Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31, NKJV)
What an encouragement God’s Word is to us!
It was an emotional evening as Jaeden, Levi, and Jace were reunited with Adie. They are looking forward to seeing their daddy in the morning.
This was a good day. Jon was able to lift himself from his bed onto a wheelchair. Adie was able to take him outside to the hospital cafe and they had lunch together. Jon was understandably exhausted after this and slept most of the afternoon.
As Jon continues to recover, we’re able to understand more of the story about the accident and the first few crucial hours of getting Jon to the clinic and then Australia. By all indications it appears Jon’s left foot was actually run over by the car involved in the accident. Many of the details of the crash are still unclear, but what is clear is that there were factors in the crash that all point to Jon not surviving the crash. We thank God that He truly spared Jon from certain death.
We’re hearing from other people connected with the clinic in Papua New Guinea. Dr. Helen said the “critical condition” originally posted was actually an upgrade from his previous conditions. She said at one point that Jon was in “very grave” condition. After one transfusion, he was categorized as being in “grave” condition. After the second transfusion, his condition was upgraded to critical. Who knew “critical” could be an upgrade?!
We are so thankful that Jon survived to testify of God’s grace, power, and protection. Jon & Adie are already facing new challenges in their life with further surgeries and the therapy he needs to learn to walk again. A whole new unexpected and unplanned chapter in their lives is beginning that God will use in ways we can’t imagine.
While no one would have ever chosen this path for them, our good and loving Father God is with them and goes before them to keep and guide them through this as well. While we see loss, setbacks, and discouragement, our heavenly Father will use this to advance His kingdom in ways none of us can even imagine yet.
- That the Lord will go before them with all the emotions that will need to be dealt with on that initial family reunion in the hospital.
- That the doctors will have wisdom during Friday’s surgery as they assess whether or not the muscle is good, or if they will need to amputate more.
- That the wound will heal quickly enough so that foot surgery can be done at the end of the month. The sooner it takes place, the better the outcome for the foot.
“Shout for joy, you heavens;
rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.” – Isaiah 49.13
Every spring when I was growing up my church held a mission’s conference. It was one of my favorite weeks of the year and I particularly looked forward to the Sunday afternoon kid’s program. I collected every prayer card I could get my hands on and was fascinated by all their stories and experiences. I loved the missions conferences and always thought the missionaries were there for our benefit since we were the ones listening to and learning from them.
Fifteen years later the tables have turned. Last week I had the opportunity to participate in North Syracuse Baptist Church’s Month of Missions. I was amazed by my discovery; I gained more by participating in the conference than I could possibly have offered to others. I was overwhelmed by their warm welcome, their kindness in housing me, their home-cooking and hospitality, their interest in my life, their commitment to local ministry, their involvement in world missions, and best of all their passion for the Lord! I left the conference refreshed and encouraged by my brothers and sisters in Christ, many of whom I met for the first time last week!
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There are a number of people out there who would consider your cup of ‘Joe’ as one of the essentials for daily living. It’s amazing what a cup of coffee, or the lack thereof, can do to a person. It warms one from the chill of the bitter cold, it helps to wake up the creative juices of the brain, it makes some people more likeable, yet for others it can serve to calm their nerves, and some would adamantly say that they MUST have their cup of ‘brain juice’ in order to sustain life. We’ll not get into what happens if people don’t have it…that can be downright dangerous.
Though many people would jokingly say that their ‘caffeine infusion’ is what sustains them, for many of the people in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea that is no joke at all. For many, the coffee they grow is their means to paying their children’s school fees, putting clothes on their children, and buying the basics (soap, oil, and salt). Now that there is a shortage of kunai grass which they have used for so many years to roof their grass huts, their coffee is often their means to literally putting a roof over their family’s heads.
Over this last year friends of ours, Stephen and his wife Jenit, have been facing obvious resistance from Satan as they’ve been growing in their walk with the Lord. To add insult to injury, their coffee which was ripe for the picking was recently stolen one Sunday as we were all meeting for church. Stephen is at the point of ‘tapping out’. No, he’s not tapping out on is walk with the Lord. He’s tapping out and asking the Lord to allow him to have a break from the oppression he and his family are facing. As I write this, he is facing the possibility of being kicked off his own land. So, next time you wrap your hands around a mug of hot java and touch it to your lips please pray that God would grant Stephen’s request for a reprieve from the various hardships he and his family are facing. And that he would feel God’s love and strength that would encourage and build him up.
And hidden in plain sight are a variety of people groups: Zapoteca, Mixteca, Triqui and more. People who have held onto their languages and worldviews in spite of constant pressures to assimilate.
As one missionary here said, “The children all say they don’t speak Triqui. But then they grow up and it’s all they speak in their homes.”
Last week, I was part of a team that visited a few dedicated missionaries who are trying to learn the languages and understand the cultures of these people. Their goal is to establish churches among them that can be nurtured to maturity. It’s long, hard work, made all the harder by the number of well-meaning believers who think it’s a waste.
“They all speak Spanish,” many people say. Baja California is dotted with evangelical churches, blanketed with evangelical radio stations and littered with evangelical tracts. Why spend years learning the language of the Triquis and understanding how they think?
Well, for one thing, the Bible tells us to. Our command is to make disciples of all nations – literally, every ethnic group. And as time-consuming and energy-draining and spiritually exhausting as it is, it’s practical. People learn better, and are able to truly be disciples, when they hear His Word in their own language, made clear in the context of how they understand the world.
Think of it this way. I know la Llanterna is not where you buy lanterns. La Farmacia doesn’t have seeds and fertilizer. And la Ferreteria most definitely is not a place that sells ferrets. But that’s where my mind goes first, because English is my heart language.
And there’s more. You make a positive impression on me if you take the time to learn my language, and understand the way I think. I may not comprehend at first that this is the love of Christ, but I can see that you care. In time, I can see that God loves me enough to make His Word clear to me.
In a way, that’s what Christ did. He left His home, lived among us, and died to make this eternal, abundant life available to all. He came to us – to each of us. The only thing He asks us to do is spread His good news – the outpouring of His love – to all the earth.
That’s why our team went to Baja California. The photos and stories we gathered will inspire people to pray, to give, to go – not only in the USA, but across Latin America, as well as in Canada and Europe and beyond. We also encouraged the missionaries. Our presence demonstrated to them that their work is important.
We could not do this without you. Your prayers, your gifts and your encouragement mean a great deal to us. Thank you.
Well, I’d like to say that this is a week that I never want to repeat but in the midst of this darkness, confusion, and pain the light, peace, and love of our Sovereign Father has blossomed in my soul…I wouldn’t trade that for all the comfort, health, or security in the world. This past week has been a tough one for our friends, for us, and for our organization. The best place to start is at the beginning so bear with me as this will be the longest story I’ve ever posted on here.
Three years ago, we met a family at the missionary training center in MO who were also on their way to PNG as a pilot family. Brent and Jon bonded immediately over their common passion for both aviation and taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. Over the course of the past three years our lives have intersected with this family on several occasions, including one week where we stayed with them in a three bedroom, one bath apartment (did I mention they have three kids also?). Anyways, they arrived here in PNG about three months before us and we were so excited to begin this life-long ministry together, flying our bush missionaries in and out of their remote tribal locations. We came to the field with “family” already here; friends who could serve as a source of mutual encouragement, a reminder of what’s really important when things get tough, and a balm for the loneliness that will inevitably strike at times. Their unswerving trust in God’s goodness, their habit of encouraging those around them, and their sweet family dynamic which always challenges us to “try harder,” made us feel really blessed to know this family. Meet Jon and Adie Leedahl.
While this details some of our personal history with them, I’d like to share a bit about the role they served in our organization. NTMA (New Tribes Mission Aviation) has been through a rough time over the past few years. Especially in PNG, where several families have recently been called away from the field and operating costs have made this ministry difficult for church planters to afford. Meanwhile the Kodiak steps on the scene, a new airplane designed especially for missionary aviation. It can carry more passengers and supplies and still land on these short, crooked airstrips for essentially the same cost as the smaller, less efficient Cessna 206. The only problem? NTMA doesn’t have one and we don’t have pilots certified to teach other pilots how to fly them. So as an organization we started praying and trusting that God would provide a way for NTMA to operate with Kodiaks in PNG, so our church planters can continue to get affordable flight support in their remote locations.
Enter Leedahls. Jon’s extensive aviation experience made him the perfect candidate to start up this new flight program with the Kodiaks. Another mission organization here in PNG agreed to train him on one of their Kodiaks so that he could then come train new NTMA pilots like Brent. So Leedahls came to the field in March to begin the training, even though NTMA still owned NO Kodiaks. It was a huge step of faith, not just for them, but for NTMA. Since then, through nothing less than a miracle from God, TWO Kodiaks have been donated for the PNG field. This is no small thing – we also came to the field with no clear assurance, other than the direction of God, that there would be a plane here for Brent to fly. Together with the Leedahls we breathed sighs of relief and cheered with joy when we heard about the donation of these aircraft. It was confirmation the Lord’s hand was on this program and even more specifically on our own lives and ministries, validating the steps of faith we had all taken in the past year.
Even though the Leedahls were living at another organization’s center for the time being, we saw them about once a month (they christened our guest rooms) and we would frequently discuss what it would look like in another few months when they got to move here permanently. Brent and Jon also had several conversations about what it would be like to fly here in PNG, fulfilling lifelong dreams together (Adie and I would make ourselves scarce whenever the technical talk started =)). Given all this history, especially with NTMA at large, you can understand when I say, if anyone should have had divine protection on his life, it was Jon Leedahl. Without him, all of God’s miraculous provision would be for naught, and certainly God wouldn’t allow that!
But who can know the mind of God and who has given him council? Not I, not Jon, not NTMA leadership. Because one week ago, we got a call saying Jon had been in a motorcycle accident on the way home from work. WHAT?! Ok, at first, this response had nothing at all to do with NTMA and all the miracles and all the certainties we had assumed from these miracles. At first, our hearts sank because our friend, our brother, was seriously injured. We spent the whole first night praying and calling periodically (remember they were living at a different organization’s center), as Adie waited by her husband for morning to come so they could medevac to Australia (ironically this is one of the crucial roles Jon and Brent would be filling for NTM with the Kodiaks). At one point we were beseeching the Lord to spare his life as his blood loss was becoming life threatening. Through a number of blood donors, the Lord sustained Jon’s life until they could get to the Cairns hospital nearly 18 hours after his initial injury.
Now, this is not about us, but let me just interject that one of the most difficult places to be when a loved one is going through something like this, is in a position where you are helpless to do anything but pray. That first night, while Jon remained in PNG battling for his life because the clinics here are just not equipped to handle an injury of this magnitude, was one of the longest nights of our lives. All we could do was pray and I was frustrated beyond anything that all I could do was pray. “But Lord, we would do ANYTHING for them! I’m the same blood type, I could donate blood. We love their kids, we could watch their kids. We have VISAs for Australia still, we could go with them to Australia”…but at every turn the Lord had other people in place to better meet these needs. So we got to pray…but we got to pray! Since when did talking to the Creator of the Universe, the Creator of Jon’s broken body, become an “all we get to do”? I don’t know, but it taught me something, a big, humbling something, about my warped view of prayer. Lord, help me.
Anyways, the details become less important as we move along in this story, but in the end, doctors in Cairns had to amputate Jon’s right leg up to his thigh and his left knee and foot have sustained several torn ligaments and broken bones. On an ordinary day, with an ordinary event (going home from work) that should have been forgotten as soon as it happened, our friends’ lives changed course for the remainder of their time here on earth. Not just because some driver couldn’t stay on his side of the road, but because God, the Maker of miracles, the Orchestrator of all things, allowed it to happen.
At first, we mourned in disbelief. This didn’t really happen, right? Our hearts hurt, they’re heavy with grief but we’re just imagining, right? Next week they’ll come stay at our house again just like we planned last week and we’ll talk all night and then kick ourselves the next morning when six kids are running around and all us adults can barely keep our eyes open. And next year, when they come here, Jon and Brent will drive to the airport together every morning and talk about their upcoming flight and then at the end of the day they’ll come home and will still be talking about their flight to the point that I will call Adie and say, “Why don’t you just bring the boys over for dinner because the men are at it again and you might not see your husband otherwise?” And then we’ll sit at the dinner table smiling at each other while “the men” talk about things that we don’t understand. This is still going to happen, right? Right?….Right, God? Um, God, you there?
But then, this is where the really cool thing happens. This is where the thing, the something that makes all this worth it, happens. GOD COMES. He shows up! In the middle of your heart, in the depths of your soul, in the valley of your spirit, he shows up! And he whispers, ever so gently, “I’m here. I’ve always been here. Sometimes it takes some darkness in life to be able to see my light. It takes some uncertainty and confusion and even fear in life to be able to sense my peace. It takes some knock-you-down-to-your-knees-and-struggle-to-take-a-breath pain to feel that I love you….And it takes some helplessness, some downright helplessness, for you to KNOW THAT I AM TRUSTWORTHY.” And this, my friends, is where it all becomes worth it. When God meets you in the depths – in those scary, painful depths – something changes in how you view life, how you view yourself, and how you view Him. Because suddenly, you’ve not just read about how he’s like a Father and how he cares for his people like a Shepherd cares for his little lambs but you’ve experienced it. Felt it. Known it. And suddenly everything becomes okay…I mean, it’s not okay. It’s not okay at all. Something very big has happened here and our friends are at the beginning of something hugely difficult but it’s okay because God, the Great Unchangeable I Am, has come and poured light, peace, and love upon our souls in a very intimate way.
Adie, my dear, sweet, always-makes-me-smile friend has written on their blog that when she went before the Lord and asked what we all would ask: “WHY?!” God said, “I have a BIG plan.” This doesn’t tell me much but it does tell me that in the same way God has been meeting me in this darkness, he’s been meeting her and Jon. But of course he would! She and Jon are his children, his flock, his bride and if he loves me enough in this to meet me – little, old me whose only job it is to pray – then, of course, he will be loving and sustaining and comforting my friends who are in the middle of the storm.
And in this too, is a reminder about what really is important. Brothers and sisters, remember – remember without having to go through shock and grief – that it is not about this life. It isn’t! Satan’s most successful ploy is to distract us with what color to paint our walls, what car should we buy, what kind of food should we feed our kids…what small group to join. But this is not why the Bride of Christ is still on the earth. We are here to point all people to the ONE. The One who made us, the One who died for us, and the One who eagerly waits for us to come home so we can be united with him forever. Jon may not be able to fly a plane in PNG, but long ago God put it on his heart that getting His name to the ends of the earth is the most important job any of us could ever have. And guess what? It doesn’t take two legs to do that. And guess what else? He and Adie, in their attitudes about this tragedy and all its implications, are already pointing to Christ. They are already, a powerful witness that God is real, that God is loving, and that God is trustworthy.
I’ll get off my soapbox now but please, if you’ve made it this far in the post, please pray for the Leedahls. Pray that God will continue to meet them in their valley and that he will pour peace, comfort, and hope into their hearts. Pray for healing for Jon’s other leg so that he can be up and about again. Pray for their emotional health as they process through these events. Pray for their sweet, sweet boys that they can bring hope and joy to their parents in this time. Pray for my dear friend Adie: of all the women I know, this beautiful little lady has the God-given patience, grace, and love to carry her family through a time such as this.
Secondly, pray for the flight program here in PNG. There are a lot of decisions to be made and a lot of trusting God to be done. Pray for leadership to have wisdom and for the rest of us to have faith, knowing that our good God has a plan…a BIG plan.
Jon and Adie are very encouraged by all those who have praying, sharing Scripture, sending messages, and giving financial support.
Praise God that the paperwork allowing Jaeden, Levi, and Jace to be brought to them from Papua New Guinea has been completed. In the next few days, the Jagt family will accompany them to join Jon and Adie.
Jon will need surgery again on his leg on either Thursday or Friday. The last surgery went well, but there is need to wash out the wound again and decide whether more muscle needs to be removed, or if they can close up the wound. His hemoglobin levels are rising nicely; this is a good step in the right direction.
He has begun physical therapy for his upper body. An MRI will be done tomorrow to assess the ligament damage to his left knee.
If all is going well, then the plan will be to operate on his left foot on October 31st. The earlier he has this surgery, the better the outcome for foot function.
- Wisdom for the doctors as to whether or not to remove more leg.
- Physical and spiritual strength for Jon and Adie.
- Insurance and hospital paperwork will be completed without any complications.
- For Jaeden, Levi, and Jace to arrive safely into the arms of Jon and Adie.
Important: Jon & Adie are requesting no calls or text messages at this time. If you would like to send them an email or note of encouragement, they would appreciate that, but we need to respect their privacy at this time. We will continue posting regular updates as they come available. Thank you for your patience and for respecting their wishes.
Tags: Jon and Adie Leedahl, Jon Leedahl, Jon Leedahl NTM, Jon Leedahl Papua New Guinea, Missionary Aviation, missionary aviation PNG, new tribes mission, New Tribes Mission Aviation, ntm, Papua New Guinea
One of my fellow missionaries here in the Madang region happens to be pretty good at a few slight-of-hand “parlor tricks.” You know, the kind where you make a coin disappear and then reappear out of thin air?
Well, I’ve always thought those types of things were pretty cool, so the other day while we were both out in a nearby village visiting with a small cluster of guys in the shade, I said, “Hey Noe (He’s Hispanic. You pronounce his name like “Joey,” but with an “N.”), why don’t you show these guys one of your tricks?” (He had just finished telling the guys a few moderately lame riddles, so I thought this might help liven things up a little.)
It took a little prodding from the rest of the group, but he finally agreed to do a couple. He took a coin out of his bag, showed it to the group, did a few stretches to limber up, and then showed everyone that the coin had vanished from his hands. He continued talking for a little bit, but was then overcome with a coughing fit, which culminated with him hacking out his 20 Toa coin (though his hands had never gone anywhere near his mouth).
I hadn’t seen him do this one before, so I was fairly impressed – especially because I had been trying to watch carefully. When the coin launched out into the dirt, I let out a laugh of surprise…and I was the only one who did. I looked around and saw that the other 8 guys were all sitting rigid and silent, looking back and forth between Noe and the coin.
Seeing that it was a tough crowd, Noe picked up the coin and tried again. This time, he vanished the coin and proceeded to pull it out of one of the guys’ ears. Now the group was shifting awkwardly.
“Want me to pull it out of your ear next?” he asked a guy sitting near the front of the group. The young man slowly reached over and grasped the handle of his machete. “No thanks.” He said.
“Hmm.” I thought. “This isn’t going quite like I thought it would…”
And then it occurred to me: Even though we had told them over and over that what Noe was doing was just playing around, they weren’t believing us. Their worldview was too strong in this area for them to think outside of their culture’s predetermined boundaries. Noe wasn’t an amateur illusionist, he was a kukarai.
From what I’ve been able to figure out, a kukarai is what we in the West would probably refer to as a “witch doctor.” They are kind of a big deal around here. A kukarai claims to have great power in the spiritual realm and makes his living performing rituals to heal sickness, curse enemies, and bless gardens. One of the more common manifestations of a kukarai’s power is his ability to “pull” disease or sorcery from another person’s body without breaking the skin (often the disease will have the form of a rusted nail or a piece of bone, or something).
As far as these guys were concerned, my friend had just proven that he had direct access to the underworld, and all powers therein. (And THAT’S the reputation that we’re over here trying to get, right?) Great.
So, it was a bit of a bust on the “positive testimony” front, but it was a good experience for us to get an idea of just how entrenched our friends are in their current thinking, and how what’s “no big deal” to us can, in fact, be a VERY big deal to them.
[Don’t worry though, in the end, Noe was able to diffuse the tension by assuring the group that he “wasn’t going to eat any of them.”]
We intended to spend this section of our update sharing with you a little bit of how our finances work (being members of a faith-based mission). But before we got the first line typed, something happened that re-directed our thoughts.
One of our pilots-in-training, Jon Leedahl, was in a severe motorcycle accident that required him to be medevaced outside of Papua New Guinea to northern Australia (Cairns). His left leg has several torn ligaments and broken bones in his foot. Unfortunately his right leg sustained more damage and had to be amputated just above the knee.
You might recall that we mentioned the Leedahl family in a previous update. Jon has been training to fly the new Kodiak airplane here in country with Wycliffe/SIL.
Many of you have been praying and we ask that you keep it up. He still has several surgeries and a long road of recovery ahead of him. Please also pray for his wife, Adie, and their three boys as they face this major re-direct in their lives. We are thanking God for sparing Jon’s life and looking to Him for comfort and direction.
This month has been a stretch for me in a couple ways. I was asked to fill in for 2 weeks of teaching devotions to the Baptist Haiti Mission campus workers each morning at 8 o’clock. Fortunately, we had just finished translating the 10 basic doctrines which we teach in grades 1 & 2 into Creole. So I decided to teach these doctrines – which come with questions and answers – for the 10 days of devotions, adding a chronological Bible story to each doctrinal theme. That way, I am able to mostly read the Creole stories Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »