Friday, March 20, 2009


Hello to all from the Philippines. This is my third update and one of a different sort. I am staying at the Martin Burnham New Tribes Mission guest house in Manila. Martin is the missionary who was killed during a rescue attempt for him and his wife as they had been held captive by the Abu-Sayef terrorist group that is very active here in the Philippines. His wife Gracia has a foundation with a website worth visiting at Their story is inspiring to say the least.

At this mission guest house are missionaries from New Tribes and other places, but primarily New Tribes. When I got back tonight I ran into a couple staying here, Lance and Laura Ostman. The are missionaries to the Higaunon tribal people on the island of Mindanao, a heavily Muslim area and very dangerous. As it is with New Tribes they went to this tribe that had never seen white people in 1983! Here are some quotes from the people they went to reach;

"Only one person has ever been said to make it to heaven without dying, but he was sent back because he complained that there was no work for him to do there. In many ways, we fear the tee-noo-mah-nun because of what the spirits tell us we have to do, like having to sacrifice our seven year old children to them and going without food for long periods of time. They would have us go on long pilgrimages through the forest in search for a promised pathway to heaven. Many of our ancestors have died during the tee-noo-mah-nun, but we have no other hope."

"We are really scared of sickness because we have so much of it. We do not name our children until they are about 2 years old because we know that they will have constant sickness and be likely to die before that age. Sometimes, in order to obey the taboos, we have to bury our children at birth.

For instance if a baby has its umbilical cord wrapped around its neck at birth, that is a bad omen and the baby must be buried. We have to crush up some ginger root and stuff it down the babies throat and then place it in a shallow grave under the house. We don't like doing this because many times we hear the baby screaming from under the ground for a long time.

"We also have to worship and obey our ancestral spirits because they control every part of our lives."

This was the state of these people when the Ostmans went to them. The reason I write of them is tonight I found out that the completed translation of the New Testament will be finished in the language of these people who when they went there had no language. After 26 years the translation work by the Ostmans and others is finished, and praise God they have 800 people in the village who have requested copies. Twenty six years spent developing a language, learning it, teaching it and translating the complete New Testament. The Ostmans are taking a one week vacation next week, and then they will be seeking where God wants them to go next. Amazing, humbling, inspiring! That is twenty six years well spent in service to the Lord, the fruit of which will be the Word of God to be used for generations until the Lord comes. This should make us all take a look at how we are spending our lives for the Lord!

blog you later
Pastor Tom

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