Papua New Guinea (MNN) — When you fly in the mission field for 11 years, you’re bound to witness some of God’s miracles.
Jim Sims, a pilot with New Tribes Mission Aviation ministry for over a decade, shared with us last week about the new airplane that God provided for the ministry
While the story of God’s provision certainly is miraculous, it goes along with the kind of stories that Sims has seen, heard, and experienced during and after his time flying with NTM in Papua New Guinea.
Sims says, “New Guinea is a really interesting country. It’s one of the most diverse in terms of languages which makes it really challenging. In New Guinea alone, there’s more than 860 different language groups.”
While NTM has been successful in reaching isolated tribes in the past with the Gospel, their fleet of airplanes has become inadequate.
NTM has a long-term goal of reaching 50 people groups with the Gospel, and a short-term goal of two years to reach eight people groups with church-planting teams.
The KODIAK airplane is going to be a big part of that. Currently, NTM is raising funds for two more airplanes for PNG.
These superiorly designed mission planes are necessary because the areas where NTM is focusing have no building materials for churches and have no fuel. The KODIAK has a larger capacity for building materials and is more fuel efficient.
Sims says, “The airplane is a tool. And the main reason for us being in there is we’re taking the Gospel to people who’ve never heard and it’s just amazing to know that in the 21st century we still have people who have never heard the name of Jesus even once.”
Their ministry plan works exponentially. Sims says, “We plan, when we go in, to present the Gospel. We present the Gospel to them, and then we help establish what we call a New Testament church.”
The church becomes a self-supporting, indigenous church that works as a hub to connect to surrounding communities.
“The ultimate goal is that we would teach these people in such a way that once a church is established that they will have their teachers and their elders and then they will have missionaries that will go out from their home churches, and they will be reaching these other people, [the] other tribes,” Sims explains.
This has not only been a necessary aspect of their ministry, but a successful one. NTM has witnessed several tribes who, after encountering Christ, adventure to other tribes to share what they’ve learned. What’s fascinating is that they often cross language barriers to do this.
Sims shares that the change seen in one tribe effectively gets the attention of other tribes. One time, a tribal leader came up the river to visit another tribe that had previously been visited by a missionary, asking for what they had that made them change.
“Basically it was the fact that God’s word had been presented up there,” Sims says, “When the tribal people themselves see the change, it’s just amazing.”
Another time, a group of people from a tribe approached some missionaries at the landing strip. One member carried a bag full of money.
They said “We know what this looks like for these other villages, and we want one too, and here’s the money. We want to buy a missionary.”
Unfortunately, the missionaries didn’t have the resources at that time to go to their tribe.
At another village they were able to visit, the tribal chief was adamant that they came in to start a church.
After they started meeting, he was sure to be the first one there, and never missed a meeting.
At one occasion, the missionaries shared some cake with the tribe, a very different food from anything they were used to.
At that meeting, the chief stood up and addressed his people, saying “We’ve never heard anything like this before. We all need to come to this teaching every day. The teaching is like cake that you gave us. I have never tasted anything like it. It is so delicious.”
He was referring to the word of God– something so delicious he’d never tasted before.
The KODIAK has potential to increase these sort of encounters. Hopefully they will prevent NTM from ever having the difficult task of turning down a village that is obviously so hungry for the Word of God.
Sims says, “These airplanes are just a tool to get us out there to present the Gospel to people who have never heard. So, it’s just exciting to be a part of it. And New Tribes Mission Aviation is part of the church-planting team and it’s our privilege to be there to support these missionaries.”
If you would like to support the fund-raising for this new fleet of aircraft for PNG, click here.