Monday, May 2, 2011

Street Child to Visionary

(Day 10 of 15-day Prayer Challenge)

by Bud Larsen from:  Rev. 7, Every Nation People Language, Spring 2008, vol. 3, issue 2

In Bible translation work, when we commit what we have learned to faithful workers who have the vision to train others, there’s no telling where God will lead them. My wife, Marlys, and I are community development consultants. Among other things, we teach about the holistic needs of communities, how to respond to physical and social needs, as well as spiritual ones.

Akhy family

In many parts of the world, music and drama serve as effective tools for community change, celebration and learning. While teaching a course in guitar building and tanning for Dani people in the highlands of Papua, we met Akhy Logo, a young Dani man who had grown up in an orphanage in the city of Wamena. He showed up unexpectedly at the course and stood outside the window of the classroom, watching closely what was being taught.

About three years later we returned to Sentani on Papua’s coast where Akhy was living then. He made sure he was part of the course. Akhy wrote songs, recorded CDs, learned how to make guitars and ukuleles, and developed a keen aptitude for computers. He also had an uncanny ability to learn English and was making a small income as an English tutor. In the evenings Akhy, Marlys and I would spend hours developing a plan for his vision to minister to street kids in Wamena.

Our course finished and we returned to the U.S. About a year later, Akhy wrote to tell how he and his brother-in-law had organized and registered with the provincial government a yayasan—an organization built on the vision of local people to meet their community development needs. They named it Tiranus, which comes from a place mentioned in Acts 19:9 (Tyrannus in English) where the apostle Paul held daily discussions with disciples in a lecture hall.

Akhy envisioned a school whose curriculum included guitar building, writing and recording music, computer skills, math, English, and Bible—all subjects that had helped him go from street kid and orphan to confident visionary and teacher. Over 200 Danis applied, but his staff decided to start small with only 15 people, beginning classes in a little, donated Papuan-style house.

Akhy familyDuring our next round of training workshops, we included 14 eager Tiranus students and, in addition to instrument building, recording, and improving their English teaching skills, we helped them get a grant to buy five computers and install electrical wiring in their classroom. We set up a musical instrument-building workshop under a tarp behind the classroom and, together, made guitars, ukuleles, three-stringed fiddles, and a string bass. Students practiced writing and recording what we call “songs that teach and inspire” for worship, for changing attitudes, and for learning and remembering.

When we returned to Sentani in January 2007 for more workshops, Akhy told how a large church there had invited Tiranus to play their hand-made instruments and sing their songs. The congregation was amazed that Papuans could actually build guitars—something they thought could only be made in factories. They took many photos and asked many questions.

Now after their second year of classes, Tiranus is expanding. While Akhy’s brother-in-law and others remain at the Sentani site (doing development work, as well as completing the Wolok translation—a dialect of Dani), Akhy has packed up computers, books and tools and sent them to Wamena with the help of YAJASI* airplanes. There they have begun building their permanent school near the orphanage where Akhy grew up.

Teaching street kids computer skills, English, guitar building and song writing may not sound much like Bible translation and literacy work, but as a byproduct of the Word working in the heart of a young visionary, it has offered an unusual opportunity to Dani orphans and street kids.

* YAJASI is a JAARS partner in aviation.


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