I listened intently as Steve and Linda Rosengren shared their story.
It was 1981 while learning the culture and language of the Wana people of the Asia-Pacfic region when tragedy ripped at their hearts.
The Wana people of the Asia-Pacific region were trapped in a worldview that brought death and destruction. Over and over this cycle of life repeated: death, destruction, hopelessness. When Steve and Linda and their co-workers moved into the Wana village, the people were not interested in what they had to say. “When our babies died we burned our houses. We destroyed our gardens. We wailed through the night. We were helpless. We had no hope,” an elderly Wana chief recently recalled. Softly, sadly, he added, “So many of our babies died.” The Wana people needed to focus on keeping the ancestors happy by not breaking taboos.
But babies continued to die. Houses were burned. Gardens destroyed. Wailing dragged on through hopeless nights. The Wana people could not escape this cycle. They did not realize that the message Steve and Linda brought could give them eternal life and hope. They did not realize that God’s message of salvation would deliver them from their world of destruction.
Then one day the Rosengren’s three year old son, Kevin, got sick. The people watched as the mission airplane flew Kevin, Steve and Linda to the city hospital. When they heard Kevin had died, they thought, “The missionaries will never return. Someone will come to burn the missionaries’ house, and we will never see them again.”
But Steve and Linda did return. They continued to translate God’s message into the Wana language. They taught God’s message again. “And this time we listened,” the old chief recounted as he smiled. “This time we believed.”
“Today we worship God and His Son, Jesus. We left our destructive ways and now we live with hope. Our church is strong. But when we look beyond we see other unreached people in our country. We know we need to go and reach those people, just like the missionaries did for us, no matter the cost.”
And they are. The Wana church has sent teams of cross-cultural church planters to four other language groups. This is over and above the outreaches within their own ethnic group. Like the Rosengrens who continue to serve as part of the team today, these families have faced tragedy. They have experienced the death of spouses and children—but with the Lord’s strength, they continue to make a difference for His glory.
In this issue of NTM@work you’ll read about another people group that is no longer unreached, and the amazing team God brought together to reach them. You’ll be encouraged to see that God is multiplying all that you and I do in His name and for His glory.
Executive Director, NTM Canada