Island Tribes Building the Church [May Prayer Focus]

A TEAM missionary hugs her Papuan friend.
60 years ago, the Hatam Tribe didn't have the Gospel — but now they do! And they're working hard to continue establishing the church in Papua.

A lot can happen in 60 years. And no one knows this better than the Hatam tribe of Papua, Indonesia.

See, just 60 years ago, people in this tribe were all afraid of each other. Violent murders were a normal part of life. But now, thanks to the work of TEAM missionaries, the Hatam have come to know Christ!

They no longer fear one another or live in violence. They go to church and learn about the Bible. They are learning to love one another like Jesus loves them.

But turning from a society reliant on violence to a society reliant on Christ isn’t an overnight process. Now, Hatam believers are figuring out how to take on more responsibility as a church and even send their own missionaries to unreached tribes.

The church’s young age poses additional challenges.

When problems within the church arise, there’s no local church history to point to and say, “This is how we’ve handled this issue in the past.” It’s easier for false teachings to take root.  And as younger generations grow up in Christian families, they’re apt to forget how much God saved them from — making them more likely to give up Christ.

This month, join us in praying for the Hatam tribe and other newly reached and unreached tribes in Papua. Pray with us that the Papuan Church will keep growing and spreading Christ’s name throughout the nation.

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1. Pray that tribal churches will be able to bring the Gospel to surrounding tribes.

A number of tribes like the Hatam have the Gospel now, but many tribes still don’t know the Good News. That’s why Christian tribes have started their own missions board. They’re sending their own missionaries so that all of  Papua will get to hear about Jesus. 

But it’s not always easy to get to where unreached tribes are. Although not necessarily far apart in distance, the geography of the region can make reaching other tribes difficult and sometimes nearly impossible. 

“Many of God’s servants are serving, but the places are far away and they have to walk. If it rains, we cannot cross the river, because there are no bridges, then there is no transportation, all of this hinders the services,” says Niko Wonggor, a Christian leader in the Arfak mountains of Papua. 

Pray that God will give people insight into how to overcome these physical challenges. Pray that leaders will have wisdom in deciding what tribes to go to and how to get there.

A missionary stands with a map of the tribes surrounding the Hatam tribe

TEAM missionary Ryan Kennedy and local missionaries travel throughout northern Papua, spreading the Gospel. They mark a map with each tribe they’ve visited with the Jesus Film.

2. Pray that the Hatam Church will be able to raise funds for new ministry needs.

The Hatam mission board is working to become independent of outside support, and a huge part of that means coming up with their own funds.

The mission board gives offering sacks to local churches to collect an offering for the mission board every month. The churches are excited to help support the mission board, and there are now over 250 offering sacks in over 200 churches in Indonesia.

One woman planted her garden and told God that if He blessed her garden, she would give a percentage of the profits to the mission board. At the end of the season, the vegetables were larger than what she’d ever grown in her life. She rejoiced that she could give that much more to the mission board.

Ask God to show leaders new wise ways to raise funds. Pray that the Papuan people will be generous and give with joyful hearts.

3. Pray for leadership training future leaders

The Hatam tribe are first-generation Christians, and they don’t plan on being the last. Leaders in the tribes all over Papua are working to train and prepare the next generation of Christian leaders and teachers. 

A Papuan man poses with his son

Unlike their grandparents, children born into the Hatam tribe will grow up hearing the Gospel, but they still need training to be leaders in the Church.

Sometimes this training means sending people to Bible schools. TEAM is connected with two Bible schools in Papua, where leaders are working hard to train the next generation of leaders. These schools are Erikson-Tritt Theological College and Roesler Memorial Bible School. Both of these schools help equip future leaders with a solid biblical foundation so they can go out and spread the Gospel to others.

Pray that leaders and teachers will be encouraged in their work and that God will give them endurance during the difficult days. Ask God to raise up strong Christian leaders in the next generation.

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About the author

TEAM - The Evangelical Alliance Mission
TEAM - The Evangelical Alliance Mission

TEAM partners with the local church to send missionaries and establish reproducing churches among the nations, going where the most people have the most need and proclaiming the gospel in both word and action.

6 Comments

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  • I am happy to hear that left out tribes with gospel are starting to witness the lord, praise God. I shall continue to pray for the ministry.

  • God is sending missionaries to the ends of the “‘Earth” while i thought it was obvious every one has heard the good news of salvation, i still need to pray for more extension of Gods kingdom in some parts of the world. While i thank God for the Gospel in four Generations in my family, other families are yet to experience the joy of Gods saving power. Blessings,

  • Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for the prayer guide, I will remember to pray over the items during my personal devotion time and also share with our prayer team.

    God bless,

    Ps. Robert Oluka

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