After a full day of meetings and preparation at our embassy (office) in Jakarta, our small team departed for our 10:15pm flight that flew all through the night to Jayapura, the largest Indonesian city in Papua. Arriving at 7:00am, we met the local team and were on the road one hour later. It would be a long 10 hour journey on a dirt road that is certainly one less traveled. And being a new road to some very recently added regions of Indonesia, it was extremely rough.
Throughout the course of the day, we crossed more than 250 of the worst bridges I have ever seen in my life. Most were just large trees, felled across each chasm with planks laid crossways; quick and temporary, but adequate.
Papua contains what is perhaps the world’s most untouched jungle. Although our journey was only along the coastline, we could still appreciate its beauty, even seeing the occasional parrot circling overhead. The fascinating colors and rich resources of the land, however were soon overtaken by the fantastic people who live there.
With a local population of only 11,000, we knew that this would not be one of our larger Hope Festivals. But whether many or few, where there are people, the gospel must be preached. We are called to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth… and Sarmi qualifies. I was told that I was the first foreigner ever to preach there, and we gathered ripe harvest of souls.
More than 2500 curious people gathered on the football field the first night and the Lord began to work. Several hundred people received Christ that night and then healings began to flow. It was one of the most amazing starts I have witnessed to any gospel campaign. The second and third nights continued to gain interest with roughly 3500 attending each night. During the altar calls, I could hear people weeping as they repented of sin. Real repentance was taking place. It was very powerful.
The final night provided a most triumphant ending with more than 4500 present. This was apparently unusual and was told that this was by far the largest gathering the area has had in its entire history! Four hundred people responded to the gospel that final night. Altogether, over the four days, more than 1300 people completed a decision card; committing their lives to Jesus Christ.
We prayed for the sick every night and healings flowed like water. Jesus is so faithful! In the very first meeting a blind woman received her
sight. She stood on the platform beside me with tears in her eyes. Another woman whom I had seen standing near the front had come with a tumour on her neck. But Jesus touched her that night and she came forward to show that it was no longer there! Both sides of her neck were now completely normal. On other
nights, we witnessed more. One man had a swollen stomach and had been in the hospital 3 days before being released without a diagnosis. Doctors had no explanation for him, but Jesus healed him and his stomach returned to its normal state. Also, a woman who previously had two toes amputated because of diabetes was also not able to use her right leg for 3 years and was healed; completely able to move and walk on her leg.
One afternoon, a man asked us to come to his home to pray for his legs. It turns out that he previously could not walk but was healed the first night of the campaign. He felt so good the next morning that he decided to take his elderly wife, daughter, grandchild, etc. for a walk. Well, they must have walked more than 7 kilometers! Then 2 days later, his legs were so sore that he wanted prayer for healing again! We simply explained that he had exercised too vigorously and rest would be just as good as prayer this time 😉 But Jesus had healed him.
There were so many healings taking place every night that some local people were starting to suggest that we were using black magic to produce them. They had never witnessed anything like this before and it all seemed a bit suspicious to them. But we kept exalting the name of Jesus and all other notions were laid to rest. The healings just seemed to increase as the people trusted Jesus.
More blind eyes seeing. The lame were walking. A man paralysed 3 years after a stroke was walking and moving about. Some people who suffered from gout (one man for 9 years) were able to walk freely without pain. A child whose left side was paralysed through witchcraft was carried forward by his joyful mother. He moved! And one incredible man was unable to move his right leg, could not see and was also deaf in one ear. …and Jesus made him whole. I think he was the happiest of them all.
Morning “Fire Festival”
Although there were not many local pastors and church workers in this area, the Fire Festival meetings were well attended. I ministered over three days with our Festival Director, Rev. Yoshua Chendana also taking one session.
The sessions focused on faith, evangelism and the Holy Spirit. Attendees were attentive. I could see that they were dedicated to being effective in reaching the people in Sarmi and the surrounding regions. And on the third day, we prayed and many received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They spoke in new tongues as the Spirit gave and ministered to each one.
Final Count and Response
With more than 1300 completed decision cards, half of the town attending and seeing the crowd stretch across the football field each night, I knew Jesus had done something significant. Shortly after arriving back in Jayapura, one Sarmi pastor sent me a message as follows: “Thanks for all. This campaign has had a very good impact on Sarmi and the team, especially me. I hope that you come again.”
I thank god for all of our ministry partners who make all of these campaigns possible. Together, we are seeing Jesus making a difference.
Together in His Service,