Matt and Amanda G., are currently living and ministering on the island of Java in Indonesia. Matt serves as the Coordinator of Southeast Asia for HeartCry. He and Amanda, together with their three young sons – Aidan, Elliot, and Owen – have also been serving as missionaries in Indonesia since July of 2011. We hope that this update will help you to know a little of the work God is doing there and that it will stir you to pray for this family as they seek to serve the Lord in this dark country!
English Lessons in the Village
Matt has been waiting for several months for permission and the right circumstances to begin teaching English lessons in Utep’s home village south of our city. (Utep is the only one from this village who has ever believed). A few weeks ago, Matt and Utep traveled there by motorcycle to conduct their first lesson, and around forty children showed up! Matt was encouraged by the turnout and that the students were very participatory and eager to learn. There has continued to be a good turnout every week, usually with twenty or thirty kids in attendance. This week, Aidan and Elliot went along with Matt and helped with the lessons and games, and they really enjoyed it!
Traveling to Utep’s village has also given Matt the opportunity to meet new people, especially Utep’s family. Before teaching each Thursday, Matt and Utep usually drink coffee with Utep’s brother and father, while sitting on the floor in front of a fire in their family’s kitchen. Pray for these two men. In the past, they took part in the persecution against Utep when he came to faith in the Lord, but now they seem very open. Matt has also met an ustad (Islamic teacher) from a neighboring village. He had many questions for Matt and Utep when they first met. This gave them the opportunity to not only answer questions about their faith, but also share with this man. He wants to begin meeting with Matt in order to learn conversational English. Pray that these would be fruitful times of sharing the gospel with this man.
Matt's Visit to Papua
Matt came back from a visit to Papua on January 12th. The trip, although brief, was very profitable. There are three evangelists with whom HeartCry partners in this Indonesian province (Yulianus, Jimi, and Perin), and Matt had yet to visit them in their native place. Yulianus is from the Fuau tribe, and Jimi and Perin are from the Dani tribe. Matt also visited Trevor Johnson and Paul Snider, both of whom are working with World Team among the Korowai tribe. Here is a brief summary of the trip in the words of Trevor Johnson:
Praise God that last week we preached or taught at three villages in the Mamberamo and three coastal locations to almost 1,000 people; passed out more than 2,000 tracts/booklets/Bibles (easily over 700 in outdoor evangelism and over 1,300 inside the church to build up believers); preached or taught eight times in seven days for about eighteen hours cumulative (mostly on distinguishing the new birth from a mere external religiosity); and yesterday, I had visitors finding my house to come and tell me that they were greatly moved.
Also, here is the brief update Matt sent out while he was still in Papua:
Today (Sunday [January 6th]), we worshiped at a church comprised mostly of people from the Fuau region (where we’re flying to tomorrow). Most of them have come out of the interior jungle for educational purposes. Some are studying in a local Bible college, and others are pursuing various other occupations. Yulianus helps them in different ways, including providing scholarships for those who show the most potential. His desire, though, is for them to return to the interior in order to be a blessing to their own people; so he made them promise to return before ever giving any sort of scholarship. One of the men there today, also supported by Yuli, is Bastian Guani. I met him in Jakarta in 2010 when he was studying at Kartidaya (SIL’s linguistic training). He and Yuli are in the process of translating fifteen key Bible stories into the Fuau language, after which they will begin translating the New Testament. They didn’t feel prepared enough to directly begin with the New Testament, so they decided to start with the stories in order to at least get something in the hands of their people, while also getting some good practice/training for the bigger project. You can read more about the Bible story project at www.theseedcompany.org (their language is technically called “Abawiri”).
I preached in the service in Bahasa, Indonesia. I felt like the Lord helped, and I’m beginning to feel much more comfortable preaching without any notes. Trevor also gave a couple different strong exhortations to the people. There’s such a great need here for people who call themselves Christians to be born again. They live like the world, many coming to church on Sunday mornings and then getting drunk a few hours later. HIV and prostitution are also big social problems, indicative of the spiritual darkness of those who profess the name of Christ but deny Him with their lives. So, much of our teaching and exhortation centered around the new birth and what it means to be genuinely saved. After eating lunch, we went to a local market to pass out Gospel tracts and share the good news with the people there. Together we were able to pass out perhaps 400-500 tracts, and I got the opportunity to share the gospel with dozens of Papuans, along with many Muslims. There is a much more open climate to do this sort of thing in Papua compared to where Amanda and I live in Java. Please pray that God would use the words spoken and the literature given in order to save many souls.
After leaving the coastal area (where the above update took place), we flew into the Mamberamo River Basin, visiting three different locations - Fuau, Taria, and Kasonewega. The first two are small villages with very little ethnic diversity. Sometimes Danis from the highlands or brown-skinned Indonesians come down to these lowland villages in search of sandalwood or other natural resources. All the people in both Fuau and Taria would claim to be Christian. But, similar to the paragraph above, there are very few who have genuinely experienced the new birth. Generally speaking, the two tribal groups have a Christian identity, but they understand very little about the gospel. It’s perhaps hard for many Westerners to understand, but just like there is a “cultural Christianity” in America, there is the same among these tribal peoples. They claim the name of Christ, but His reality has affected very little about their lives. They may not share all the same vices as the Papuans living near the coast (since they have less available and less opportunity), but they share the same spiritual problems. Please pray for these people. Pray that God would use Yulianus to continue to evangelize his own people. In the last two or three years, it seems there was an awakening among a small minority of the people. However, there are still so many who have no saving knowledge of Christ. Pray that God would prepare Yulianus and Bastian to translate the Bible into Abawiri. Pray that God would also prepare Yaber Faboisa and his team to translate the Bible into Diebroud (the langage spoken in Taria). Pray also as Yulianus recruits other translators for the eighteen other languages spoken in the Mamberamo.
Sharing the Good News
Over the last few months, there have been several opportunities to share the good news with people in our province in Java. Although we can’t be open here like Matt was able to be in Papua, the Lord continues to lead and open doors to speak truth into the lives of others. Last night, two young men who are university students came over to our house. Both are Muslims from the Sundanese ethnic group (the primary ethnic group in our province, which is consider the largest unreached people group in Indonesia. One of them is really seeking to know the truth and had a lot of good questions. The Lord gave us (along with our friend Vira) the opportunity to answer his questions while also sharing many other gospel truths. Please pray for these two young men. It really does seem like the Lord is at work, and we hope to meet with them again soon.
With much love,
Matt, Amanda, Aidan, Elliot, and Owen