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

Lathrop: How did this trip impact your faith?

Surya: Well, this trip made my faith grow. But I also need to be careful of myself, I pray to God to keep me humble as I serve Him.

Pegunungan Arfak, the highest point in West Papua, can be seen from a pond near the Rendani Airport.
Image: David Worabay / Wikimedia Commons.

I know that the miracles happening is God’s work and not mine. God gives me the chance to glorify His Name through testimony.

And the photographic book, A Certain Grace, is a proof of His favor to His people who seek Him, especially in the Arfak Mountain, West Papua, Indonesia.


Lathrop: In closing it there anything else that you would like to say about your book, A Certain Grace?

Surya: What I want to say for the last word is about selling this book to common people in Indonesia is not easy. The price of this book is quite expensive for them. The publisher tried to find sponsor from a Christian company but did not succeed. It seems the businesses he approached were afraid to support a gospel book and have their name listed as the sponsor. So, the person in the company is nice and they say, we will buy some copies, but not give sponsor.

Well, I knew we couldn’t depend on man, we can only depend to God. Thanks be to God! The publisher owner, Mr. Lans Brahmantyo, he took the risk of having the book printed with his own money.

Later, I saw he was not driving his car anymore. I didn’t ask him what’s going on, but I learned that he had sold his car. Well, he produces many books, and I don’t really think he would sell his car only because of A Certain Grace. Perhaps he had other reasons.

Photojournalist Shamow’el Rama Surya entitled this, “Before and After Healed.”


From the publisher:

When you take the first steps on a journey of faith, the grace of God will be with you. Many miracles beyond the reach of reason will happen. Perhaps this is the true nature of a mission trip—a spiritual journey that shapes you, as a living witness to the greatness of God. This was certainly the experience of international photojournalist Shamow’el Rama Surya, when he was called to serve the glory of God, the Creator of all of heaven and earth, in West Papua. This photobook is a humble attempt to give readers a glimpse of the extraordinary grace that was revealed to the photographer with his Leica camera during his West Papuan mission.”


Publisher’s page:

To see the content of this book at a glance, watch this:


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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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