People of the Trees: Journey to the Korowai - Part 2
Deep Jungle — Korwai regions, Papua: The soft rain of the night has stopped and a steam lifts from the jungle floor at early dawn. A light blue hue is cast over everything as we sip boiled water from our cups. The Korowai porters on our team are already active and moving supplies into their packs for our next march into deeper regions. Yesterday, we prayed with, and led two elderly Korowai brothers to the Lord, both of whom sit with us and our team around the last embers of our morning fire. The brothers both give hearty smiles and talk excitedly to our guides about the direction of other Korowai settlement. They are pleased to know we will bring the message of the Gospel to others and want to help us as much as possible. As we set off into the jungle, we wave goodbye to the two brothers and they wave back by each putting a hand up in silence. Within a minute after leaving the brothers, we are engulfed by the dense jungle and begin slogging through knee-deep waters. Hour after hour passes. Near midday, we cross a river by felling large trees and fixing makeshift hand ropes from vines. On the other side of the river, about 100-yards near the tree line, there is a group of Korowai standing with their eyes fixed upon us. We spot their tree home in the distance, which is camouflaged very well, and make our way over to them. They welcome us all with smiles and curious eyes. The younger ones in the group laugh and try to hid their shy smiles with their hands at the sight of us. At their tree home there are more Korowai sitting below in a leafy shelter, and they bid us to come and sit with them. They offer our expedition party bananas, and we eat the fruit like starved men. There are 14 people total living here, and they range in age from a newborn baby to an elderly woman who is sick with malaria and laboring to breathe. As we sit with the group, we explain why we have come and begin to share the Gospel. Our young Korowai porters are very excited to help us explain the good news and detail every part of the message to make sure the Korowai of this settlement understand clearly. Heads nod in understanding from the settlement members as we explain the life of Jesus — His healing ministry, miracles, teachings and the ultimate mission to reconcile man with God through His death. As we show them the pictorials on our cellphone that display the Biblical stories we are sharing, the Korowai look on with wide-eyes and amazed whispers as they point to the pictures. For the Korowai, who are peoples of the trees, the sight of the crucifixion is especially powerful. They are not a people unaware of violence, as theirs is a brutal history of clan fighting, killings and even cannibalism, but there is shock amongst them at the thought of such elaborate torture and ending of one’s life by nailing a person to a tree. They pity Jesus and feel remorse for Him. They even thumb their own hands where a nail would be placed as we describe the scene on the cross. When we tell them of His resurrection and ascension, they are happy and amazed. Eyes brighten and smiles are seen. We then tell them, “Now this message is coming to you.” They sit even closer as we say this, and then we continue, “God is not far from you. He sees us all in this very moment and loves you deeply. He came to forgive all sins, and to live in you and give you an eternal kingdom…forever…and ever. All you have to do is believe and receive Him in. He will wash all your sins away and create in you a new heart.” There is not one Korowai in this settlement as we speak these words that doesn’t want to receive Him. We pray with them and all believe upon the name of Jesus. It is a powerful moment and many of the Korowai are crying with tearful joy. We are also overcome with tears as we witness the new creation in our midst.
We then lay hands on the sick amongst the group after we explain faith in healing and God’s promises. One young man, who is suffering from a terrible cut on his index finger, motions for us to pray for him also. His arm is limp and infected badly as a result. William prays for him, and as he does, William senses a torment on this young man in his dreams. After we rebuke the evil spirits and finish praying over him, we ask the young man how he cut his finger. He tells us he had a dream where his finger was on fire and when he woke up he saw that his finger was nearly seared to the bone like his dream. He tells us there have been many more dark and terrible dreams since that first injury and it has been frightening for him to sleep. We explain that the power of God is stronger than any evil force and tell him how to rebuke the devil in Jesus name if the enemy ever tries to oppress him again. He smiles, and you could see in his eyes that he was free. We pray for everyone else in the group, as sickness and disease is common. God heals the sick and confirms His word with signs following.
In the days that followed, we ministered in at least three villages per day and saw exactly the same results — All believed in the name of Jesus. There wasn’t one group that rejected the message, and in fact, as word spread, groups began to seek out our expedition party to hear the message. God is good and when the Gospel is preached, it goes forward in power! Next month we will share the final part of our mission to the Korowai and highlight a particular village where we experienced a rare and unique moment of contact with a remote Korowai family.