2016 West Papua – Grace Cho

The Greatest of These is Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

On Wednesday morning, 13th January, our team of 12 led by Pastor Jazzmin as team leader and Pastor Paul as team preacher arrived at Manokwari, West Papua. As a local staff member of Love Papua Centre drove us to the house of Pastor Tandi, a Native Partners for World Mission local missionary, I looked out the car window and took in the scenery. Colourful but rundown houses, set amongst lush greenery against a background of blue sky with rolling silvered clouds, threatening to turn the blue into grey. As we drove past the local people going about their daily lives, I sensed strongly that God has a plan for this island, which is around 50% Christian and 50% Muslim. He loves them and has a plan to bring full spiritual freedom to the people. I sensed that this mission season came at a very strategic time for West Papua and that God had much to pour out through us, because of His deep love for the people of West Papua.

After sharing with me His heart for the island, God showed me His heart of love for individuals as we ministered through a packed schedule.

On Saturday afternoon, our team leader called a powerful prayer meeting, like none I’ve ever participated in before. At this prayer meeting, we passionately contended for the participants of the youth revival meeting that night at Makarismos, the church that Pastor Tandi pastored. I believe it was that prayer meeting that empowered us to pray with authority and anointing to release the fire of the Holy Spirit upon the youth at the altar call, a time where people come up to the front in response to the message that was preached. As the youth started to come up to the altar, I cried out to God like a child to her father. I asked Him for the Holy Spirit to fill the youth in a way that was physically tangible and through such up-close-and-personal encounters with Him, impart fresh revelations of His love to the youth. As we prayed for each young person at the altar, God unequivocally answered my prayers. One particular girl I prayed for stands out in my memory. Her father had recently left the family and she was left with her mum. But I sensed that being fatherless was not God’s reality for her. God wanted her to know without a doubt that He was her Father and she was His precious daughter. I rejoiced as she agreed with me aloud as I prayed this over her and I knew the Holy Spirit was convicting her of the truth.

On another night, we ministered at a cross-church revival service in the city. At the altar ministry, one of our pastors had a word of knowledge to pray for people with knee problems. A man right at the back of the room stood up to receive prayer for his left knee. I walked over to him, fearful because I was not sure of what would happen – I had never healed anyone through prayer before. But I decided to exercise my faith and walk in obedience to lay hands and pray for the sick anyway. After I did so, Pastor Paul asked what percentage he had been healed and he confirmed he was healed about 50%. We prayed a second time, and this time another team member prayed with me. After the second time, the man started energetically hopping on his left knee to show how much it had been healed!

Through the altar ministry on the trip I experienced how dynamic and real-time partnering with God, hand in hand, can be. I think the experience of this will continue to impact any ministry that God calls me to in future.

Another key aspect of this trip that stands out to me is how God revealed His heart for the people of West Papua through our partnering with Pastor Tandi, his family, and the Love Papua Centre staff in their ministries. I was particularly moved by Pastor Tandi’s tireless ministry to the inland tribal people and his daughter Mona’s loving ministry to the children in the tribal communities. Through the ministry, the Joshua Generation, Mona teaches the children to read and write so that they can read the Bible. Her and a team of volunteers also love the children practically by tending to their personal hygiene needs that their parents neglect. In turn, we encouraged and empowered the local pastors as we ministered with them at their various weekly church meetings. One such meeting was in the mountains at one of the tribal villages. We drove two hours to the mountains to visit the tribal community. After the sermon, at every altar call the entire group of people would come up for prayer. I sensed so much hunger for God and for truth. During the last few days of our trip, there was a training camp at the Love Papua Centre where many inland tribal pastors and leaders came for teaching. I sensed the same hunger for God as almost every person came up to the altar for prayer at the end of each session. During these times I felt God revealing His heart for the inland tribal communities to be discipled in deeper teaching of the Word and to grow in spiritual maturity.

After the missions trip, the personal revelation that I received is that as believers, God desires us to all mature and become more like Jesus. As powerful as demonstrations of the Holy Spirit through signs and wonders may be, we must not neglect to steward the work in our hearts from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to produce fruit, the most important of which is love. Not only to look for signs and wonders, but to pray for the transforming of our hearts to greater maturity. Please pray for West Papua, that the local pastors and leaders are encouraged and empowered to faithfully teach the Bible and exhort the believers to greater maturity. Pray that they would be equipped with deeper biblical knowledge and teaching. Pray that language barriers would be broken to enable accelerated discipling of the inland pastors and believers. Also pray for more long-term missionaries to be planted in West Papua to bring discipleship to the believers who are hungry for more. Pray for the amending of the laws of the island to be based on Christian principles to swiftly succeed against all opposition. Pray that the youth of West Papua would truly rise up as the Joshua Generation, bringing His people into God’s promised land where there is freedom and peace.

On this missions trip God was faithful to let me see everything that I’d been praying and fasting to see in the weeks leading up. I saw my own prayers bring about physical healing, inner healing, and people falling as they experienced His glory. But God exceeded my expectations by sharing with me His heart, and His love for the people. I learned through this trip that God is an awesome and living God who still confirms the preaching of the Gospel with accompanying signs and wonders (Mark 16:20) and He uses us as His willing vessels to do this. Soberingly, all prophetic powers, knowledge, not even all faith to move mountains make us become anything – only love. God commands us to actively and faithfully love and accept all individuals, including those who are on the outside, ostracized, unpopular, or simply different, just as Jesus did. I thank and praise God for the local pastors and staff at Manokwari who are continually obeying His command daily to love all the people that they minister to in West Papua. May I grow in doing the same in my own community in Australia.