Learn to Dream as a Christian
Updated: May 23, 2020
Life in West Papua has always been slightly different from life in other places where we have lived as a family. One day in May 1991, this came home to me in a rather unexpected way. Word came across from the village in the morning that Kumotena had given birth to a healthy baby boy. Kumotena was the wife of a respected church elder Wakee. Later that day Wapke, my wife, asked him what he was going to call his new baby boy, “We will call him Simion”, he replied. “That is the name Les has given him.”
I arrived home from teaching in the Bible School and Wapke gave me the good news about Wakee and Kumotena’s baby. “Why did you choose the name Simion for him”, she asked. I became rather confused, as I had not even known that the baby was born until then. I assured her that I never gave the baby a name, but she insisted that Wakee was quite definite about it. So I set off to find Wakee in the village and after preliminary greetings and inquiring about the welfare of his wife and new son I asked him why he had told Wapke that I had named his child. He looked straight at me and said, “You told Kumotena that we had to call our baby boy Simion. In complete amazement I replied, “How could I, when I didn’t even know that he was born?”
With a big smile on his face he answered, “You did tell Kumotena to call our baby boy Simion. A few months ago, when you were away in Sentani, Kumotena had a dream. In the dream, you told her that she was going to have a baby boy and that she had to call him Simion.” Recovering quite well and understanding the cultural situation I replied, “Well, I guess I did tell her to call him Simion, I must have forgotten.”
Dreams play an important role in the lives of the Momina people. In fact, it was through a dream that God prepared the way for the coming of the gospel. Prior to the initial contact with the mission a man called Moorookoo, who was a dreamer or diviner, had a dream. In the dream, he was taken to the place in the sky where the sky people live. He was told by the sky people that at a future time people with white skin and straight hair like a cassowary would come and give them a new revelation from the God of their ancestors which they must obey. These same people would cut down the trees at the junction of the Sumo and Aki-in Rivers, the purpose of which was unclear. He told the people of his long-house of the dream and they took his words seriously and remembered them for he was highly respected by them.
Interestingly enough his importance was verified to the village of Sumo just a few days before he died. He went into the jungle with Sooai and Obaee, two men from his long-house at Sumo. While in the jungle he saw a ladder, which went up to the sky. He indicated to his two friends that he was about leave them and go to dwell among the sky people. They were urging him to come. Sooai and Obaee could not see the ladder and did not want him to leave, so they physically restrained him and prevented him from leaving. They took Moorookoo back to the long-house. Two days later, this perfectly healthy man died. These events were remembered by the people of Sumo and prepared them for our coming with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the building of the airstrip at the junction of the Sumo and Aki-in Rivers.
The Momina people responded to the gospel and the church was established among them. Dreams have continued to play a significant part in their lives. For example, the night before a hunting trip the hunters would pray to God asking the Holy Spirit to show them the best place to hunt. Often one of the hunting party would have a dream in which he saw a location in the jungle where there were many pigs. In the morning he would share this knowledge with the rest of the party and they would head off to the location indicated in the dream for what turned out to be a very successful hunting trip.
Dreams were so prevalent in the lives of the Momina believers that I encouraged the elders of the church to screen people’s dreams to determine whether they were from God. So it became a common feature of church life to have people bring their dreams to the elders for critique and interpretation. On one occasion, a young man came to the elders with what appeared to be a fairly outrageous dream. I wondered how they would handle this and listened carefully. To my surprise Daniel, a man of great spiritual wisdom and insight, told the young man to go and learn to dream as a Christian. My first reaction was to think. “What on earth is he saying?” Then it dawned on me what he was getting at. He was endeavouring to teach this young man and the rest of the community that everything, including dreams need to be brought under Christ’s lordship. In this context, it made perfect sense and was of great importance for this new believer to ‘'learn to dream as a Christian.”