I first read this about 20 years ago. Then, earlier this year, I was helping to run a confirmation class and we were discussing the kind of books we like to read. One of the lads said he liked to read books about soldiers and war and that sort of thing. I thought maybe he’d like to read this… Unfortunately, it’s out of print, and therefore I didn’t get hold of a copy straight away. However, I contacted MAF, who found some slightly beaten up copies in a store somewhere. They were happy to send me a couple (I figured I’d hang onto one to lend out!) and did so very speedily.
Anyway, I had a few vague memories of the book (like the story about narrowly avoiding flying into powerlines), but thought I should reread it before giving a copy to someone. I did so, and REALLY enjoyed it. It’s amusingly and engagingly written, and does an amazing job of painting a brilliant picture of the coming together of two very different people. In some ways, this is the goal of the book – to bring together two people from opposite sides of the world. It starts with Marfleet’s military work, and flips between this and the life of ‘Moondi’, a warrior. Moondi is a fictitious character from a very real tribe (the Hupla) in the Desa valley on Irian Jaya (now Papua). The authors explain that Moondi, while not a real person, is an amalgam of a number of people, and his story is one woven together from the stories and lives of some of his people.
After a number of years in military service, Marfleet says, “I – we – had a decision to take. Reference ‘upwards’ being the rule in the Christian’s life, as well as in the army, I prayed very specially for some answers. They weren’t long in coming.” Throughout the book, his reliance on God for both safety and wisdom is crucial, and he refers and alludes often to the importance of his faith in his life. The result of the prayers led to work with Mission Aviation Fellowship, and a posting to Irian Jaya.
Here, towards the end of the book, Moondi and Marfleet’s lives begin to draw inexorably closer. Two ‘warriors’ whose decisions have brought them to within touching distance, despite the thousands of miles that once separated them. This is a fantastic book. I really enjoyed rereading it and would recommend it most highly. It’s both a fascinating story and a challenge to consider how we might best be able to serve. It’s well written, with plenty of humour as well as an ability to retell a story and to paint a scene remarkably well.