We have been ministering here in the Asia Pacific since 1975 – 37 years. There is a long history. Here is a brief review:
Our first year was spent in the study of the national language. Then our focus became reaching the tribal people who were living in the middle of a large island. They are a group of nomadic rainforest dwellers living at the upper end of mountain rivers. Reaching them and living with them became a very difficult challenge involving dangerous river travel and primitive living conditions. Upon reaching them our first priority was establishing relationships and learning their unwritten language.
We worked as teams and in the beginning our partners were Dave and Jenny Crawford and Mike and Sue Bove. We built an airstrip by hand and established homes. By 1979 and 1980 we felt we had enough language ability and began to present the gospel to these folks. They decided to divide the group. Part of each family would go Roman Catholic and part would study with the Missionaries. This way they could get the goodies from both sides. The issue of truth and understanding continues to be the biggest issue we face. People do not comprehend that there is something to be learned and believed. It takes long-term extensive exposure to the truth before there is understanding and with nomadic people, consistent exposure is very difficult.
In spite of these challenges, people understood and a church was established. We then started translation. About this time we also began to lose our partners. By 1990 we were alone in the tribe. The church was weak and materialism had set in big time. Then the folks in a neighboring village began to respond. We started to concentrate on their interest and moved to another strategic location. We began to concentrate on what we call church networking–the networking of small, weak churches in four tribal language groups. These folks had been evangelized by other New Tribes Missionaries but now their missionaries were gone. They became our focus from 1995 until 2005. We lived in two locations–two complete household set ups. We divided our time between three locations–two tribal locations and the city on the coast as part of the area leadership team.
Meanwhile our kids had grown up and left home. Rachel, our middle daughter, had been teaching school on another island for 8 years. The Lord led her to change careers and finish the translation for the tribal church. We said we would team with her, so we built a duplex for us and her and she trained to do the translation.
Then DJ, our youngest, and his wife decided to join Rachel. So Teresa and I moved again! This time we moved near the regional town center. We have built a mission home and are doing support for two translation teams. There are plans to work in several more language groups in the area. Currently our responsibilities here are:
➢ Continuing church networking by holding regular conferences. There is an activity of some kind every month.
➢ Ongoing discipleship of church leaders.
➢ Developing teaching lessons and helping the church leaders learn to write lessons themselves.
➢ Maintaining the mission home, which we are currently building on an addition.
➢ Buying supplies and logistical support.
➢ Establishing and maintaining relationships with other church organizations in the area.
➢ Continually looking to find new areas the Lord is opening up for us.
– David Searcy
For the latest updates from the Searcys, please visit their blog.
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