While serving in Indonesia in the year 2002, we were asked to travel to Papua and conduct a survey for Christian education possibilities. This eastern-most province of Indonesia is located on the western half of the large island of New Guinea. It is known for its wild beauty and some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth. The main spiritual beliefs of the people here include Christianity, Islam, animism and ancestor worship. The population is estimated at about 2.5 million people with a mixture of 275 languages.
As a result of that trip, a vision and mission was cast to establish a system of high-quality Christian schools that could meet the needs of under-educated children living in the mountainous villages. Each school would also include a medical clinic to serve the community.
Today, that vision has become a reality. In 2014, Alice and I were invited to return to Papua to train and mentor new university graduates who teach and administrate at the two first Papuan Schools of Hope. These are schools where the curriculum is taught through a Christian world-view and the gospel is freely shared with every student every day.
Sekolah Papua Harapan is located in the coastal city of Sentani and has an enrollment of 150 students in grades K-7. About one third of them are from the highlands. They live in dormitories at the school. The others are local day students from the city. A second school, Sekolah Lenteria Harapn is located in the mountain village of Mamit and has an enrollment of about 55 students. No roads lead to this village. It is only accessible by airplanes. Bob visited this village during our stay.
A new campus to serve 750 students is in the planning stages in Sentani, along with a new clinic. Within the next ten years, plans are to establish thirty similar Christian schools and clinics throughout the province of Papua. This is an opportunity with huge proportions for God’s kingdom.
What exactly did we do while we were there? During July and August we helped to lead pre-school training for teachers. Bob taught all physical education classes in grades K-7 as he mentored the new PE teacher. We participated in all the SPH weekly leadership meetings. Alice mentored the principal, the curriculum coordinator, and conducted weekly in-service meetings for the teachers. Bob led weekly teachers’ chapel, using THE STORY materials. We also led devotions in classrooms. We went on campus Prayer Walks, and presented a topic on prayer at the Parent’s meeting. Bob met with the Governor of Papua while he was in Mamit. We also had an unexpected trip to Singapore for surgery and rehab after Alice fell at school and fractured her elbow. Finally, at the end of our five-month stay, we experienced a great farewell party.
As the Holy Spirit led we were able to distribute over 185 books; “Keep Me and Keep All” “Keep Me From Evil, Harm and Fear” (Indonesian Translation), Alice’s book; “Under the Eye of the Magpie.” And Randy Frazee’s books’ “The Story.” (Adult and Children’s versions).
Many who received the books wrote thank you messages. Here are three of them:
Thanks so much for your generosity in sending Bob & Alice to minister to us AND also for the Books you sent with them. You have truly Blessed us through their ministry and have equipped us for the ministry. God has blessed us with them.
Wally Wiley (Founder of SPH)
Dear Beloved Donator,
Firstly thank you for your generosity thus the book could be delivered to me and I received it for free.
Secondly I will pray for you may, God continue to bless you and use you as a channel of His blessing to bless many more lives.
Thirdly and lastly. I hope I can meet you and thank you in person!
I am thankful to God who works through his Great people like you all to give money and also share the great Books to us.
Thank you so much I want to wish you a wonderful life time and God will bless you now and forever.
Blessings & Prayers
Paula Tabisu (SPH Teacher)
God graciously answered our prayers for wisdom, safe travels, health, and help for the one hundred seventy-one day adventure.
Alice and I thank and praise God for your interest, support, and prayers for our missionary projects. To God Be the Glory!
In His service,
Rev. Bob and Alice Smith