, which involved appeasing evil spirits – be it how they planted their gardens, or how they reacted to a “bad omen.” They were bound in fear.

“All that they left behind them,” Liku said. “And now their lives are very new.”

In Puluk:  Liku, center, and his brother, right, who is also part of the teaching team. Photo by Brian Marx.

Nathan, who frequently flies into Puluk, has heard testimonies from new believers there, including one man who used to call himself a “pastor” even though he realizes now he didn’t know the truth until hearing the teaching from Liku and the others.

Nathan shared, “He was giving his testimony and he said, ‘Look, I’m an old man. I’ve expected to die now for many, many years. But if I had died yesterday, I would have gone to hell. I know that now. But just like Simeon, just like God kept him alive to see the Christ, God kept me alive to hear His Word,’” Nathan shared.

The Puluk believers have been so impacted by the airstrip in their village that a group of them hiked over to Mokndoma to help do improvements on that airstrip, extending it so that the MAF Kodiak could carry out heavier loads.

“This airstrip is important,” Liku said. “If the airstrip is functional, God’s Word can go out super quickly. Medicine can quickly go out. And other supplies that are needed, can quickly be brought via the airplane. With this in mind, some of us from here left to go help our friends in Mokndoma work on the airstrip.”

Liku and the other teachers will continue to teach through the New Testament epistles, and there are plans for literacy workers to come to Puluk. Eventually they will identify the next generation of leaders and train them.

And if the call comes to go to a new place to teach, Liku is ready: “While I’m alive, I will continue to do my work.”

Meet Liku in this short video: Wistia

You can see Liku and the story of how the airstrip in Puluk opened in the MAF documentary ENDS OF THE EARTH. For streaming or purchase options, visit Ends of the Earth – Mission Aviation Fellowship (maf.org).

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