Shelley Petrunia
Slideshow image

Heroes by C&MA President, David Hearn

A few weeks ago, one of my heroes died. John Wilson was a pioneer missionary to the Yali people in Papua, Indonesia, known then as Dutch New Guinea. In 1961, missionaries Stan Dale and Bruno de Leeuw made first contact with the Yali tribe in the central mountains Papua, Indonesia. In 1966, two of their early converts were killed for preaching the Gospel. Two years later, Stan, along with another missionary, Phil Masters, was killed by Yali warriors. At that point, Yali Christians were a small and intimidated group within their society. John’s son, Jonathan, writes,

It was into this tense situation that John Wilson, his wife, Gloria, and his one-year-old son, Jonathan, arrived…in 1971. John had heard God’s certain call to New Guinea [Papua] as a teenager, and after clearing several obstacles…including an initial rejection by the mission agency…he was able to spend 20 years serving among the Yali. He went to Papua with quite a low estimation of his abilities. He saw himself as simply a helper, a contributor; others would do the significant work. He quickly found that he had a bent for the anthropological and became an avid student of the culture; significantly still, he found that he was innately skilled as a linguist. In years to come the Yali often would say, “he speaks our language better than we do.”

Read More