One by one they’re stepping out… from local churches, from Bible colleges and Bible institutes. They are young couples, families, single men and women. They are dedicated individuals from all walks of life, stepping on faith to obey the command of Christ to make disciples among the nations.
It’s been enthralling for us to see fruit for our labors, having spent these last 15 years beckoning believers to take God’s Word to unreached peoples. …But it’s not all been encouraging. At times our work has been downright discouraging, especially when we see folks responding to the call of God, only to have their passions squelched by well-intentioned believers who discourage them from going.
“Stay here… we’ll invest time & teaching to assure you’ve really heard the call of God.”
“Look what you’ll be missing out on if you go there; stay here, make a name for yourself.”
“You have a good job. Why not let others go and you stay here and support them?”
Our work is difficult enough; the enemy of our souls convincingly tells us to ‘leave the unreached alone… they’re happy the way they are.’ Are they, really? What if we were living in their destitute condition… would we not want someone to bring the gospel of Christ to us?
We’ve poured our lives into preaching the constraining love of Christ and the ‘go’ of the gospel which still motivates ‘called ones’ to become ‘sent ones.’ I wonder how many unreached people will remain unreached as a result of someone discouraging another from going?
As we survey new areas where the gospel’s never gone I ask myself, “Why has no one ever come here?” Is it really all that hard to reach these people? Sure it takes special skills and specified training, but we and others can provide that.
Could it be that those who resist the hardest actually may be the very ones God is calling onto the harvest fields of the world? We object with “Oh, I couldn’t go there!” or “I don’t have what it takes.” –Like God isn’t capable to prepare us for the work He’s given us to do. If he could take a band of crusty old fisherman and a rowdy tax collector to turn the world upside down in his day, then surely we should make ourselves available to His command. …Or is it that we don’t want to?
I had my ‘don’t-want-to’ challenged many years ago. It was at a time when I was in the work-a-day world, building air conditioners at a day job and reaching people in my community for Jesus in the evenings. That was good, so I thought, until I considered what value an air conditioner would do someone destined for hell. Moreover, I came face to face with the question “Am I really obeying the command to make disciples among the nations?” That really jarred my thinking.
The more I read of scripture the more I began to realize the immensity of the job. There were millions who needed to hear about Jesus. But we were just one couple; what difference could we make? We didn’t have a lot of money to send others, but we did what we could… and we prayed!
And amid our praying and serving we sensed the personal responsibility to go. What? Us? Go? Go where?
We didn’t even think about those questions when we realized the command to make disciples was to all believers. Sure, we were doing that here, but there were lots of people doing that here and so few going ‘there.’ We knew we couldn’t stay here; we had to go there… wherever ‘there’ was. I think the Apostle Paul gave us a clear window into the heart of God when he told how he strived to preach the gospel in regions where the message never had been declared. That’s where we wanted to go… but it would take specialized training.
After extensive research we found that NTM was one such group going to unreached peoples. Then we learned just how isolated these unreached people were; it was shocking. But shocking as it was, we knew they needed to hear about Jesus. We felt privileged to be among those who would tell them… but we needed training.
NTM was able to provide the tools we needed for missionary work –a biblical foundation, New Testament church planting principles, and a boatload of language & cultural acquisition skills and lots of practical insights. It was intense.
It was during our training days that I realized this was an investment of our lives, not for any return we would receive, but the bringing of souls to leave at the feet of Jesus. We did a lot of reading and research about areas of the world without a gospel witness. Somehow the Lord pressed upon our hearts the country of Papua New Guinea. A country only the size of California, PNG has more than 860 languages. At that time, more than half of them remained unreached with the gospel. …So that’s where we went to serve.
Today, many of those language groups are still unreached with the gospel, although NTM has made it their business to reach as many as possible. That work carries on there today and in other regions of the world where the gospel has never been declared. It’s a bit staggering to think that there are still some 2,500 people groups who never heard the gospel, never held a Bible, and what’s most sad to say is that they don’t know Jesus.
We’ve been at this work a long time and it still thrills our hearts to receive news that yet another tribe has stepped from their darkness, into the marvelous light of the gospel –from death unto life. But many more die while waiting to hear. Is it their fate to face eternity with no hope and without Christ? …Or is it my failure to be obedient to the command?
We’ve been given a job to do. Somebody’s gotta’ do it. Who’s it gonna’ be?
This job of getting the gospel to people who never heard of Jesus weighs heavily upon our hearts. We go to sleep at night in a comfy bed with clean sheets and clean hearts, knowing full well as believers in Christ, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. But we know of countless tribesmen who would trade all the clean sheets in the world, if they had them, for the assurance of eternity with Jesus. But clean sheets don’t buy clean hearts. Only the liberating message of the gospel can change them. …And that’s a story worth repeating.
Thanks for listening to my heart.
Dave Hilt, Nat’l. Rep for NTM
I sat warily watching the contents in the bowl I was holding.
Although it tasted just fine, it appeared to be moving! What???
No, it wasn’t melting ice cream. …And it wasn’t Rice Krispies going ‘snap, crackle, pop.’ It was a bowl of what I thought to be fresh yogurt. –It was fresh alright, but why was it moving? Was I seeing things?!
Well, the bowl of yogurt I was holding turned out to have a very active culture.
Culture; it’s the element that gives life to actions. –That’s my own definition of the word.
But wait a moment, I’m not talking about the kind of culture we put into the things we make to eat; I’m talking about culture from the standpoint of human behavior and actions.
Culture is worth watching and observing and studying.
As missionaries, we make notes about it, we analyze it, and we dig deep to know all we can about particular habits and traits people exhibit in their day-to-day practices. Why did they do that? What does it mean? For what purpose does a particular action serve? These are some of the questions we ask as we get acquainted with ‘foreign’ cultures. Learning about other cultures can be an eye-opening experience. …And it’s a key factor to understanding language.
The connection between culture and language has been noted as far back as the classical period and probably long before. The ancient Greeks, for example, distinguished between civilized peoples and bárbaros “those who babble”, i.e. those who speak unintelligible languages. The fact that different groups speak different, unintelligible languages is often considered more tangible evidence for cultural differences than other less obvious cultural traits.
New Tribes missionaries all around the world are engaged in an effort to understand the worldview of the people they desire to minister to by studying their language and culture. Our current newsletter will give you some deeper insights about the importance of understanding other cultures and peoples’ belief systems so that we can clearly communicate the message of the Bible in a way that it will be understood by the hearers.
The next time you grab a yogurt from the fridge make sure it’s not moving. …And take a moment to pray for the missionaries you know who are working to understand the language and culture of a particular group. –Just a little reminder that you, too, can have an effective part in advancing the gospel to the lost.
Thank you for your prayers and gifts of support to our ministry.
…And thanks for giving us the opportunity to serve in missions.
Yeah, the hole thru the nose is funny but it’s a reality of animism that binds such dear people in spiritual darkness. This is actually Dave’s PNG ‘papa’… now with the Lord. You’ll get to meet him one day if you know the Lord Jesus as savior.
Our ministry travels as representatives for New Tribes Mission bring us face to face with many facets of missions focus among local churches. One such church that we’ve serviced several times this last year left a huge impact on us from the moment we walked thru the doors.
Scattered along corridors and in hallways throughout the church are large framed art pieces hanging on the walls. Each one bears a colorful portrait of a supported missionary and a brief overview of their ministry. Next to each framed piece is an attractive literature holder with current news updates. There’s another holder with pre-addresses stamped envelopes to encourage church members to write to their missionaries, and still another holder with current printed prayer requests. That kind of encouragement, to a missionary, goes a long way –like saying “sic em” to a dog.
Not only does the decor of the church scream ‘missions interest,’ it is also echoed on the cover of the church bulletin as well as the sign on the lawn. Inside, people chatted about the latest prayer requests from the regions beyond, or passed along items of praise received through weekly correspondence with their missionaries. We were awestruck by such focused vision!
Down the hallway we could hear children singing mission-themed songs. In a nearby classroom teens gathered to plan a mission’s trip, while adults met in prayer for missionaries traveling out to a local outreach that day.
Sunday school started with a focus on the particular mission’s goal of the month and a video/phone call to one of their overseas missionaries. The worship hour included a report of a recent missions venture, and the commissioning of a member, a nurse, going out on a short term trip. Even the music carried the theme of reaching the world with the gospel. The Bible message ‘The Walk of the Believer,’ also included a stimulating mission’s challenge. –Little wonder that this church has sent out so many missionaries.
While the Bible has a lot to say about reaching lost people with the gospel, we believe that missions’ vision is caught, not taught, though it needs to be taught. –We’ve been to places where it isn’t taught at all; therefore, it is not caught.
Our message in recent months has centralized on the element of prayer in missions. Those praying (Matthew 9:38) are the ones going (Matthew 10:1). We trust that many more churches will make the Great Commission a priority of worship. …And in so doing, we can speed the gospel to the unreached peoples of the world.
Isaiah’s life-changing encounter with God, recorded in Isaiah 6, was prefaced by the song of the seraphim crying "Holy, Holy, Holy; the whole earth is filled with His glory" …and then followed by God speaking with himself in asking "Who will I send, and who will go for us?"
But God was not calling Isaiah specifically. Isaiah, intensly atuned to his sinfulness before this Holy God, confesses his sin and moves forward in answering this general call to serve by saying "Here am I, send me."
Two thousand years after the crucifiction & resurrection of Jesus Christ, from the grave, the cclear ommand of Matthew 28:19 & 20 still resounds today "Go into all the world and [as you are going] make disciples (followers) of [from among] ALL nations and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." …yet we’ve failed to follow His command because we say we have not been called. –But why do we need a call when we have a command?
There are still thousands of language groups who have not heard the good news of the gospel. Is it their fate or is it our failure to go to them with this life changing message?
Someone said "When men are heathen by choice that’s their business… but when men are heathen by no choice, that’s OUR business." Many people today do not like the word ‘heathen’ but that’s what God calls those who are without Christ. We desperately need to reach ALL lost men, women, boys & girls with the gospel of Christ so that they too can experience the satisfying life we have in Christ.
The Apostle Peter says that we can hasten our Lord’s return by heralding forth the life-giving message of the gospel. What a delight to know that WE can be involved in doing this.
Isaiah heard a call that really wasn’t intended for him but he went anyways. –We have a command to go and an invitation to hasten the return of our Lord through our witness, and still the world has not been reached. What is it going to take to get us moving?
It is our desire to see every evangelical church in equipping and sending forth those who will make disciples of all nations. We are here to assist that purpose in our role as mission mobilizers with New Tribes Mission, and we want to help you in any way we can. We are here to assist the local church with missions vision so feel free to contact us. Maybe we can help you send those who will go… for Jesus sake.