The Mission Aviation Fellowship single-engine Cessna 185 flies low over the expansive rain forest in Indonesia's East Kalimantan Province on Borneo, the world's third-largest island. Pilot Dar Bone points out the wisps of smoke marking brush-clearing fires set by village farmers and then lands the Cessna on a tiny grassy plot. Because of drought, crops are meager and money from the sale of rice is scarce.
The cargo hold of the small plane carries supplies ordered by the Dayak villagers living in isolated settlements. With fuel costs rising, it is questionable whether these supply flights can continue. The Asian financial crisis has rippled into the remotest corners of Indonesia, a nation of 3,000 islands and 207 million people.
Despite the difficulties, even the smallest village supports a church. Evangelization of the 21 Dayak tribes began nearly a century ago. Formerly animistic headhunters and cannibals making intervillage raids, the Dayak now live peaceably, and 95 percent of those in East Kalimantan are Christian.
SURVIVAL AND REVIVAL: In spite of the success of evangelism among the Dayak, economic hardship has threatened the survival of their villages. At the same time, church leaders are engaged in a second battlefront for spiritual revival within their churches.
Dayak congregations are not immune from modern pressures. Church leaders say it is difficult to keep villagers focused on their faith, and pastors are not always accorded the respect they once received.
Ngau Ifung lives with his family in the small town of Long Nawang in the deep green thicket of rain forest along the Kayan River. Although a layperson, Ifung, a Christian since 1963, serves as district superintendent to more than 15 village churches.
"My parents ...1
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