by Elinas

‘God gave me this talent.’ An interview with the winner of Paraclete’s Christmas card contest

This year, we held a contest at the Papua Hope Schools (PHS) for the art for Paraclete’s Christmas card. Congrats to Elinas Segenil, age 20, from Papua, Indonesia, for being our winner. He’s been a student at Papuan Hope Schools since 2010, is a 2021 high school graduate and is a current student of PHS’s language institute. He’s also taking online classes at Corban University in Oregon. (Paraclete associates Matt and Jacinda Basinger work for PHS.)

(Interview and translation from Indonesian done by Rebecca Hopkins. Interview edited for length.)

Thank you for your time. I want to know a little bit about you and about your drawing and how you came up with your idea. But first, where are you originally from?

I am from the village Silimo.

Is that a rural area?

Yes, there are no cars or motorcycles or paved roads.

Tell me about your family.

My mother is a farmer. My father is the leader of the village.  I have six siblings. I’m the youngest.

That’s great. How did you realize you could draw?

When I was still living in my village, I was given a test from a team from PHS. I was in kindergarten. I couldn’t read or write yet, so for my test, I just drew.

How did you learn to draw?

In the beginning, I practiced on my own. But later, an older friend who painted taught me for two weeks. Then I often watched YouTube videos on drawing.

Why do you enjoy drawing?

I like to draw because the ideas in my imagination, sometimes I don’t have words for them. But I can communicate with drawing. When I’m not drawing, I feel like something’s missing. I also feel like God gave me this talent, so I need to cultivate it.

That’s amazing. Do you have a lot of time to draw these days?

I try to draw at least 20 minutes a day. Most days, I spend two hours sketching if I’m enjoying it.

(He moved his phone to show his room full of drawings.)

I don’t always have too much time to paint because I have a responsibility to study. But I don’t want to paint just anything or just for money because I want to (steward) my talent from God. So, if there’s a need, I spend the time painting. For example, if it’s someone’s birthday, I’ll sketch something for them. But I don’t usually let them pay me.

Wow, that’s great. What’s your dream job?

I want to become a filmmaker of animated films. I really want to make movies about Papuan culture with stories from our past. I also really want to go back to my village, so I’d also like to become a village leader. I really like living in the forest.

About Christmas, what traditions do you have in your village?

Elinas: In my village, on Dec. 24, we have a pig roast and we cook rice and sweet potatoes. After the food is cooked, one village will bring food to another to share it. And that village will share their food with another village. On Christmas Day, we have a church service.

What was your inspiration for your drawing that you submitted to Paraclete?

Here in Papua, we like to greet people with a greeting that means friendship and peace. So, I thought I could draw how Jesus came to the earth to help us make peace with God. And Christ is the light, so I could use fire. In the remote interior of Papua, we use a torch of fire to light our way while traveling. So, I made the connection between my life in the village and what Jesus has done for us.

Tell me about how you became a Christian.

I was born into a Christian family. From a child, I was taught about Christianity. But when I really became a Christian on my own, it was 2019. There was a flood at that time, and I was frustrated. I also was getting bad grades, so I was frustrated and angry.  I thought my life wasn’t very good. I was feeling hopeless. I wondered why God had created me. At that time, I gave my life and education to God to do something with it. At that moment, I knew that God meant for me to have life and an education.

That flood, was that the really serious one?

Yes, many people died. I was in Sentani. We almost were caught in the flood, but God saved us. Also, we couldn’t get food because the roads were destroyed. So, for two weeks, we got help from others. All my friends were safe. But some of my neighbors were affected by the flood and some died.

After you became a strong Christian, what’s your relationship with God been like?

What changed is that before, my thinking was often not right and I did whatever made me happy. But when I studied the Bible, I read, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…(and) love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22: 37, 39) I love that verse. I try to change my thinking to think about God and what he wants me to do. I keep learning that every day. Our way of thinking is really important because whatever we think about influences what we do.

Well, thank you so much. I’m so glad I’ve gotten a chance to chat with you. Your painting for Paraclete is amazing. We’re blessed.

To view all the submissions for the 2021 Paraclete Christmas Card project, visit here:

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