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Real Change

How missionaries, an airstrip, MAF airplanes, a school, and a clinic are being used by God to change the ending for the Moi people

“My baby’s dying. Can you help?”

Stephen and Carolyn, missionaries among the Moi people in a remote village of Papua, Indonesia, were often awakened at night by desperate cries like the one above. The couple has lived and worked with the Moi people since 2000. They and their own two children were far from any medical center, or any other modern convenience, for that matter.

Moi parents and children in Papua Indonesia with Mission Aviation Fellowship charity airplane.
Moi parents carry their children with MAF airplane in background. Photo by Mark Hewes.

“We maybe had some trauma from years of being here and going through times where the ‘plague’ or something would go through … we’d have a lot of babies dying, people sick,” said Stephen.

Today, there’s a clinic in the Moi village—and an elementary school. There are Christian nurses, and teachers. An airstrip, completed in 2008, opened the doors for all of this.

The airstrip in the Moi village gives access to food, supplies, education, medicine and healthcare. Photo by Rich B.

“We’ve worked very close with MAF through the years and we’re so thankful, said Stephen. “Everything that’s happened in here is because of what these flight services have offered us. The Moi themselves have benefited, not only from medicine but also physical material things as well.”

And the Moi have benefited from the couple’s presence as well. They’ve learned to read in their tribal language. They’ve learned about “God’s Story” and how the creator of the universe loved them and gave His life for them.

“God’s word has changed everything for them,” said Stephen.

Moi people read portions of the Bible in their tribal language. Photo by Mark Hewes.

The Moi lived in fear of evil spirits, in fear of death. They’ll tell you, “‘Satan blinded our eyes. He blinded the eyes of our ancestors. We were living in darkness. We had no hope,’“ said Stephen. “A lot of things they believed in their old culture—they were, of course, uneducated—but it’s because Satan blinded their eyes. I think to some degree it incapacitated them. They couldn’t think logically about a lot of things.”

But as soon as the Moi received the gospel, and with the Holy Spirit living inside of them, Stephen says it was almost immediate: they started thinking logically.

“We’ve seen some physical and material things that have taken place because of that too. That kind of leads into the school and medicine as well,” added Stephen. “Once the scriptural foundation was there, these other things fell into place quite naturally and they were ready for that change.”

Increasing Health

The local clinic—called the Siloam Clinic—ensures the health of the students and their families, as well as other Moi in surrounding areas. One key way it’s helping is by providing immunizations.

“As foreigners we’re not able to get these immunizations,” explained Carolyn. “But because they’re national, they’re able to get those from the health department. Their whole program of immunization has been wonderful, for the babies and children.“

One of the Siloam Clinic nurses attends to a Moi mother and child. Photo by Lem Malabuyo.

The medical staff have been able to address some of the bigger health issues, too, like malaria.

“It’s nearly an epidemic,” said Dr. David, who heads up the clinic here.

The medical team spends time educating the people on how to lead healthier lives. That includes telling them how to avoid getting malaria. One way is to change out the water barrels around their homes every few days to avoid mosquito larva from being able to hatch.

Dr. David at the Siloam Clinic in the Moi village. Photo by Mark Hewes.

The parents have learned how to provide good, nutritious food for their kids, and all have learned about good hygiene—guarding their health that way.

Without medical help, the population of the Moi people would decline because they wouldn’t be able to address their medical issues. “Without MAF,“ Dr. David says, “we cannot be here. We couldn’t operate the clinic.

“If you have somebody in an emergency situation with medical health needs, the nearest clinic, if we weren’t here, would take three days of hiking and a day-long boat trip to get to. But with MAF, they can get to the nearest medical facility within 30 minutes.

Food and supplies arrives in a remote village in Papua, Indonesia by Mission Aviation Fellowship aircraft
The Moi unload food and supplies that have arrived on the MAF airplane. Photo by Lem Malabuyo.

“In order for us to be able to function here, either as the school or the clinic, MAF is playing a key role in that. MAF brings the medicine from the nearby city of Nabire so we can distribute. MAF is not only bringing our food supplies but also mosquito nets that we can give to the people. Everything we need MAF is providing for us in a very, very good, efficient way.”

Growing in Character

“My hope for the children of the school here is that they’ll continue to grow in Christ and will have a good future—a bright future,” said Inai, one of the young teachers at the Moi school, Lantern of Hope (SLH).

MAF aircraft bring teachers isolated mountain villages so children can learn.
Inai teaches a class of third graders. Photo by Mark Hewes.

SLH is different. Our focus is not only teaching academics, but we also focus on the character of the children,” added Melani, who teaches 1st grade.

First grade teacher, Melani. Photo by Mark Hewes.

The children have changed quite a bit since classes started in 2016. At first, they had a hard time obeying their teachers, and they had a hard time working together. But the classroom activities have helped the children learn to work together, and they’ve learned to respect and listen to their teachers.

Another big change for the children is that they’ve learned to speak Indonesian—the official trade language of the country. They’re even helping their parents understand Indonesian.

Yume, who also teaches 1st grade, hopes the children will continue to be enthusiastic about learning in school, and always humble. “Because I really believe they will become leaders of Papua in the future. That they’ll be people who fear the Lord, respect the Lord, honor the Lord.”

SLH teachers (left to right): Melani, Inai, Frida, Yume. Photo by Mark Hewes.

Filled with Joy

Nineteen years after they arrived to live with the Moi, things have changed for Stephen and Carolyn as well. With the clinic there and the people being healthier in general, those nighttime visits are rare now.

But more importantly, the Moi are absorbing God’s Word and growing in their faith. And that’s evident by the conversations they have with them.

Stephen and a Moi man enjoy coffee and conversation. Photo by Mark Hewes.

“There’s just a joy that permeates the whole community,” said Stephen. “Anytime we want, we can walk out to our yard, talk to anybody passing through and they’ll just stop and talk about God,” said Stephen.

“The women, especially, often come by the house and share with me what they were reading last night, throughout the night,” said Carolyn. “One of the most important things for them to own is a flashlight. They use the time in their huts at night to be able to read God’s word.”

Carolyn visits with the Moi women. Photo by Mark Hewes.

“It’s been really thrilling for us to see how God’s word has gone forth,” added Carolyn. “And I love that verse that says, people and their beauty will fade away, but God’s word lasts forever. And we’ve really seen that to be true here where it’s really moving people’s lives and changing lives.”


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