When Jason and Shirley were ready to work with a tribal group in the early '80s they moved into a Higaonan village and learned the language. They left for a field conference one year totally prepared to begin teaching the people God's story. In fact, they told the tribal people that when they returned they would begin teaching. God had other plans. When they arrived home after field conference their house had been ransacked and everything stolen or destroyed. What now?!
Obviously, they couldn't minister if the people did not want them. They moved to town to decide where they would go next. They were seriously considering going home to Australia, but finally decided they would stay and work in another location. Jason ended up making contact with the Tala-Andig, and the Tala-Andig agreed to be taught God's message.
He returned to town and excitedly told Shirley that in 2 weeks they would move into the tribe-- the tribal people would build them a house and they would take only what they could carry in backpacks. They met some of the tribal folks on the road and followed them into the jungle. The tribal people had made them a house at a sort of crossroads, but they were the only people there as the Tala-Andig are nomadic. Jason & Shirley were totally dependent on the tribal people for food, which they brought every couple of days. However, they only had contact with about 5 families and sometimes only contact with the family that brought them food for several weeks in a row. That first time in the jungle they stayed 3 months before asking the Tala-Andig to lead them to the road so they could return to town for supplies and rest.
When they had learned the language they began preparing Bible lessons and putting them on hand-turn tape recorders which they offered to the people. Only one person would listen to the teaching! That man eventually got saved, but nobody else in those families would even listen to the teaching because they feared the evil spirits they worshipped.
Jason & Shirely left soon after the first man was saved and took a furlough. After furlough the believer told them that nobody in the original group wanted to hear God's message, but he had found a group a few kilometers away that wanted to listen. Jason & Shirley moved and began the process of building relationships again. Several people were saved, then several more.
Now there is a strong church in that location! The Tala-Andig believers go on outreaches to teach other tribal people who still live in the surrounding jungle. The believers run a school, which they opened last year. Four ladies volunteer to teach and students bring bits of food to support the teachers. The church has its own traditional-style music and many people who are faithful leaders and teachers. Wow, God!
One of the things Jason brought out was that it was always God's ultimate plan that they end up where they were, that these people who have believed would hear the Gospel. However, in order to get them there He had to take them to work among the Higaonan where they learned a related language. He stripped them of everything material so it would be a simpler thing to move into the tribe with only what they could carry.
It reminded me of how often we regret our losses when in God's economy those losses are the only way to enormous gains. That fact encourages me as I walk through real life with both joys and sorrows, gains and losses.