The Amdu people inhabit an enormous territory of mountainous jungle that takes weeks to cross on foot. A week of hiking to our east, the mountains become hills and the jungle gives way to grassland where you can see for miles. The people who live there had contact with outsiders before the Amdu people did. Looking our direction they told the outsiders, “those are the tree people.” The name stuck but it wasn’t the name the Amdu people gave to themselves or to their territory.
The Amdu people use the names of their water sources and topographical features to identify their villages and hamlets. There are also clan names that bring social cohesion to the host of Amdu families. These are names that tie them to the piece of earth that they can claim ownership of. These names give them confidence to be Amdu; not what the outsiders call them.
From the inception of New Tribes Mission the name has been the banner under which countless missionaries have confidently gone out as God’s ambassadors to the least reached people groups of the world. It was a name we gave ourselves; not something that outsiders used to describe us. And it pointed to the heart of God’s love for all nations.
For various, good reasons Ethnos 360 is New Tribes Mission’s new name. It’s a good name. It also points directly to this heart that God has for all people groups around the globe; that they be reconciled to him. It’s a name that will give many more generations of missionaries a banner under which to confidently minister the message of reconciliation to the steadily diminishing group of least reached nations on the earth.
Do you have a name that ties you to the earth in a way that will impact eternity? The Amdu people don’t. Not yet! But soon they will have the opportunity to change their names and a new identity will give them confidence to live out their lives in this world pleasing their Creator.
Thank you for sticking with us in our ambassadorship here in Amdu. Our days are filled with conversations that show us we’re nearing our goals of culture and language fluency. Pray that we will be patient to allow our tongues to catch up with our minds as we continue down this last stretch to August and our final evaluation.
We have three major research projects to finish before the end of August. One has to do with the way the Amdu language works at the discourse level. How is a good story told? How are exhortations made? Most importantly, in a teaching scenario, what devices are used to make a point clear and memorable? This is called our Discourse Analysis. The findings of this research will equip us in our translation efforts considerably. We are committed to having our research report written up by the end of May.
The second project we’re working on completing is an Amdu culture file. This is a catalogue of descriptions made by our Amdu friends about every area of their lives from planting sweet potato, to why they carry a magic pig tusk around with them. This compilation represents the bulk of our time spent with the Amdu people in their homes, gardens and everywhere in between. It will be an indispensable tool for us when we begin writing Bible lessons in the Amdu language, helping us to contextualize the Word of God effectively.
Once this catalogue is complete (not exhaustive) we will tackle our third project and that is writing a report describing how the Amdu people answer Life’s hardest questions. The ultimate questions that have to do with origin, life after death, purpose etc. This is not just a report of what our Amdu friends believe, but an exercise in identifying where the greatest resistance to God’s Word will likely occur. We need to hand all this in before or by August so that we can have our last evaluation.
Can you pray with us for determination and insight as we analyze good Amdu examples of each of the types of discourse. Pray for curiosity and keen observation to see and hear those subtleties of Amdu culture that are most important for us to understand. Pray that in all of this effort we would continue to rely fully on the Enabling One and not slip into the feeble thinking that comes from relying solely on our talents and natural abilities.
It is our privilege to be here and a part of the Amdu nation coming into right relationship with God. The value of your faithfulness to us in giving and praying cannot be estimated. If you would like to know more about the name change our mission has chosen, go to www.ntm.org. There are links there that will take you to pages and pictures that will not only clarify, but will rekindle God’s passion for all nations in your own hearts.
Benjamin and Missy Hatton
Amdu People, Papua New Guinea