People barricaded the streets. They threw stones at local businesses. They set buildings on fire. The people of Papua, Indonesia, were not happy, and they wanted the government to know.
As TEAM missionaries serving in Papua, Devon and Katie Hayes thought it best to keep a low profile during the protests. They tried to avoid big groups of people in the streets and parks. And eventually, the Indonesian government sent military troops to clean up the situation.
Devon and Katie warned their sons Seth (age 6) and Nick (age 3) about what was going on.
But kids aren’t necessarily concerned about protests and political unrest. They just thought the military men were cool. As kids who liked to play army, they were excited that they might actually meet real-life soldiers.
As the situation cooled down, Devon and Katie took their kids to meet some of the soldiers who were stationed at the local gas station. Seth and Nick’s childlike wonder prompted them to ask the soldiers all kinds of questions. They asked about their guns, their knives, and all the other military gear they could see.
While the kids marveled over the soldiers’ gear, Devon and Katie turned the conversation to adult things. They told the soldiers about their work as missionaries and thanked the soldiers for keeping their city safe.
The soldiers stayed for three weeks. And through the kids’ curiosity, the soldiers and the family soon formed a friendship. When it was time for the soldiers to leave, the Hayes family — especially the kids — were sad they wouldn’t see their new friends anymore.
A Surprise Return
After the soldiers left, things went back to normal for the Hayes family. They continued serving the community and the local church.
And then one Sunday, a group of soldiers came into the church for the service. They came early, dressed in uniform and sat in the middle of the church.
Devon and Katie didn’t think much of it at first. Then they realized some of these soldiers were the same men they had befriended during the protests.
Did these soldiers show up in church because some missionary kids were bold enough to ask questions? Devon and Katie don’t know. But they do know that these soldiers have now heard teaching from the Bible — teaching they may never have heard if a scary situation hadn’t led them to cross paths with curious children.
The situation that brought the soldiers to Papua was far from ideal, but thankfully God doesn’t need ideal situations. He can work through anything — even the innocent curiosity of children — to draw people closer to Him.
* Names may have been changed to protect the privacy of our missionaries
The people of Papua need peace — in their land and in their souls. Will you share the Gospel with the tribes of Papua? Discover opportunities and explore how God can use you to reach island tribes.