Picture above: Josh with Maliyali team back in 2017.
Since 2017, Ethnos360 Aviation has been serving the team reaching the Maliyali people group. Pilot Josh Verdonck remembers helping them move in, flying them to the closest airstrip in the Kodiak airplane. From there, the helicopter shuttled them into the village. Now, five years later, Josh himself is flying the R66 helicopter to deliver supplies to the team. Every one of those flights has helped to bring the Maliyali to this decisive moment ….
Beginning on August 29, 2022, the Maliyali team taught a series of lessons, starting from the very beginning of the Bible. Actually, they introduced the series with a geography lesson to show the Maliyali the immensity of the planet.
Then from Psalm 8:1-4, they introduced God, bigger than all creation, who cares for them, even though they are just a small group in the vast world.
Day after day, the Maliyali heard the unfolding of God’s Word: who God is, what He created and how some of the angels turned from God and became evil spirits. What a relief to them to hear that “God has the final say/judgment for [the spirits] who have tormented the Maliyali people for so long,” posted David and Emily Rimestad. That was enough for the Maliyali to fall in love with God right then and there!
But then they heard how Adam and Eve fell into sin and that “those born under the line of Adam would be born with sin and into the clan of Satan. … Today was hard for the Maliyali people, and after the lesson many of them were filled with tears,” posted the Rimestads. Oh the joy, though, to hear from Genesis 3:15 that God promised to send the “Road-cutting Man” to make a way for people to get back to God, taking away sin. Who would it be?
They saw the horrible effects of sin, as when Cain slew Abel. One man said, “See, we are all the same. These are
our ancestors, and we are all destroyed because of sin. I am waiting for this Road-cutting Man. You say He will help us, that He can get us back to God. I am waiting for Him.”
And wait they did, as they faithfully came to the lessons. Day after day, they saw the all-powerful God at work. They saw the devastation of sin and the destruction of the world by the Flood. They saw the Ark as God’s sovereign protection of the line that the Redeemer would come through. And they wondered, “What kind of road will God make for us to be rescued from our sin and from going to the created place of fire?”
They heard about the Tower of Babel — how languages were created and people were scattered. But they expressed hope to the team: “You said something today that gives us happiness. Even though He scattered us, we are not forgotten. He is thinking of us still and that is why you have come. He desires to bring us His own message and we are here, hearing it now. Thank you.”
When they heard that Abraham believed God, they wondered, “Will the Road-cutting Man bring us talk to believe? We don’t know. So we will keep coming to hear if He does.”
Story after story, they could see God’s goodness, His provision, His unchangeable character. When they heard the law, they realized they couldn’t keep it any more than the Israelites who strayed from God. But they had hope in the Road-cutting Man: “We will bow our knees … . Is there anyone like Him? No one is like Him.”
Finally, a baby was born in an unusual way. They pondered:
“His name is Jesus. He is the only one through whom God will cut the road in getting people back to Him. Is there any other road? No way.”
Through the story of Nicodemas, they were blown away by a new concept: “God loves me. I have never heard this; this is the first time. And through His love for all peoples He has made one road, Jesus. There are no other roads, it’s just Jesus.”
And when they heard what Jesus did for them — how He “cut the road” through His death, burial and resurrection — many Maliyali looked to the Road-cutting Man and put their trust in Him. May God be praised in Heaven and on earth!