A Great Responsibility!

We recently celebrated the completion of the Una Bible, both Old and New Testaments, in Papua, Indonesia. The Una people live high in the mountains of Papua. They are experts in gardening and raising livestock in their stunning but challenging environment. Their first contact with missionaries was in 1973. Shortly thereafter, they carved a runway into a natural plateau at 6,100 feet elevation in the central village of Langda.

Landing at this runway is one of my favorite challenges. It is only 445 meters long, with sheer drop-offs on either end. I’ve never landed on an aircraft carrier, but this is probably as close as I will get. The approach path has to be controlled carefully to assure a landing in a precise 30-meter zone, so that there is enough room to stop the three-ton aircraft before the end of the runway.

Langda runway on the day of the celebration. Photo by Kars Kroneman

The New Testament was completed in 2007, with much of the work done by the Kroneman family. Since then, Dick and Margreet have continued to serve as consultants for a team of Una translators working on the Old Testament. Fifteen years of hard work later, the printed complete Bibles are in the hands of the Una people!

These YAJASI pilots, along with Luke, flew 35 planeloads into or out of Langda in connection with the celebration. Kars, in the dark blue shirt, grew up in this village and now serves his parents and the people he grew up with via mission aviation. Photo by Luke Sjoblom

Many pastors and elders were present for the celebration, along with most of the Kroneman family and the translation team. Government officials also flew in, and even some YAJASI employees got to share in the experience. Those of us in attendance enjoyed hearing one of the pastors preach a short sermon based on a passage in Isaiah, which he got to read from his brand new Bible.

Traditionally dressed, with bow and arrows, this man helps us remember a time before the gospel came, when the Una people were constantly at war. Photo by Luke Sjoblom


Before the celebration, YAJASI flew over 1,000 Bibles to Langda. Photo by Brad McFarlane


Members of the translation team give Bibles to the pastors. Photo by Luke Sjoblom


Pastors and elders hold their new Bibles high in celebration. Photo by Luke Sjoblom

I was challenged by one theme in particular during the event. The Una people are privileged to be one of the few people groups in Papua with the complete Bible in their language. Of over 250 unique language groups in Papua, only around 50 have the New Testament, and the Una dedication marks the sixth complete Bible among these language groups. However, this also comes with great responsibility—a responsibility to read, believe, and follow God’s Word, and to share it with others. What about those of us who have had the Bible for generations? Are we treating God’s Word with the respect and responsibility it deserves?


Pastor Yulius with his new Bible. The Kronemans took in Yulius, who was an orphan, when he was a teenager. He worked for them and considers himself to be their “oldest son”. Photo by Luke Sjoblom

Thank you for praying for the Una church!


Luke Sjoblom

Luke Sjoblom

Luke and Rachelle returned to Indonesia in 2017 to serve in Papua where they both grew up as missionary kids. Luke is a pilot-mechanic with YAJASI and Rachelle keeps busy caring for their four children.