As the TEAM Wish List hits mailboxes over the next few weeks, it will be hard to miss the joy of the children on the front cover. Two years ago, when this picture was taken, they were at the beginning of a journey that would lead them to cross cultural boundaries, explore a new way of life and learn how to follow the God who sent his Son for them.
In 2012, Liliane Perew (second from the right on the cover) arrived at the Roesler Memorial Bible School in Papua, Indonesia, where her father enrolled as a student. Established in 2003, the school teaches Scripture and biblical church leadership so Papuan believers can take the gospel back to their home villages or wherever else God may lead them.
Like many of the students Liliane’s father, Yaimo, and his wife, Orpah, had to demonstrate an immediate willingness to “become like little children” (Matt. 18:3) when they arrived at the school. Leaving remote villages where their reputations and lifestyles were well established, they entered the outskirts of Merauke, the largest city on the south coast of Papua.
The urban surroundings made traditional hunting and gathering difficult, so the Perews adjusted their diets, learning to raise chickens on the campus. Then they came home to two-room apartments with hard concrete floors and neighbors from several different tribes. People they would never have associated with before were now Yaimo’s classmates — and their best chance at making friends.
Perhaps the most humbling experience, however, was the classes themselves. In village society, attending school is not encouraged. Many of Yaimo’s classmates arrived illiterate, and the idea of spending the day in a classroom rather than hunting in the jungle was painfully foreign to them. With classes for the whole family, students learned the value of an education alongside their own children.
Despite all this, year after year, students like Yaimo continue at the school. They set aside their pride, their comfort and the life that generations before them have claimed as the best way to live. They do it because Christ has called them to something even better.
In the villages of Papua, many have never heard the gospel. Those who know Christianity at all often practice syncretism, infusing the sacred faith with devil worship and the appeasing of evil spirits. But now, Yaimo and his classmates know what it truly means to follow Christ.
“In the church, we stand against [devil worship],” Yaimo said in his second year. “I am wanting to go back and take to my people what I am learning here at school.”
When Roesler students graduate, they return to their villages and teach a new way of life. Not the life of urbanity and academia, but a life centered on the one true God — a life that asks for childlikeness and offers the kingdom of heaven.
As you look through this year’s TEAM Wish List, we invite you to ask how God might be asking you to live out that childlikeness in your own life. Maybe it’s by humbly learning to live a new lifestyle, sharing your faith with a friend or simply taking joy in the simple things. And maybe it’s by making it possible for someone else to do all of those things, too.
At wishlist.team.org, you will find more than 50 projects specifically requested by missionaries to start and continue effective, life-giving ministries. And whether it’s by equipping national pastors like Yaimo, providing jobs for the oppressed or reaching out in any other number of ways, each project serves one purpose: to bring people to saving faith in Christ and give them a childlike joy that cannot be missed.