02/05/2010, 00.00
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Papua: Christians and non-Christians celebrate 150 years of evangelisation

by Mathias Hariyadi
Celebrations commemorate the arrival of the first missionaries from Germany. Everyone comes to share in the festivities, a “national holiday” for locals.
Manokwari (AsiaNews) – Indonesian Muslims join Christians in Papua to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Christianity’s arrival in the area. Most people of this easternmost territory of the country practice Christianity. The same is true for Flores Island and the Maluku Islands (Moluccas). But everyone gathered on Mansinam Island (Manokwari Regency) to celebrate the event.

Today in fact is considered a “national holiday” by locals, a day to remember the planting of the Christian seed in the territory.  Thousands of people were ferried to the island to join in the festivities.

“For us and everyone, it is a day of celebration,” said Elia Ibrahim Loupatty, the top local official.

On 5 February 1855, two German Christian missionaries, Karl Wilhelm Ottow and Johann Gottlob Geissler, landed on Mansinam. Their arrival marked the start of the island’s evangelisation.

The celebration was attended by Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu, Papua Military chief Major General Hotma Marbun, and Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Bekto Brapto.

During the ceremony, men performed an all-male dance, wearing the traditional ‘koteka holim’, as women sang in the background. The highlight of the event was a series of ritual fights.

Across the regency, Christians went to church in large numbers. One of them is called Matthew. He said, “To express our gratitude to those German pastors, all Christians are celebrating ‘Pekabaran Injil’,” Evangelisation Day.

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