The Road Less Traveled–The Life of Winda Selong
It might be up for debate when you claim someone or something is the greatest. How do you measure greatness? We measure by the best or highest standards of the time. The Koh-I-Noor 105 carat diamond is listed as priceless. It is known as the “Mountain of Light” when it was the world’s largest known diamond. It is currently owned by the British crown. Mt. Everest is the undisputed tallest mountain on the planet at 29,029 feet above sea level. Mt. Denali is the tallest peak in North America and is known as the “Great One.” Babe Ruth hit 714 Major League Baseball home runs and is in the Hall of Fame. He is considered by most as the greatest baseball player of all time. The name Stradivarius is the high mark for a violin. In 1716, Antonio Stradivarius made what is called the “Messiah Stradivarius” valued today at a staggering $20,000,000. There are many measurements we use to find the best or the greatest of all time. How do we measure the value of a person’s life? What measuring stick do we use? Is it how many home runs they hit, how fast they run or how high they jump, how much money they have or how many gold albums they have to their singing career? What about their level of knowledge or how many people follow their teachings. All of those can be our standard of greatness. In the Bible, we are reminded by the words of Jesus that the greatest in His Kingdom is not measured by these worldly standards. He never elevated people based on their achievements. He simply taught that the greatest in His kingdom was a “servant.” His Kingdom was upside-down. The proud will be resisted and the humble will be given grace. The big shots in this world could be the have nots in His Kingdom. Cicero, the Roman philosopher, used the words “Summum bonum” meaning the highest good. Aristotle used these two words to define the life of the righteous – a life lived in communion with God. So when you come into contact with someone who has given their life to serve and love others, you will find greatness. Many of us have met one of the greatest among us – her name was Winda.
Winda could be described by any analogy you choose that refers to the best in any class. She would be the most valuable and stunning diamond you have ever seen. She would be the Mt. Everest among us. She is more than just a jaw dropping peak that rises above us. She would be the highest and most sought after towering rock. She could be compared to you or me as running against the world record sprinter, Usain Bolt. He is a gifted athlete who even gets the respect and praise of fellow world-class athletes he runs past in his races. Usain Bolt is one of the great sprinters in history. Winda was born December, 28, 1986, and only lived 30 years on this planet, but she truly was a living example of how we should live a humble loving lifestyle.
Winda was 13 years old when her village was attacked in 1999-2000. Duma was attacked 21 times by militias during the conflict in the North Maluku region. During the final attacks of mid-2000 she saw her brother killed. She witnessed unspeakable atrocities, and it is only by God’s grace that she and her remaining family survived. She would recount the things she saw and would only offer forgiveness to those who destroyed her village and killed family and friends.
In one account she told how after leaving their village for the safety of the town of Tobelo, her brother had been shot in the leg. A doctor recommended they take this boy to Manado, a trip on a seagoing ferry boat, to get to an operating hospital. They were planning on going to Manado but decided not to go on that ferry. That ferry boat set its course for Manado and sank on the way. It is not sure what caused the boat full of refugees fleeing the violence to sink. Some say it was overloaded and others speculate that it was intentionally sunk. There were hundreds who lost their lives, but Winda and her family were not on that boat.
Winda and her family eventually made it to Manado where they lived in the refugee centers until a door opened for Winda to attend Sam Ratulani University and study the English language. During her University days, she contracted T.B. and hid her growing sickness from her family. She became very sick and left Manado and went home. She came to the IFC/Hohidiai T.B. residential care where she was treated and cured of the infectious nature of her T.B. It was in those times we got to meet Winda. Even in her sickness, she would seek to help others. She was a happy person and always welcomed everyone with a beautiful smile. Winda just stayed at the Hohidiai base and became a part of the staff. She taught in the school, helped at the children’s home, and translated when needed. Physically, she was a small woman even for the normally smaller stature of average Indonesian women. She was small but so big in other ways. She never complained with the struggle she had with breathing. She never said a single word against anyone and even forgave those who killed her brother and friends and destroyed her village. Winda was close to death a number of times, and each time she would rally back and always thanked those who treated her. She was so articulate as she described a vision of heaven that she called the “limitless room” with a fountain flowing with unending peace in the middle of heaven. She would say she felt more at peace than at any time in her life and did not fear dying.
Winda lived her life in a way that really seemed like this world was not worthy of her. I know that seems like a stretch for anyone to say, but everyone who knew her would stand with me in affirming those words. Winda would blush and not accept any of these accolades. She would never accept our praises. She lived a quiet loving life. She thought of others and walked in humility. Winda was a true masterpiece of humanity. She was humble, generous, kind, strong, brave and most evident was her selfless life. She truly chose the road less traveled. Winda was selling hand-made jewellery. She was given the supplies and would create the earrings and necklaces. She would sell them for a dollar each, which was too low. Then we found out that she was saving her profits to put a cement floor in her mother’s home. Winda could not go to her mother’s home because the dust on the floor hindered her breathing. She needed $100 to install the cement floor. One necklace at a time she saved so she could go spend time with her mother. She could have asked a number of her friends, and we would have gladly helped, but she just quietly sold her creations to help her mother. This was not a project about only changing a floor from dirt to cement; it was about her desire to love and honor her mother.
Peter Scarborough, the Hohidiai/IFC Director, who knew Winda for over 8 years wrote about reading notes in her journal after she had passed. Peter said that in the January 24th entry, after reading Revelation chapters 11-15, she wrote “Help me, Holy Spirit, so I can be faithful to the end.” In November, she was reading Hosea 8-14 and wrote this prayer: “Help me to love you only, my God, help me ‘cause I desire you more than anything.” There was never the whiff of arrogance in Winda. She saw herself as clay in the Almighty’s hand. Peter added, all I can say is that inside and out she was a saint. She was totally in love with Jesus and just such an example of devotion, joy, peace, longsuffering, forgiveness and many other things. She loved deeply and was loved deeply. She has left a huge hole here but at the same time has inspired us like few people could ever do. I could write many pages about her and her legacy. She is forever in our hearts.
Winda touched so many people like Dan Holmgren who remembers her “million dollar” smile even in the lowest times. Cameron Rogers added, “Time with Winda was always a special thing. Even just being in the same room with her was an uplifting experience. She was always positive, never complained, and never had anything negative to say about anybody. She had a ready smile and there was always something to make her happy and laugh. It really is a special quality to be able to give thanks in all things. Winda knew the love of the Lord very well, and it radiated out and built others up.”
Steve and Lisa Neumuth had a very close relationship with her. Steve wrote, ”Lisa and I have received few compliments as special to us as we did from Winda. She affectionately called us her “Alaskan Parents” and allowed us the privilege of this special honor. I first met Winda in 2012 when we stayed in the same home on the IFC/Hohidiai base. We would get up in the morning, and she was out on the back deck trying to get enough air to breathe. Her lungs were barely able to keep enough oxygen flowing into her. Every day was so challenging for her, but you would never hear her complain. She was dependent on God to provide for her, and He always did. That same year, I went to bargain for a refrigerator from a store in Tobelo, and I needed a translator. Winda happily came along, but when I tried to get her to bargain for a cheaper price, she just looked at me with those beautiful eyes and told me, “I can’t say that!” The store owner and I started laughing, and I got my better deal without hardly trying. She had favor with everyone! Last year, Lisa taught her to sew. She was always there, always willing to put her hand to whatever was needed; always with a smile that somehow, no matter how she felt, she always made you feel loved. Winda was a living testimony to those who desired to walk out their life as Christ did. She walked in the fruit of the Spirit and was spirit filled daily as she spent precious time with her Heavenly Father. Now she is with Him forever. We will miss our lovely Indonesian daughter so much…until we meet again!
We will all miss this beautiful woman. She is everything we mentioned in this tribute and more. We will all miss her gentle spirit and warm smile. She has found her fountain flowing with unending peace.