To the Ends of the Earth

By Bruce & Anne McDowell

December 20, 2017

 

Papua, Indonesia, is half of a very large island to the north of Australia. It is very remote, even for the Indonesians, as it is about a six hour flight from the capitol city of Jakarta. The people are distinctly different from the rest of Indonesia racially, ethnically, culturally, and religiously. Since the 1960s when there was revival among the Stone Age tribes, many became Christian out of animism, although animism is still very prevalent. There has also been a large influx of migrants from other parts of Indonesia, as the government has encouraged this migration to Islamize and develop the island.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world. It is in this context that Wycliffe missionaries started TITIP, an institute for high school graduates to have a year of both academic coursework and spiritual discipleship to prepare them for university studies and to prepare them to become leaders among their churches and society. As a residential program, they learn English, math, critical thinking, Bible, devotional life, and practical hands-on skills, from making musical instruments to setting up solar panel systems.

Anne taught English and discipled women at this institute for four years when she was with Wycliffe. She returned to train national English teachers about 1 ½ years ago and we both returned there in October of this year to teach. Anne trained the 15 English teachers and taught English to the 22 students for three weeks. She guided the teachers through several chapters of a textbook used for Master’s level students and each student teacher completed a syllabus, lesson plan and task for their course by the end of the 3 weeks. She also led the 22 ESL students through their first novel in English—a first for everyone in the class, as no one had ever completed an entire novel in English before and most had never read an entire novel in any language before. Anne also had the joy of reunion with the women’s prayer group she had started in 2010 that has continued to meet. Moreover, both Anne and I had the pleasure of meeting up with some of her previous students who have come to study at colleges in the USA over the past six years.

Upon arriving, I (Bruce) preached (with translation) at a local church where I had preached five years ago. For the following week I taught the TITIP students through Colossians, without the need for translation. I taught the teachers the five Solas of the Reformation and some material from my book Faith in the Mosaic. The teaching was new material for all of them, so it was fun to interact with their questions. One afternoon I spoke on evangelism and responding to Islam, to which there were many questions. Now some Papuans have converted to Islam. Many of the students come from villages where practice of witchcraft is prevalent, intertribal and domestic violence is common, and their fathers have multiple wives. One of my students who teaches English grew up as a “peace child,” raised by a family from another tribe as the means to bring peace between the tribes.

The institute truly has a great impact for the successful future of its graduates towards their career, Christian life, and providing leaders for the evangelical community. Thank you for your prayers, as we saw God at work in bringing spiritual blessing, health and safety.