The Hewas - God’s story, God’s people, God’s future. Part 2
Missionary Jonathan Kopf and his wife Susan were invited to live amongst some 50 Hewa people. They shared the Gospel of Jesus, taught literacy in the local language, and showed them how to care for their most basic medical needs.
Read part 1 of this story HERE.
The people realised their isolation and the need for further services. Through hard labour and determination. They turned the dense jungle into an airstrip. MAF refers to its airstrip as Yifki and recently, lots of plane loads of iron posts, timber, plywood, and other building materials were flown into it.
Come along as Jonathan shares about how God responded to the tribe’s need for education and has been providing teachers and the buildings necessary for this endeavour.
Literacy in the Local Language
We moved to Yifki in 2012. Susan, my wife, has always had a heart and passion for the kids, and we’ve seen a real need for education. It’s not that we wanted to impose western values. It's that the Hewa adults want their kids to be educated because it takes some sort of education for the children to later become teachers or medical workers or police officers in their own village.
First, we taught them literacy in their own language, and how to read and write; so that they could read the Bible that we were translating for them.
But then Susan took it to the next level, and that was to teach them how to read and write in the Melanesian Pidgin language that is spoken in towns. My wife held classes every day for an hour or two.
The People’s Plea for Continued Education
Later, as we were getting ready to start transitioning out of the tribe, when we were getting closer to the end of our translation project, the village leaders approached us and said, ‘Well, who’s going to continue to educate our children?’
We had earlier tried to be a liaison, speaking with government officials, asking for a little public school in our village. It just never materialised for one reason or another. We struggled with that.
A pastor from the Goroka area then challenged us, ‘Why aren’t you praying and asking God to bring you Christian teachers? Let’s start a little Christian school.’
I responded that I wouldn’t know how to find the right kind of teachers who could live way out in this remote location, who had a love for these kids, and who would teach them how to follow Jesus as well as the necessary academics.
The pastor told me, as in rebuking my faith, ‘I will worry about that. You pray. You ask God to lead me to the right person. I will start interviewing potential certified teachers to live in the tribe here.’
God sends Teachers
With that, we started this venture with anticipation, waiting to see what God would do.
A year and a half ago, the Lord, through this pastor, brought two men for us to interview. We interviewed them right here in this village. We asked our elders to make sure that they are not just religious, but that they were actually followers of Jesus. And so the elders interviewed the prospective teachers.
And a year and a half ago, the school was started. First, with one teacher, then later we got our second teacher, and now we have a third. Two men and one woman are here teaching our students. We’re very excited to see the progress.
Crammed into the School House
One of our previous co-workers donated his house to the village to be used as a temporary schoolroom, and we honour God for that. It’s not a huge house, but it provides enough space for the three teachers to teach their 58 students. They’re kind of crammed into this house. It’s obvious we will need more classrooms in order for the school to grow.
So, we have been praying about the need for more school rooms and we have been very grateful to the many people who have contributed, who have realised that this is a beautiful thing that the Lord is doing out here in the jungle.
A new School for Yifki
As the Lord began providing finances, we were able to have any building materials flown into the tribe. Now we are in the process of preparing to put up the first of three double classrooms. Just this week, a team of three men came, and they helped the Hewa dig the holes and set iron steel posts in cement as the foundation for the future school.
The village is very excited about what God is doing. They can’t wait to see more of their kids joining the school.
Right now, we’re teaching up to the fourth grade, and we are hoping to expand. As the Lord provides, we hope to expand up to grade eight. We are seeing it already happen.
God’s Blessing and a Team’s Effort
Susan and I are obviously limited in what we can accomplish. We know that God will work to accomplish His plans and it will be clear that He was the One who made it happen.
We are grateful for the huge team that makes it possible, like MAF coming and helping with flights, and like the people who have volunteered to help. Even this week we were grateful for the Edsmyr family who had come to visit Yifki, and while here helped us by installing our satellite dish and fixing our tractor. MAF is such a blessing, and we are deeply grateful.