Church Planter - Korowai People, Indonesia
Jimi labors alongside two American families among the Northern Korowai people in Papua Indonesia's Asmat region. He is originally from Papua's highlands but has now been serving the Lord in the lowland swamps for several years to reach this remote tribe with the gospel. Jimi is married to Perin.
Testimony of Conversion
“I am deeply aware that my salvation is only by the kind hand of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who is full of transgressions and sins, yet by the mercy of God, a God of love and grace, I am saved and was bought at such a high price – by the very blood of Jesus Christ himself, who died and was crucified for me. I am grateful to know from the Word of God that my salvation was not gained from my efforts, but only because of His love directed towards me. Long before I was formed, God prepared the way for my salvation, and my escape from sin: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16), and this is why my heart has been captured by love, to serve God for life.” — Jimi Weyato’s testimony, 2010.
Jimi is 32 years old, the son of Yanom and Nare Wonda, from the Tolikara region west of the inland Papuan city of Wamena. He is from the Western Dani tribe and is the sixth of eight siblings. He is the son of a faithful pastor, who recently died. After hearing the news of his father’s death, Jimi chose to stay and minister in the interior. He said, “I know where my father is, and I have living souls to care for here. My father would want me to stay here to bless the Korowai. So I will stay.”
When asked about his occupation, Jimi states, “Servant of God.” Before Jimi left all to serve God in a tough place, he had a highly coveted job at the Freeport Mine in Timika. However, in spite of a good job and good pay, Jimi did not feel satisfied. When he was younger, he had made a vow to serve God all the days of his life, and his heart remained restless until he obeyed.
Several years before, Jimi had sought his fortune searching for precious sandalwood in the southern swamps among the Asmat peoples. Trekking through steep terrain, he had gotten lost in miles of lowland marsh when it began to rain and rain. That first night, with the light fading and the water rising, Jimi slept on a fallen tree trunk, but when the water rose to his waist and threatened to carry him away, he climbed up a coconut tree and hung there until morning. The next day he tried to trek back the way he had come, but he became more confused and lost. The increased water levels changed the appearance of the landscape beyond recognition and a second miserable night in the swamp followed. A nearby village had sent out search parties but had all turned back. On the third day, he emerged like a ghost, dehydrated and barely strong enough to walk. The locals had already given him up for dead.
Hanging in the coconut tree that night, Jimi had recommitted his life to God and swore to serve Him if he should live through the experience. However, once back to safety and faced with an attractive job opportunity, Jimi started work at the Timika mine. His heart was never at peace, and at last, he left all to serve God among the Northern Korowai people.
A Wife for Jimi
Last October, in a remote Danowage village, Jimi celebrated his plain but joyous wedding with a faithful sister in Christ and co-worker, Perin. Jimi had prayed for a wife for several years but refused to forsake his evangelistic calling. By faith, he often said, “If it is God’s will that I will be married, He will provide a wife for me even here in the remotest jungle.” It seemed like an impossibility, but we serve a God who delights to do the impossible.
Perin and Jimi often sit and pray at the bedside of the tribal sick. However, usually, all the local people do not appreciate their help. When Konderius (our language helper) lay dying, the local tribal people desired to work their traditional medicine and magic on the patient. Not only Perin and Jimi, but also Konderius refused the magic and continued to pray to God alone. Finally, several armed men dragged Perin and Jimi outside at arrow-point, threatening to shoot them unless they gave in and accepted the traditional medicine. When it was understandable that their threats would not deter the pair from praying at the bedside of their friend, several locals blocked the door to prevent re-entry. Later in the night, Konderius, recovering a small degree of strength, crawled out of that house and sent word for Jimi and Perin so that they might be present at his death. Together, Jimi and Perin were able to pray and recite Scripture with Konderius until he died. Prior to his death, Konderius called his friends together and pled with them, asking them to believe just as he believed, so that later, they would join him in heaven. This occasion is not the only time in which Jimi and Perin have suffered threats of physical violence.
Yamis and the Children
Yamis Ta-il, a five-year-old orphan from Ujung Batu is now being cared for by Jimi and Perin. The Ujung Batu people thought that the little boy was a witch. Two children died within two weeks, probably due to malaria, and one of them (a 6-year old) had explained to the village how he had seen Yamis in a dream shortly before he died. This was proof enough for the majority of the villagers and even Yamis’s brother to motivate the village to disown him. The people discussed how best to get rid of Yamis. Should they drown him or should they carry him downriver and leave him in another village? They could not decide, and so Yamis was tied up and barely fed for two weeks. Finally, Ainus, an evangelist, learned of this and retrieved Yamis. He delivered him to the Danowage village for Jimi and Perin to care for him. Jimi stated, “We are still praying for the Lord to give us children, but for now, the Lord has given us these children, and we will take care of them as best we can.” In addition to Yamis, several other orphans spend most of their time in the home of Jimi and Perin.
The Pig Attack
Last spring in the village, a local captured a wild pig and brought it into the middle of the village. He thoughtlessly tied it with a delicate vine, which soon snapped under the animal’s weight. Many children were milling about in the village at this time. Seeing the danger, Jimi selflessly placed himself between the pig and the threatened children. Jimi was pinned between the pig and dense brush, helpless and unable to free himself. The pig gored and bit him in several places. Jimi desperately prayed for God to scare the pig off. Suddenly, as soon as the prayer was spoken, the pig turned and bolted into the jungle.
The tribe began to mourn Jimi’s death even while he was alive due to the severity of his wounds. The evangelist Endinus learned of the attack and traveled downriver to view the body. Jimi was pale, his wounds were infected, and his toe was dangling loosely. He was alive but was unable to stand, even when a medivac was arranged and carried him to the coast for further treatment and surgery. Two months later, Jimi returned to the village in order to continuing teaching the children. One month more afterward he limped into the river to baptize a tribal youth named Musa. Musa was mostly the fruit of Jimi’s ministry.