The Unifying Power of God’s Word

The Unifying Power of God’s Word

December 14, 2023

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Hello! My name is Samuel Harris (you can spot me in the beige hat above), and I am a lead writer for Seed Company’s communications team. I’d love to share how I found community in the remote villages of Indonesia.

In August, I attended two New Testament dedications with remote people groups in Papua, Indonesia. During my time there, I was struck not only by the dedication ceremonies themselves—joyful as they were—but also by the diverse community of people I met, all celebrating God’s Word, and work, together.

Heartfelt Hospitality

Seed Company Field Project Manager Justin and I spent three days among the Kobas people, followed by a day of rest, and then four days with the Kosarek people. In many ways, these cultures were similar, especially in how they treated guests. As soon as we deplaned in both locations, community members were waiting to greet us with traditional songs, dances, and gifts. Then we were escorted to the village center where several community leaders were lined up to meet us and shake our hands. I couldn’t communicate much, but I’d learned the Indonesian words for “hello” (Halo) and “thank you,” (Terima kasih) so I repeated them often. It was a humbling experience. They didn’t know me or speak my language, but they welcomed me as an honored guest!

Both people groups noted the unifying power of God’s Word. One Kobas man explained, “There’s been an end of war and fighting. Family against family, clan against clan—there hasn’t been loss of blood like that anymore.” Another added, “The Word of God brings us together—with our wives, with our kids, and with one another.” Similarly, a Kosarek man commented that people who follow Scripture experience harmony in their homes as well as between villages. Even in my short visits to both communities, I was an honored recipient of this spirit of unity. I was a welcomed member of their family … and the greater family of God.

Christlike Community

Seed Company isn’t the only organization that has invested in these projects. Several English-speaking visitors from America, New Zealand, and other countries also came for both dedication events. Although we only spent a few days together, we formed bonds over our common purpose: to celebrate God’s work among these people.

I especially connected with Adit and Putri. This married couple teaches literacy and other elementary subjects to Kosarek schoolchildren. They both speak English fluently, so I didn’t need an interpreter to talk to them. And when I visited them on Saturday, I also met their young daughter, who was about my son’s age. Their small house was decorated with children’s drawings and plenty of books and board games, all things that spoke of our mutual interests.

That evening, Adit and Putri invited people over for games, and I played with them and two other visiting missionaries. I later told my wife that I wished she could meet them and that we could all spend more time getting to know one another. Adit and Putri were our kind of people.

Charity amid Challenges

Sadly, my trip took a turn for the worse. On Sunday morning, I woke up ill and had to decline the day’s activities. I felt lonely and discouraged—being sick and cooped up alone, thousands of miles away from my wife and son with no way to contact them. I thought, I know things will be better in a day or two, but right now, I’m feeling low. Thankfully, a missionary doctor gave me some medicine, and Adit made me tea and graciously let me use his house as a place to recover.

Later that evening, I rallied and tried to attend a pre-dedication worship service, but my efforts were premature. Ethan, the lead missionaries’ grown son, came over to offer encouragement and prayer. He prayed that I’d be well enough to enjoy the next day’s festivities and do the job I’d come for—to collect stories of God’s favor and faithfulness among the Kosarek people.

A Touching Testimony

Ethan’s prayers worked! By Monday morning, I was well enough to function again. And I was thankful—it was the day of the dedication! The ceremony was beautiful. Different groups sang traditional songs in their language. Mike, the lead Wycliffe missionary, gave a speech, and other Kosarek people spoke too, followed by a ceremonial time of New Testament copies being distributed to community leaders.

The most meaningful part for me came during a musical drama that Adit and Putri’s schoolchildren performed—showing how their community was once characterized by war and violence until the gospel came. It concluded with a powerful song of worship in both English and Kosarek. I don’t always get openly emotional, but after the previous day’s discouragement, hearing those children praise God for how he’d changed their lives brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.

Unforgettable Unity

After the ceremony, we began the long journey home. By Thursday, I was back in Texas with my family, but I won’t soon forget the Kobas and Kosarek people—or the other friendships I made while visiting them. Even thousands of miles away from my family and my church body, God reminded me that the fellowship we have in Christ transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. I remain grateful for the experience, and I look forward to seeing these people again in heaven when we’ll worship together for eternity.

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