Academics

“God’s amazing creation in the raw”

By Logan Smith, October 31, 2019

For this online student, the jungles and islands of Indonesia provide unique opportunities to live out the Great Commission

Imagine growing up in a remote jungle without roads, schools, or restaurants. Modern avenues for communication and entertainment are scarce. Solar panels deliver trifling amounts of electricity to fuel lamps and other basic appliances. The closest hospital is a day’s journey.

For many, this lifestyle is unfamiliar and may seem daunting, but for Liberty University student Kian Wild, the remote jungles of Indonesia were the perfect home.

Kian Wild is enrolled under special student status, taking courses through Liberty’s online program while finishing high school.

“Growing up in the highlands was awesome,” Kian Wild, 17, said. “I will always remember my childhood with fond memories. … We lived in the middle of virgin jungle. I enjoyed this because it allowed me to see God’s amazing creation in the raw and go to places where it is doubtful that any person had ever gone before.”

Last year, he moved west with his parents and three brothers to Indonesia’s Raja Ampat islands, a thick, tropical stretch of exotic landmasses surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and the most recorded species of marine life in the world. Here, stronger internet signals provide an opportunity for Kian and his siblings to pursue college degrees online. 

“I do my online schooling in a number of places,” Kian said. “If it is a beautiful day and I can’t keep myself inside, I study on the porch or beach.”

His family’s story dates back to 2003, when his father, Mike, made a humbling decision. He was operating a charter business in Florida and had a young family. But after watching a short documentary about a missionary family who shared their faith to a remote people group, Mike and his wife, Libby, took a leap of faith and joined the mission field.

“This video was my first exposure to the fact that there are many peoples on the earth that have no access to the Gospel and do not have even one verse of the Bible in their respective languages,” Mike Wild said. “I was instantly convicted in my heart of hearts, knowing that I could not remain in the USA where there are plenty of lost people, but all having opportunities to read the Bible, attend a church, listen to Christian radio, watch Christian programming or rub shoulders with Christians in the workplace.”

Mike Wild with members of a Wano tribe

Following four years of missionary training in Florida, the Wild family — now with three sons — relocated to Indonesia, where unscathed jungles and rugged misty mountain ranges painted the landscape. It is home to about 1,500 Wano, the native people group. They live in small, round houses and survive off whatever vegetation sprouts from their gardens. They use basic tools like axes and fire rakes to cultivate the ground.

“(The Wano) live incredibly hard lives,” Kian said. “And the worst part was that they were without the Good News of Christ Jesus. But through all of this, (the Wano) were so sweet and kind to us … a generous people, even though they were poor.”

Kian and his family quickly adapted to the culture, interacting with the Wano daily. They gradually overcame the language barrier, created an alphabet for the Wano’s unwritten language, and began translating the Bible for them. In 2010, the Wild family planted a church in the highlands, the first Christian sanctuary for many Wano.

The four Wild brothers frequently interacted with Wano kids their age, and nature provided a wonderful playground.

“There was never a shortage of fun things to do,” Kian said.

The Wild family, from left: Hudson, Morgan, Libby, Mike, Asher, Kian

According to Mike Wild, although the family saw sickness, suffering, and death among the Wano, his children also learned the value of love and self-sacrifice. They experienced spiritual warfare and saw how God was truly all-powerful and in control. When their family moved to the Raja Ampat islands, leaving a flourishing Wano church to others’ oversight, they began helping a friend with mission work and had new opportunities for outreach.

The Wilds visit America on an eight-month furlough once every three or four years. It was while they were on furlough three years ago that Kian discovered Liberty University. He learned how diverse the student body was, and when he attended a Convocation, he knew Liberty was for him.

The Wild family during their earlier years as missionaries

“I was very impressed with what I saw,” he said. “Since then, I have had several friends go, and the reports I hear are always amazing. I have learned so much from the classes I have taken so far. The professors have all been great, and I love how every class points back to God. Even though a class might have a secular textbook, the professor in his posts is pointing to truth. Online classes can be difficult with being so far away, but Liberty has done a great job bridging that gap. Overall, I’ve had a really good experience.”

The digital communication world wasn’t totally new to Kian when he started classes. He and his three brothers had collaborated with Answers in Genesis, a nonprofit apologetics ministry, to produce a video series about growing up as missionary children in a remote area. Most recently, they have created a YouTube vlog, “Highlands to Island,” which chronicles their lives in Indonesia.

Kian Wild and his brothers use drones to film scenes like this one from their home in the Raja Ampat islands for their vlog, “Highlands to Island.”

“We wanted to make high-quality, clean entertainment that would be fun and suitable for all ages and would give glory to God,” Kian said. “Through this vlog, we want to encourage others in their faith and give awareness for the Great Commission, show good family values, and really exhibit God’s amazing creation that we see here.”

The Wild brothers release several vlogs each month and partner with Answers in Genesis during postproduction. Each video typically garners between 2,000 to 5,000 views.

“My brothers and I saw that there were not many Christians our age creating content that was fun and entertaining, but also had a solid Christian message,” Kian said. “We wanted to make something to fill that void. God has also blessed us with amazing surroundings and an interesting history, so we thought that with these things combined, we could make a vlog that would be unique, and not like many of the other YouTube channels out there.”

Kian recently started his second college term through Liberty’s online program, pursuing a degree in apologetics.

“I have always loved apologetics and science, and working with Answers in Genesis has grown my love for sharing and defending the Gospel,” Kian said. “By earning this degree, I want to obtain a strong foundation in God’s Word and become more able to proclaim it.”  

For more information about the Wild family and “Highlands to Island,” visit TheWildBrothers.com.

For more information about Liberty’s online opportunities, visit Liberty.edu/Online.

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