the MALIYALI people

Imagine your house is falling apart. It’s not just a leaky roof or drafty windows. Your house literally has rotting floors, deteriorating beams, and molting walls. This house is not 100 years old. It’s not even 50 years old. This house is 4 years old. You built it yourself. And now, you will tear it down, and build another one, again with your own hands.

Perhaps, just maybe, if the only thing you had to do was to build houses, you could happily manage building a new one every 4 years. But you also have a family to feed. So you head out on overnight hunting excursions in hopes of finding wild pigs and other animals that will feed your family. You clear the land and plant a garden and hope that the rain will come to grow your plants. 

This is the endless cycle of life for the Maliyali people. They hike, they clear land, they plant, they harvest, and they build, knowing that continually, they will be doing it over again.

They do all of this while living in spiritual darkness and deep fear. They never build more than one window in their houses, for fear that spirits will use these openings to come in and harm them. They are afraid to walk outside at night, uncertain and distrusting of the spirit world. Their lives are controlled not only by the cycle of providing food and shelter, but also by the darkness of a spiritual world that they perceive is constantly active around them.

Living on a mountain range in one of the densest forests in the world, the Maliyali people, like hundreds of tribal groups in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, have a language that is completely unique to their location and culture. Their origins are somewhat unknown but they have been living sustainably, carrying out their ancestral practices in one of the deepest parts of the Papua New Guinean jungles, unnoticed and untouched by the outside world. Their language and way of life have been persevered and unhindered by the pressures of external influence.

After completing two initial surveys into Maliyali proper, the Mueller family as well as the Rimestad family decided to move into Maliyali, make it their home, and begin the first stage of church planting: learning the Maliyali language and culture. 

Maliyali proper (where the Mueller’s and Rimestad’s houses were built) is around 200 men, women and children. Maliyali general is made up of many villages with different location names and roughly a few thousand men, women and children spread across numerous mountain ranges. The overall ministry vision to seeing a thriving church in Maliyali proper and multiplying churches among the people of Maliyali general is a work that will take years of investment and endurance. 

In May of 2017, the Mueller and Rimestad houses were built, and thus the endeavor to learn this undocumented language began! In late 2017, the Earls joined the team. Following house building, these families built relationships with the people and have been learning the language and culture. Once the families reach proficiency in language, they will teach literacy classes to the people of Maliyali. Becoming literate will hold many advantages, but chief among them will be the ability to read the Bible. As yet, there is no Bible translation in the Maliyali language, so this will be the final step for the Mueller and Rimestad families. They will translate the Scriptures into the heart language of the Maliyali people, so that they can read it for themselves! While they are doing this, the two families will teach the people chronologically through the Bible, with the desire and prayer that the Gospel story will penetrate the hearts of the people and bring Maliyali people into the family of God.