A remote Indonesian tribe responsible for killing two missionaries in the 1960s have since been profoundly impacted by the gospel and are now excited to receive Bibles in their language.
The Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) lost two of its mission workers, Stan Dale and Phillip Masters, in 1965 as they arrived to scout out a place for a new airstrip in order to explain the gospel to the Yali tribe. As they made their way through the jungle, they were set upon by the tribe's warriors, who fired a volley of arrows at the men, killing them, along with a tribesman called Luliap Pahabo - the first Yali man to receive the gospel.
At the time of his murder, Stan was translating the book of Acts into the Yali dialect - a task which has now been completed by MAF translators.
Three months after their deaths, an MAF plane crashed in the jungle, tragically killing the pilot and a missionary family called the Newmans. Miraculously, the youngest son, Paul, survived. As he stumbled out of the wreckage, he found himself in the same valley where Stan and Phil had been killed. Paul then happened upon the house of a Yali man who was firmly against attacking missionaries. The man kept Paul safe until a search party arrived.
"These events led to new interaction with the Yali tribe," MAF explained. "Amazingly, they believed this second visit from white strangers was a positive sign and therefore invited them to stay in their village.
"Five years later, the first 35 believers in the Seng Valley were baptised – the church was born. 55 years after MAF first discovered the Yali tribe, God – in partnership with MAF, translators and missionaries – has faithfully worked through a killing and a plane crash."
Recently, MAF pilots flew more than 1,100 Bibles and 1,400 children’s Bibles to the remote Papuan villages of Holuwon, Oakbisik and DeKai in Indonesia.
"There were not enough Bibles for this Yali community, so last year, their church ordered more to be printed in Jakarta and shipped them to MAF’s hangar in Papua, Indonesia," the group said.
"In Dekai, the Bibles were distributed to church evangelists and pastors. In Oakbisik, people from neighbouring villages walked for a whole day just to receive a Bible.
"The rest went to Holuwan where the ladies were waiting, excitedly swaying back and forth, chanting in their Yali tongue. They were waiting for the MAF plane to land, which would bring them Bibles in their own language.
"The Cessna Caravan touched down and taxied to the top of the mountain airstrip. As MAF pilots, Dave Ringenberg and Peter Santana, climbed out of the plane, the colourfully dressed villagers continued to chant and sway."
Ringenberg said: “It felt like we were on holy ground.
"It was a holy moment – one to be remembered.”