2016 West Papua – Sarah Suh

Met By Love

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:25-26

I had the privilege to begin the new year by serving the Lord. From January 12th to January 21st, New Philly sent our team of 12 to West Papua, Indonesia. Half of the team came from our Seoul church campuses and the other half came from our Sydney campus in Australia. The team served our hearts out: worshipping, preaching, teaching, praying, and ministering everywhere we were sent. We traveled to various churches all over West Papua, attended several dawn prayer meetings with local pastors, had opportunities to speak to the youth, and led a 3-day training camp. God’s love was relentless as He moved during every single moment of the trip in the hearts of those we ministered to and also in this heart of mine.

The journey of what God did in my heart began even before we got on the plane. On December 30th, the Seoul team members gathered for one of our pre-departure meetings to pray together. We meditated on “The Way of Love” in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and for some reason, every single verse was hitting me hard, and especially verse 2:
“And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
I made a commitment in my heart that night to do all things compelled by love.

Love followed our team everywhere we went on this trip. From the moment our Seoul and Sydney members met at the airport to the moment we said our goodbyes, we flowed in an undeniable love and unity. I believe this carried over into the relationships we made in West Papua. There was a supernatural grace that kept the team moving in God’s heart throughout the week. We had a very full schedule. Therefore to pinpoint one exact moment that stood out to me is overwhelmingly difficult. But I think moreso than one specific moment, it was the local people and what they represented that blessed me the most.

Pastor Tandi, who was our primary Native Partners for World Mission (or NPWM) contact and local minister, is truly a man after God’s own heart. He is well respected amongst the pastors in West Papua and I can totally see why. He pastors Makarismos Church, and also oversees the Love Papua Center, a training center for local ministers and believers. They hold training camps every week to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. The fruit of what is being released is undeniable. You can see it in the way these pastors offer themselves as living sacrifices daily to serve God. You can see it in the way West Papuan Christians worship. You can see it in the way they pray. You can see it in the way they hunger for more of God. As we connected with Pastor Tandi and his family, and as we watched him guide our team throughout the week, I was blown away by just how devoted one man could be to the heart of the Father. There were many times our team was exhausted, but when we saw the way Pastor Tandi gave his all each and every day, we were humbled and inspired again and again. Pastor Tandi challenges me to walk in even more of God’s grace for my own ministry, and leaves me feeling so much hope for the churches in West Papua.

Papi Stefanus, once a successful businessman from another part of Indonesia, lives a life of pure obedience. He felt the call of God to give up his successful business and move to West Papua with his family. He recently began working for the Love Papua Center with Pastor Tandi. On paper, Papi Stefanus was one of our drivers and acted as our team’s hospitality along with his wife, Mami Lily and his daughter Karen. But really, he is an anointed minister. He was a man of few words during our trip, mostly because of the language barrier. But Papi Stefanus carries the Father’s heart, and his actions speak so much louder than any words. He ministered out of a place of compassion, he went out of his way to make sure our team was comfortable, and his interactions with his family were marked with great love. As Papi Stefanus left behind wealth and status to obey God’s calling, the Lord is using him to be a walking ministry to the Papuan people. Papi Stefanus’ life challenges me to walk in even greater levels of faith, and also leaves me hopeful for more pastors of radical obedience to rise up in West Papua.

Reinhart is a man who is being marked by the Lord to be a powerful son for the Kingdom. I had heard about him before we even left for West Papua, and was someone I was personally eager to meet. He had been highlighted to Pastor David Ahn on the previous year’s New Philly missions trip to West Papua, when Reinhart received the word that God was raising him up as a pillar for the youth. This year, we knew that the local multi-church youth ministry, Youth for Christ, was praying into a raising up a male leader. Mona, who is Pastor Tandi’s daughter, had been providing leadership for this group, but she greatly needed leadership support. Reinhart was highlighted once again to our team this time around and there’s no doubt in my mind that God is preparing him to do great works for the Kingdom. Reinhart expressed that our team really inspired him, specifically the night we led a revival service for the youth. He leaves me feeling hope for the youth of West Papua and with an assurance that God is training up lay leaders in the church to take their place to be Christ’s hands and feet.

Looking back, I realize that above all else, the genuine love that Pastor Tandi, Papi Stefanus, and Reinhart operated from is what made the most lasting impact on me. Their love was not a fake love, and neither was it a weak love. It was a love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). They are compelled by the love of God in all that they do. The daily sacrifices, the daily decisions, whether big or small, is all done out of their love for the Father and it changed me.

Although God did a lot of great things while we were on the field, there’s still so much to be done in the place of prayer now that we are back. I want to ask you to continue to pray for me, my team and West Papua in the following ways:

  1. Please pray that we will all transition back into our daily lives well. As much as we’d love to dwell on the feelings of the missions high, we do have to step back into the real world and work. But in the midst of adjusting, pray that we will all be able to process, journal and share about what we’ve experienced in a healthy manner.
  2. Please pray for the youth. They had powerful encounters with God and so many good teachings went out to them. But what they need most for long-lasting fruit is discipleship. Pray that there would be a strong discipleship structure established and that God would raise up leaders to shepherd the youth.
  3. Please pray for the families we connected with at the Love Papua Center. They are the ones who need to continue to sow in daily. Ministry isn’t a one week missions trip for them, but what we saw in that one week is their everyday life. Declare strength over them and fresh zeal to continue serving the Lord as they equip and build up God’s army in West Papua.

When I returned from West Papua, I was asked, “So, how was it?” And my humble answer to that question was: even though I didn’t get much sleep, I preached and taught for the first time on the field, had a jam packed schedule every day, I feel so refreshed. My body is tired, but my spirit is alive and I feel great for the first time in a long time.

Three years ago, I was swept off my feet and fell in love with a Savior. I committed to a church for the first time, served in a college ministry, went on my first missions trip, and I made an epic commitment to build up this house (New Philly). I did a lot of things out of love three years ago and for the first time since then, I feel like I can finally do things out of genuine love once again. I went to serve, but was met by Love. If this is what it’s like to serve God from a place of love, I can do it forever. Terima kasih, West Papua. I’ve rediscovered my first Love.