Feature

The Chief of the Skies

The gospel reaches the Wolani of Ear Valley and beyond

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Wazoga took a war stance on a mountainside near his home in Mbaindotadi on the island of New Guinea. With an arrow fixed to his bow, the chief was ready to shoot down our helicopter as we made our first aerial survey beyond Ear Valley in 1995.

Soon Alliance missionaries and members of the national C&MA church started work on the Tomosiga airstrip, which was to be the doorway to the Wolani people of Ear Valley and beyond. Tomosiga is a week’s walk over rugged mountainous trails from my mission home in Hitadipa, and Wazoga’s village is a four-day walk beyond that. It is difficult to find evangelists who will stay long enough not only to bring people into the Kingdom but also to disciple them. And with the spirit-worshiping Wolani of Ear Valley, it would certainly take a long time.

Prophecy Fulfilled

The first ground survey of the Ear Valley region took place in 1989. At first, the survey team members were not even given permission to sleep in the villagers’ huts. Later, when they were allowed inside the homes, they were forbidden to speak the name of “the Chief of the Skies” (as the Wolani call God) or to read from His “map” (the Bible).

But they did anyway, even though the Wolani chiefs talked loudly, coughed and smoked all night across the room to distract from the message. As the evangelists left the village of Wolambutu one morning, Niko, now an Alliance provincial president, said to Chief Bidu, “You will lead your people to Jesus, and your son will become an elder in the church.”

One year later 60-year-old Ototome, one of the first Moni converts, led a team of five Moni evangelists back to Ear Valley. He said, “If the younger men won’t go, send me. I want to wear out for Jesus.”

When this team entered Wolambutu, Chief Bidu hung the evangelists’ nets in his house, saying, “You will live with me. I will feed you. I will help you build your gardens and homes. And I will call my people to listen to the words of your Chief.” Bidu, the first Ear Valley believer, took the Christian name Kornelius. Because of his stand for Jesus, God blessed Kornelius with plenty of food to eat and to share.

A Tragic Choice

Chiefs of other villages said to the evangelists, “With your heavenly talk, bring fishhooks, rope to catch wild pigs, axes, machetes, medicine and clothes. Then we will listen.” But Chief Wazoga’s older brother Bondi, the head chief of Mbaindotadi, did all he could to prevent his people from listening to the gospel.

By this time, evangelist Naman was living alone in the Nabundoga Valley, a day’s walk from Mbaindotadi. From time to time he hunted with Chief Bondi and Chief Wazoga, but he was always rebuffed when he tried to talk with them of Jesus. In 2002, evangelist Yunus and his family moved to Mbaindotadi, near Chiefs Bondi, Wazoga and their friends. Yunus and his family regularly encountered the evil powers holding sway over Ear Valley. Sickness and death were always a stone’s throw away, but God gave protection and healing. Opportunities to share God’s Word using Bible pictures became more frequent—except with the chiefs.

One Sunday Yunus invited Chief Bondi to listen to the Bible lesson. The chief replied, “I have given you my wives, my children and my people. What more do you want? As for me, I will NOT leave my spirits to believe in your Chief.”

That night Bondi died from a snake bite. Wazoga and the other chiefs were startled. If their spirits could not protect their most loyal chief, then who was the strongest Chief, worthy to be followed after all? They began to listen to the evangelists and allowed Yunus and his wife to give them medicine and pray for their sicknesses. But the chiefs still appeased the spirits.

The mission team visited Tomosiga several months later. Chief Wazoga walked from Mbaindotadi to see us and entered a church building for the first time. He fell sick afterward and asked the evangelists to come to him. They prayed for his healing and for the evil spirits to leave him, and both happened instantly. As a result, Wazoga acknowledged that it was the power of the Chief of the Skies that had done this, but he didn’t understand enough to give his heart to the Lord.

Dreams of Hope

For two long years, we assigned evangelists to Ear Valley, but no one stayed. Ototome and I finally decided that we needed to make regular visits to Mbaindotadi to help drive back the darkness by our presence and prayers. We wanted to encourage the evangelists to stay to minister and the Ear Valley Wolani people to gather so they could be taught.

We asked the evangelists to make a helipad there, and at the same time we renewed work on the key airstrip in Tomosiga. Shortterm teams from Canada came to work on the airstrip and hold evangelism events for the surrounding villages. Chief Wazoga and a large group of his friends hiked over the narrow mountain trails to hear the gospel presented clearly and see the JESUS film.

Some time ago, Wazoga said, “Three things must happen if the Ear Valley Wolani are to turn from following their spirits to follow the Chief of the Skies. First, the teachers must come with their wives, children, nets, pots and pigs, and then we will know they have come to stay. Second, a place of worship for this Chief must be built. And third, the teachers must learn to feed sweet potatoes to wild pigs [that is, they must learn how to teach God’s Word to Wolanis]. When these things happen we will take seriously the good news from your Chief of the Skies.”

Just as Niko prophesied, Kornelius’s son, Zusak, is now an elder in the national Alliance church. In January 2006, Zusak became the first pastor in Mbaindotadi. A simple place of worship was built in September 2006 by Rev. Joshua, who overseas the Wolani outreach from Tomosiga.

The Chief of the Skies has been giving Wazoga dreams about His Son. Wazoga now listens regularly to talk of Jesus during the day but still spends time with the spirits at night. When we visited in September, he was away at a ceremony to the spirits. His son Andon and Luten, another chief ’s son, are already “thinking true thoughts” about Jesus, and we are sure Wazoga is soon to follow. Please join us in asking the most powerful Chief to soon bring Wazoga to the end of his long trail of faith and into the family of God.

Past Alliance Life Issues

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