“Borneo is an island bigger than the state of Texas, located on the equator north of Australia. I was there near the center that night, in the middle of a river, where I was trying to sleep on a cold, wet rock next to our dugout canoe.
There had not been much rain upriver so the river banks around us were high. My father and I had nearly lost the boat in the rapids, a waterfall, below us. We most certainly were not going back there in the dark. Going up the river, we could no longer see to navigate around the rocks, the ironwood snags or the treacherous rapids in the river up to the tribal village which was our destination.
So there we were, in the dark, in the middle of the river, on cold, wet rocks trying to rest. We were surrounded by dense jungle filled with billions of insects, deadly snakes and many other wild jungle creatures such as leopards, ocelots, monkeys and large orangutans. We had heard rumors of elephants, rhinos and tigers. We knew crocodiles lived in the river but hoped the rapids kept them downstream. We were fifteen minutes away from a second contact with the people of the Da’an river.
The people of this tribe were known for their black magic or sorcery, poisons, feeding people shards of glass and for taking human heads. Headhunters. We were there because we wanted to live among them. We wanted to learn their language and culture so that we could tell them the Good News about Jesus Christ.
We survived that night on the river. The people of the Da’an river invited us to live among them. My father presented the Gospel to some. A team of missionaries carried on the work of church planting when God moved our family on. Today there are Bible-believing churches among them which are led by local people.
Since that day on the river, my parents have worked diligently to mobilize God’s people toward taking God’s Word to unreached people. They have trained many people to work as missionaries. Even today they continue to train new missionaries to carry on the work in remote places.
I trained to work as a missionary bush pilot. The entire two day trip on the river to the Da’an would have been only twenty minutes in an aircraft. Aviation speeds the messengers and leverages effort. As part of a leveraged team of supporting churches and missionaries serving in Papua New Guinea we have seen thirty-eight unreached people groups come to faith in Christ and grow toward maturity.
My younger brother worked with New Tribes Mission sending short term missionary teams overseas for most of fifteen years and then fifteen more years with GoodSeed as a translation coordinator for sending a clear Gospel message out in over 150 different languages.
My sister and her family have worked for 27 years with New Tribes Mission in Northern Mexico where they planted churches among the Pima Indians and continue with training Mexican nationals to reach unreached people groups with the Gospel.
It all started in our living room in Seattle, Washington in 1970 when a Mission Mobilizer named Ken Johnston came to our house. He told us about people in remote parts of the world who had no access to God’s word, The Holy Bible, and no one who could tell them about Jesus Christ in a language they could understand.
Now Diana and I work as Mission Mobilizers. There are unreached people groups; and there are God’s people who are able to reach them with the Good News. There are Christians who will be willing and able to persist in the hard work of building relationships, of learning an unwritten language and of discovering culture to carry God’s Word to them. We work to bridge the gap between the two.
Romans 10 tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God which is carried by messengers who are sent. This is true not only concerning the faith of salvation but also the faith of the obedient walk. About one third of the world’s languages have not a single verse of God’s word in their language and no known believers among them who could pass on the message. Revelation 5:9 shows us that the gap will be bridged. Among many other verses, Matthew 28:18-20 tells us how.
New Tribes Mission was founded in 1942 as a faith mission with a specific focus on people groups least reached with the Gospel. Our objective is to multiply our efforts by planting Bible-believing indigenous churches which are led by their own people, maturing, and reproducing and reaching out to other people and language groups.
More than 100 people groups have asked New Tribes Mission for missionaries to come tell them about God. We simply do not have the people to send.
As Mobilizers our ministry is to find those people whom God is preparing to meet this need. Diana and I attended Perspectives classes in New England and since then have had several opportunities to give presentations to students in Perspectives classes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Our daily lives involve generating new contacts and following up with potential missionary candidates who may reach yet another language group of the people least reached with the Gospel.
We have given presentations or set up booths to talk to potential missionaries at Bible Institutes, Universities, homeschool conventions, churches, missions conferences, Christian schools, AWANA groups, small groups, camps and other places where people gather around God’s values. Representing the aviation team, we have looked for future missionary pilots, mechanics, avionics technicians and supporters at large air shows.
We led a team to New Tribes Mission’s Wayumi camp in Central Pennsylvania. We would love to have you join us for one of the Wayumi events.
We do not know where we may find the next generation of missionaries. We do know that faith comes by hearing the Word of God which is carried by messengers who are sent. As sent messengers we love presenting to God’s people the opportunity to step out in faith to see what He will do as we trust Him. Surely there many other families like ours; full of ordinary people who will trust God and labor with Him to accomplish His purposes among remote people. Please pray for laborers!
In 1943, Cecil Dye and other NTM missionaries spent months hacking a trail deep into dense jungle to make friendly contact with the nomadic people hiding there. Other people who had met these remote people had either taken lives or lost their own. Even officials asked, “Why go out there and risk your lives on those Indians? They are not worth going after. They are just animals.” Pastor Cecil wrote, “It is because the glorious name of Jesus is not known here, and must be made known at any cost …”
Do we put a value that high on the glory of Christ? What values move us? What is our perspective on life? Do they match God’s values? How does our thinking need to change in light of God’s revealed will and His promises set before us? Are His values enough to move us; to make us mobile?