God’s Sovereign Timing
It wasn’t me. It wasn’t my partner either. It was all of God! Little did we know about what was to transpire in the work of the Gospel among the Korowai. What I am about to share with you is in every respect the work of the Holy Spirit in one of the most remote places on earth.
My family just hiked a kilometer in the mud from where the float plane landed. We were back in the village. That day was full of people visiting from other villages to see the new missionaries that had just flown back. It was as if aliens had landed, and we were the aliens. The paths in the village were bustling; the jungle air was filled with the smell of cut lumber and smoke from cooking fires, echos of children whooping and hollering in excitement, as well as village pigs running for cover. It was becoming cooler and the Korowai were gathering around our houses for the evening entertainment. We usually have Bible lessons, check on the sick, and play soccer or football. For many Korowai, they just come to see the “hot spot” in the village. Everything in my soul was excited to be back, but in the back of my mind I thought it would be a work that would show its absence of spiritual fruit for months, maybe even years to come. I thought as David Brainerd thought when he began work among the North American Indians:
“It is remarkable that God began this work among the Indians at a time when I had the least hope, and to my apprehension the least rational prospect of success.”David Brainerd
Out of Nowhere
One evening during that first week back in the village, I was standing in the front yard talking to several Dani evangelists when I noticed two young Korowai men coming up the path towards me. I knew one of them, Salomo. We had met four years earlier when I was surveying the lowland swamps, but I had not seen him since. With Salomo was Barnabas, who came with him from Waina, a village to the south.
Salamo did not waste any time. He had an agenda and it was important! As soon as we met, he said with a smile, “We have come to learn God’s Word. We have been waiting for you and Trevor to return.” Did he just say that? Did he just say what I would have never thought any Korowai would ever say? Yes, he did! I would not have taken ten million dollars for that statement. If that doesn’t show us the sovereign hand of God working in all things for the glory of His name among His people, then nothing will. Praise our great God!
As a missionary, these are words that bring tears of joy that explode in praise to God for His grace and mercy in a place forgotten by the outside world. Then, as if that was not enough, Salomo continued to say, “I want to become an evangelist and take God’s word to the other villages and tree houses.” Wait, am I in the right village? Is this the Korowai? Is this really happening? What in the world could have caused such a glorious statement like that to come out of Salomo’s mouth? Obviously, we know that this is completely the work of the Holy Spirit. This is our Sovereign King making himself gloriously seen as the Savior and Lord of peoples in remote lands. This is the same Spirit that not only saved us, but also indwells us, and is now indwelling Salomo. Praise His name! My response to Salomo was, “Let’s get started!”
Our teaching began that week, but that’s not the whole story. What would form into daily Bible teaching with Salomo and Barnabas sprouted quickly into five other Korowai guys faithfully coming. Was that the result of Trevor and me? No, that was the design and work of the Father to see Salomo and these other Korowai men, whom He had chosen before the foundation of the world to learn the truths of the Bible so they could in turn partake of the ministry of reconciliation among their own people.
“All of this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”2 Corinthians 5:18
The little, rundown Danowage church building would now host the first fruits of God’s mighty work in this region. These seven young Korowai men, in a region that is very oppressed by the works of Satan, would now be the light of Christ to a people that fear only evil spirits and death-eating witches. Salomo and his friends will sit for hours, sometimes going without meals to be taught the Word of God. The next day, Salomo and several others would tell us, “We went to ten village homes and three tree houses (those are deep in the jungle) and told them the stories you taught us.
“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”2 Timothy 2:2
Every Sunday, Salomo and the other disciples will trek to different villages, two-by-two, and preach the Bible story they learned that week. Salomo, on one occasion, entered Mabuwage, a village two hours away on foot to hold a service. As he entered the village, the community began to scold him as they were running off into the jungle, telling him, “The Gospel can’t feed me. Go away.”
What did Salomo do? He came back rejoicing, telling us what happened and that he would return next week and try again. Like David running bravely to face Goliath with weapons in hand, Salomo continues to boldly enter the battle without retreat. He is the real deal!
Pray for Salomo, Barnabas, Yon, Simson, Wayhu, Saulus, and Yadison. Pray that they will grow in their faith and reach their own people with the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ. The true light shatters the darkness. Just as Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, so we are to “go and teach all things,” thereby breaking down Satan’s strongholds. This is the desire of Salomo and these young men who the Lord has raised up in the Korowai Tribe.
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”1 John 3:8b