Help for Indonesia's Moi People

Help for Indonesia’s Moi People

The Moi are an isolated people. The first missionaries began living among them only in the year 2000. Mission Aviation Fellowship’s flights make it possible.

by Staff, Mission Aviation Fellowship

One of the most challenging landing strips for MAF pilots in the Indonesian province of Papua provides access to the outside world for missionaries who live among a secluded forest people known as the Moi. Located on the Island of New Guinea, 500 km southwest of MAF’s flight base at Sentani, the short 380-metre airstrip at Daboto experiences bad cross winds and has a steep average slope of six percent, but New Tribes missionaries are grateful for the important link it provides.

“It means so much to us to have such a good support team keeping the plane maintained and flown safely in such extreme conditions,” says Rich Brown, who lives in the Moi community with his wife Karen and their three daughters.

Daboto airstrip was officially opened for service in 2008 by Canadian pilot Clarence Togeretz, based with MAF at Sentani.

As chief pilot* for MAF’s Papua program, Clarence has instructed several pilots at Daboto to prepare them for the challenges of putting a Cessna 206 safely onto the small sloped strip, which is located only 35 minutes east of Nabire, another MAF flight base.

Back in 2003, he had an opportunity to swing a pick axe and push a wheelbarrow for a few days to help out with the airstrip construction.

“The Moi are very isolated, so any supplies that the missionaries need, come in by aircraft,” Clarence shares. “The local people have learned to harvest a sweet-smelling tree bark and sell it in the city for a profit, which allows them to buy items like salt, rice and noodles. These things, too, are flown by MAF.”

The Moi captured the western world’s attention back in 1991 when logging operations moved into their region and new licensing laws began restricting their access to the forests. Because traditional ways of providing for their families were under threat, the Moi needed the kind of help only a loving God and his servants could provide.

At that time, isolated Moi communities were using only stone axes for tools; they did not have knives, cooking pots or clothing.

The first missionary families began living with a Moi grouping at Daboto in 2000, and for the next six years, learned their language and built relationships — even suffering through cerebral malaria among them — before the first Moi came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Today, as a result of the “God talks” and ongoing literacy work by the Browns and their co-workers Stephen and Carolyn Crockett, about 100 Moi are believers and half of them are already learning how to teach others.

Clarence continues: ``The Moi grasped what was being told them about the Great Creator and the fall of man into sin. How glorious for them to hear the message of salvation that comes only through Jesus — and what a beautiful time to live in Daboto and see this living, growing, excited faith!”

MAF also assists this exciting outreach in another way: through the provision of MAF school teachers, such as Canadian Darren Berg who serves at the Hillcrest International School (HIS) in Sentani, where the children of New Tribes missionaries go to school.

“Our daughter enjoys math and is privileged to have Darren as her high school math teacher this year,” writes Carolyn Crockett.

The Crocketts used to homeschool their daughters, but as the girls got older, it was better for them to be at school in Sentani. “All of their Moi girlfriends married at around eight or nine years old, so they had no friends to play with after that. Men started looking at them as potential wives, making them feel quite awkward,”

Carolyn explains. “We are so grateful for HIS and the teachers who willingly give of their time to teach our daughters. In many ways, the teachers and staff are parents to our daughters as well, so we can continue on living among the Moi.”

*Clarence Togeretz and his wife Jeanette, originally of Burlington, Ontario, have served with MAF for 15 years in Indonesia. When they return to Canada, fellow Canadian Tim Smith will become chief pilot for MAF’s Papua program, overseeing other pilots plus 14 aircraft: nine Cessna 206s, four Caravans, and the new Quest Kodiak 100.

Mission Aviation Fellowship of Canada, 264 Woodlawn Road West, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 1B6. With 136 aircraft operating in 38 nations, MAF's 920 staff members provide flight and communications support for the world's neediest areas. E-mail: info@mafc.org; Website: http://www.christianity.ca/NetCommunity/page.redir?target=http%3a%2f%2fwww.mafc.org&srcid=5212&erid=0.

Originally published in Mission Aviation Fellowship’s Life Link, December 2007/February 2008.