When we first began living and working among the Loron people in 1987, a young teenager called Dibone [dee-BOW-nay] cleared a building site along a village pathway for us; cutting down brush and small trees, and levelling off a number of termite hills. He helped to make mud bricks and also arranged for a local mason to build our new home.
Looking through hundreds of photographs taken in the village over the past three decades, Dibone’s image regularly pops up. In some he is explaining Loron customs and culture and helping us to learn the language. Other old photos show him at work in his rice fields, weaving straw for his new grass roof, and actively engaged with the village community.
After putting his trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation in the 1990’s Dibone became involved in bringing the Gospel to other Loron villages, and over many years has shown the heart of an evangelist as he has helped to bring many Loron men, women and children to a clearer understanding of the love and grace of God. A few years ago he took on the Christian name, Joel.
Joel is one of three elders in the Loron church and is also the literacy programme supervisor and teacher.
He always had an interest in medical work and was the first Loron person to receive medical training from Marina and the other missionary ladies working among the Loron. When the local authorities opened a clinic in our village and provided a full-time nurse, Joel acted as a translator and assistant to him. He also helped to arrange numerous vaccination campaigns in our village and also in other villages in the region.
Joel indicated to us a few months ago that after much prayer he believed the Lord was leading him into full-time Christian ministry.
As we discussed various aspects of the work with him he showed a deep desire to be involved with continuing to teach and preach the gospel, especially in isolated Loron villages and homesteads. He also said he wanted to do more to help address the literacy needs in the Loron community. He is particularly passionate about using the chronological Bible lessons that have been developed in the Loron language. In the past he has patiently and carefully taught from Genesis right through to the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus to numerous groups of Loron people, who before had no understanding of the Bible or knowledge of what Christ had done for them. We were thrilled to hear that God had been directing him this way.
He has now given up his job at the medical centre and has begun serving the Lord full-time. I know that he would really appreciate your prayers for him and his family as he steps out in faith in order to bring to others the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Joel and Marina training literacy teachers
Visiting isolated Loron village churches with Joel