Of all the speaking engagements Paul Newman has made, “never before have Papuan students been involved in a presentation,” until March 23, 2017 at Corban University. A former missionary, Newman engaged the community in a conversation on culture and the love and sovereignty of God in Papua, Indonesia.
As a boy in 1968, a tragic plane crash in the remote Seng Valley in the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua left Newman the only surviving member of his immediate family. A nearby village, hitherto hostile to the Gospel, looked after him for three days after the accident. During his recovery, Newman built a relationship with an elder in the village – preparing the way for future missionaries to reach the Yali people in the region.
Newman had no idea that this relationship would be used years later to bring God’s word to the Yali people. God used a personal tragedy to break hearts of stone and seek and save the Yali.
God has brought hope out of disaster – the village later appropriated a broken wing from the crash site as a communion table.
Newman had spent his childhood in West Papua while his father worked as an accountant for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) coordinating the purchase and delivery of supplies by plane to missionaries in the interior highlands. After the accident, he moved to the greater Los Angeles area to live with extended family and continue his education.
Mission Aviation Fellowship is a Christian organization that flies small airplanes to unreachable areas to bring hope to isolated people by extending God’s hand. They have worked very closely with the Indonesian armed forces during natural disasters throughout the Indonesian islands.
Newman thus grew up astride two cultures: rural Papua and urban America. Stepping across cultures equipped him to understand the unique challenges facing international students in the U.S.
Speaking to an audience of 30 Corban University students and community members, Newman admitted that Papuan students in the US “know more than I do – they know more stories.”
Newman demonstrated cultural greetings with students Deswan Wanimbo, Lemison Jikwa, and others and discussed differences in cultural norms of eye contact and personal space between Papua and the U.S.
Newman and Corban University professor Orin Kidd also introduced the audience to translation of the New Testament and efforts to deliver the Bible to the Kimyal people in Korupun. Student Deswan Wanimbo recognized his home village in the MAF footage.
The audience emerged with a deeper understanding of the experiences that God uses to shape His Kingdom into a diverse, multi-ethnic body.
International students at Corban University may complete intensive English studies in the Pathway to English program prior to enrolling in a four-year bachelor’s degree program at Corban or elsewhere.
Those interested in supporting international students at Corban University in tutoring, mentoring or outings can message firstname.lastname@example.org.