We did a quick stop in the village of Titirapok, and then made our way to Bilong. Bilong is a border village, and has about 50% Mina and 50% nDo language speakers. Many know both languages. The Mibu and Mina churches have been trying to outreach in Bilong for about 7 years. Though many of the people want to hear God’s Word, several key leaders have prevented an outreach from happening. I did not have high expectations for our reception in this village, but it is the gateway into the nDo language group. After a grueling 1,200 ft climb that required crawling at times because of the steepness, the reception felt cold. I wasn’t sure if I was just imagining it, but Bapake confirmed this.
We stayed in the house of an old friend named Tomas. He used to teach first and second grade in Mibu, and we got to know him some while we were there. His son used to play with Solomon. I always thought they were closer in age, but it turns out he is about 5 years older than Solomon. He’s now married and their first baby was born just a few weeks ago. We had a sweet time catching up, and reminiscing about when we both used to live in Mibu.
The next morning they had a big meeting so they could hear from us about why we were there. First, I read them two letters that had been written back in 2007 and 2008 by other villages in the nDo area who were requesting missionaries. I apologized to them that it taken this long to bring someone to them, but that Zach and Matt were here to determine if one of the nDo villages would be a good place for them to live and teach God’s Word. Zach and Matt shared more details of their ministry, and some about their families.
After our presentation was over, we opened it up to questions. The first man to speak was one of the village leaders. His tone sounded harsh, but as I listened to what he was saying, I began to realize that he was actually giving us the thumbs up to come minister in the nDo language!!! Several more leaders spoke, all of them expressing the same thing. “You guys coming here is the kind of thing we only dream about. You are breaking into history! Though we realize this would not be the best place to minister because we are a border village, we welcome you into nDo, and we are excited about the work that you will do. Please check out some of the other villages and find a place where only nDo is spoken.”
I couldn’t believe it. All those years of trying to get into Bilong, sending delegations from Mibu, only to have them return heavy hearted because of the rejection. And now, an open invitation! This was especially exciting for the Mibu and Mina guys as they have been waiting for the opportunity to preach the Gospel in Bilong.
Praise be to God who opens and closes doors and hearts according to His good pleasure!
Joey and Brooke