Jim and Rachel have been waiting patiently for the Lord to open the doors for them to move into a new location in the Asia-Pacific Region. Finally the leadership team and Jim were able to make that first trip to the island. The team for the new work is made up of Jim and Rachel and two other families.
Jim commented on that first planned trip: “One of the biggest obstacles to moving forward with our plans to move out to our target village has been working out an agreement with the main religious organization that has influence over the specific area we are looking at. To move forward without that agreement would be inviting much more opposition down the road, so we have been waiting patiently for their response to our proposal.”
After flying to the largest island of the chain, the plan was to find a vendor in the market whose home was on the island in question. First stop, though, was the police station to report in and let them know the plans to visit the smaller island. Jim shared a God moment at the police station. “After listening to our plans, the local police chief called for one of his officers in the back and said, ‘You are from that island, right? These men want to visit there; take them down to the port and arrange a boat.’ Just like that our plans were made. Even better, the police officer decided to clock out and take us to the island himself, even inviting us to stay the first night in his uncle’s house.”
Their trip to the island was in a 16-foot long fiberglass boat with twin 40-hp motors which could make the journey in two fairly gentle hours if the sea were calm. It took them two and a half hours — still safe but not exactly gentle. The island is about seven miles long and almost two miles wide at the widest point. Most of the island is tropical jungle, bisected by a thin trail connecting the two coasts.
“We stayed four nights total, making our way by foot to each village on the island,” Jim continued. “As we went, we spoke with anyone we came across and made sure to visit with the heads of each village. We explained about the type of work our organization is typically involved in and our desire to determine whether this location would also be an appropriate place to send a team. The reception was extremely positive. The island people are very worried about losing their heart language as their kids grow up and begin to prioritize the national language. They loved the idea of having the Bible and literacy tools in their own language and expressed joy that an outsider was taking interest in learning to speak it.
“The local church situation in this region is quite complicated, making our team journey to build houses and live on the island highly dependent on a degree of cooperation with the main religious denomination present in the area. Because of this, we have waited over a year for the proper permissions to come through that allow us to make a return trip to the island. Last week our team finally received an official invitation to move forward and to start working on those logistical details like house locations, supply possibilities [and other issues]. We are so thankful for this letter!”
Pray for Jim and Rachel as they proceed with plans for other trips to the island, developing relationships and seeing God move them to His chosen location.