What a privilege and opportunity to speak with someone from another culture. Our conversations began over six months ago, and we have been in contact ever since. Ryon, whom you will meet in this morning’s worship, is a teacher in the Black Pearl Network’s English-speaking program. She and fourteen other teachers are involved in teaching English to Papuan students. The intent is very simple. If the students can speak English, they are more likely to get employment later in government, the mining and tourist industries or qualify for scholarships to overseas universities.
I began speaking to Ryon, and over time, our Sunday group has expanded to three people, all sharing their experience, whether as they encountered worship or life itself. All three women, Ryon, Mina and Keri, attend local churches and with it the intent to explore what discipleship means in their lives. I asked if they would share a little of what Christmas means to them when I spoke with them last Sunday. They have followed up this conversation with videos which I will play in today’s worship. It is a joy to see the effect of many conversations, particularly in their ability to share Papuan life in a second language.
Trip to Papua
I have also been in constant contact and conversation with my friend Ross Gobby who lives in Dunsborough, South of Perth. Ross has accompanied me on many trips to the Kimberley, and I returned the favour by joining with him in this year’s trip to Papua. I have asked Ross to take responsibility for our prayers of intercession, knowing that his life is a wonderful example of what it means to put prayer into practice. He is always keen to explore creative ideas for being involved with the people of Mowanjum and Papua.
Last year, he helped organise a visit to Kunmunya, the lands on the remote Kimberley coast where Presbyterian missionaries first met the ancestors of the current day Mowanjum people. The trip required six years of planning and obtaining grants of around $70,000 It would not have happened without Ross’ careful involvement in this project, nor the programs run by the Black Pearl Network which now offers classes in the English language to over one thousand students across Papua and West Papua. Ross is one of the members of a wonderful group of people from Floreat Uniting and other churches in WA, as well as extraordinary people like Fred Bundah who attended a worship service earlier in the year, or like Ryon, Mina and Keri who have sent me material for this Sunday, who all seek to live their faith through action.
Our work will continue next year, and I will be calling for volunteers who may be interested in conversing with people in Papua, through letter writing and perhaps other means. I will provide further details early in the New Year, but please let me know if you have an interest in this important way of sharing in the Spirit.