25 Years Ago Today!
Dear Friends and Co-Laborers,
I am going to be sharing with you about an event which happened 25 years ago today.
On January 19, 1991, Cheryl, myself and our three children, Leah, Daniel and Joel landed in Papua New Guinea to begin our “official” missionary career. We had spent the previous 13 years getting saved, growing and maturing in the Lord, training to be church-planters in a remote tribal location and then flew to Papua New Guinea to start the task of reaching a people group which had never before heard the gospel of the grace of God. But let me go back just a bit to share the process along the way.
You Can’t Impart What You Don’t Possess!
When Cheryl and I were married, we were not believers. We had grown up in a Christian atmosphere but did not understand that we were lost and needed to be saved. By God’s grace, we believed the message that was delivered to us by friends who cared. As we studied the Word, we became convinced that God wanted to reach a lost world and that we could be a part of that process. We wanted to go where the gospel had not been and so a year after we were saved, we headed to New Tribes Bible Institute to start the process of preparing for tribal evangelism. We loved our time there studying the truths of God’s Word, not just that we would know the Bible better but that we might know God better. It was amazing and a tremendous time of growing in the knowledge of the Lord but we still needed the practical side of maturity. What we needed now were trials.
Knowing Takes Experience
After Bible School, we went on to what we used to call “Missions Institute.” Its purpose was to help us practice what we preach. We continued studying New Testament Church principles and what a NT church looks like. We also were learning to an even greater degree what it meant to live by faith. When the times would eventually come where there were no finances or family or friends to help, who would we be relying on? Who was our sufficiency? While this was probably the hardest part of the training, it was also the most profitable. We saw the Lord work in practical ways, in small and insignificant ways that only the persons going through the trials could discern. And as always, His sufficiency was sufficient. He gave us just what we needed at the time we needed it most.
A Perceived Pause
While we were at the Missions Institute, we had opportunities presented to us to get involved in NTM’s aviation program, so we stepped out of the training and proceeded to get an A&P aviation technician license and also my flight ratings. I received my private pilot’s license in a week as I flew 40 hours that week to get it and then had my instrument rating in a few months.
After we finished our aviation training and paid off some expenses, which took 5 years, we headed back into the training, back to the Missions Institute. Finishing up there, we made a decision to head on to our Language and Linguistic Institute to further our training but while there, a change of course was in store for us again.
On a whim, I decided to go to a Papua New Guinea night in which one of our PNG leaders was presenting the needs of tribal people. That missionary stuck his thumb on a map of Papua New Guinea and said that there were “ten different tribes under that thumb who have never head the name of Jesus Christ.” As the week went on, I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind and so Cheryl and I talked it over and decided to head back to church planting instead of aviation.
Dave Barry, a satirist in news columns, used to have a column that he wrote from time to time called, “Things I learned on the way to learning other things.” I think that this is what happened to us. The Lord used our aviation training to teach us things we needed to learn about ourselves, especially me. It refocused us on what our objectives should be. I never had the desire to be in the aviation program again and it cemented in us a desire to bring the gospel of God’s grace to those who have never heard.
Cheryl and I stayed on staff at our Missionary Training Center for another year and then went through the training again followed by Partnership Development and finally, on January 19, 1991, we landed in Papua New Guinea to start the process of evangelism and discipleship in a remote area of the country.
The Goal Begins
Our first two years in PNG were spent learning the national language, Pidgin English, getting acclimated to the weather, people, food and language. Then we started doing survey work, housebuilding, moving in, learning the tribal language, evangelizing, translating, teaching and discipling the people. It was wonderful and we are so glad that the Lord used unqualified people to bring a message that would qualify them for Heaven.
A Longer Pause
We came home in 1998 to take care of family members which were dying and during that time, NTM asked us to be mobilizers which we have been doing for the last 16 years. Perhaps the Lord will allow us to return and learn another language one day but until that time, we are working at finding as many people as possible to replace us in reaching unreached language and ethnic groups. Or, to put it in words much better suited than mine, “And the things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also.” I trust that we are carrying that tradition on for His glory.
Doug & Cheryl Schaible
National Representative for New Tribes Mission