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What is God Doing in West Papua? Interview with Shamow’el Rama Surya

Lathrop: While you were working on your photo book about West Papua, which came to be called A Certain Grace, some amazing things took place. Please tell our readers what happened.

Surya: I was excited when came back again to Jakarta because I had seen miraculous moments of God’s work among His people in Arfak Mountain, West Papua.

God’s grace has never failed!

Hundreds of the villagers were healed because their own children prayed for them in the name of Jesus Christ. It was like a wildfire, spreading to everybody who would bow down to the Lord God Almighty.

That’s a grace! A very very sure grace, no kidding, no tricks.

So, I told the publisher to use the title, A Certain Grace.

Besides this, there is another reason for the title, Sebastiao Salgado was my favorite photographer in the beginning of my career in photography. His recent book is Genesis.

I met him in 1997 and I gave him my first book (just published in 1996) and he gave me his new book Workers.

He hired me as an assistant in Jakarta for 3 weeks. Another of his books is entitled, Uncertain Grace. But at the time, I didn’t get the real meaning of this title. After I become disciple, I had more understanding about God’s grace.

God’s grace has never failed! I have no doubt about it because that’s His promises to all mankind that’s written in the Bible. And my life, after I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my only savior, is a grace itself.

Lathrop: What kind of healings did you witness there?

Surya: I witnessed local people from toddler to the elders, even their pastors healed from malaria fever, internal organs sickness, broken bones, and headaches. Besides taking photos, I made video recordings as well. I have a lot of video footage, and I need to hire a video editor to unite them into a documentary testimonial video.


Lathrop: Had the children been instructed how to pray for the sick?

Topographic locator map for Papua (Indonesian part of New Guinea).Image: Sadalmelik

Surya: Yes! In the beginning, I gave instruction and taught them to pray in Jesus’s name and let them read Mark 16:15-18. Also, I instructed them to read Psalm 91. I told them not to worry about the result after they pray. Do not feel guilty if the sick are not healed instantly. Let God decide. Healing is God’s responsibility and we do our part to pray with trust in Him and with love for others.

Later, after they began to the testimony from the sick who had been healed, they had more confidence. We gave thanks and joy each time God answered their prayer immediately.

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Category: Church History, Spring 2016

About the Author: Shamow'el Rama Surya is a Sumatran with over 25 years of experience in documentary photography. The Jakarta Post named him one of the most significant photographers of Indonesia and he was awarded “Photographer of The Year” by German Fotomagazin in 1997. He has exhibited his work in galleries worldwide including Museum der Kulturen (Basel, Switzerland), Taksu Gallery (Jakarta, Indonesia), and Richard Meyer Culture Gallery (Petitenget, Bali). His work has been featured in numerous newspapers, magazines, and performance art exhibits. His photobooks include Yang Kuat Yang Kalah (“The Strong Ones Are The Beaten Ones,” Fotomedia Magazine, 1996) and A Certain Grace (Afterhours Books Publishing, 2015). Shamow'el Rama Surya

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