What a privilege to participate in the Nias Bible Project. I will never forget.
As Indonesian Bibles were printed, an A-team of ministers was assembled. “Pastor, there’s a project for preaching the Gospel and distributing Indonesian Bibles to thousands of students on the island of Nias, many of whom are Muslim. Is that something you might be interested in?” As those words fell on my ears, spiritually, I salivated at the prospect. The Lord supplied the passage through my generous congregation at Bible Way Baptist.
The 33-hour trip was arduous, and crazy things happened during our travel. In L.A., we were already checked in, but one of our team arrived on a later flight and found himself at the end of a line of over 200 people. When a security guard, to whom we had witnessed earlier, became aware of our situation, he escorted the back-of-the-line minister and made him a front-of-the-line minister (the last shall be first?).
For the final leg of our journey to Nias, we actually flew in a “puddle jumper” (small plane) on an Indonesian airline called “Merpati,” meaning “Pigeon.” When we saw white mist oozing from the air vents in flight, we became highly motivated to pay close attention to the flight attendant as she explained how to use the floatation devices. On the ground, we rode in cramped taxis (I’m 6’ 4”). The erratic driving habits of the islanders nearly caused us a cardiac arrest. It didn’t help that one of our cab drivers’ names (I saw it on his I.D. card) was BAMBANG! I’m not making this up! By the time I noticed his name, it was too late to change vehicles. Paul’s writing came to mind (my paraphrase): “in journeys often, in perils in the air, in perils over the water, in perils in taxicabs.…”
From the time we touched down on Nias until we left (3 weeks later), we strove to take advantage of every minute. There was so little time and so much work. We preached the Gospel to thousands of Nias middle schoolers. In cars, on motorcycles, and on foot, we traversed the island, north, south, east, and west. Only God knows how many young people received Christ as Savior through our preaching. At each school we prayed, we sang, we preached. Then we distributed Indonesian Bibles to every single pupil and teacher. For many of the students, what we gave them is the only book in their possession-the only book in their household.
With a stack of Bibles in my left arm, and my right hand holding out the next Bible to be received, I made eye contact with every student. As they stepped up in single file one-by-one, nearly all of them captured my gaze. As they accepted God’s precious Word, in broken English each said, “Thank you, Mister.” Afterwards many heads bowed over the newly received Bibles, reading and pointing at the verses. Then, like a person who had found a treasure, they lifted the Scriptures into the air, grinning and waving their Bibles high above their heads.
One headmaster’s words still echo in my mind: “For those children who did not drown (in the tsunami), these Bibles are a life raft for their future.” Talk about “Rescue the Perishing”! At the headmaster’s words, chills crawled up and down my spine.
Preaching and giving out Bibles to thousands, speaking each Sunday in Nias churches, delivering a sermon at a Nias Baptist Pastor’s Fellowship, giving the dedication message at the laying of the cornerstone of a new church, and meeting so many wonderful Christians on the other side of the world touched my soul. Our host missionaries, Jim Daley and Tom Crawford, were awesome.
The words of my pen are incapable of communicating the sensations, tastes, smells, and environment of Nias. We were 2° above the equator - sweltering heat, draining humidity, dehydrated lips, dizziness, eating pig’s head, dripping sweat, and body cramps as we struggled through jungles to get to schools built in the bush. At the end of every day, I was spent-tired. But it was a good tired. There has always been joy for me in serving the Lord, but on this mission trip, my joy was multiplied.
By God’s grace, in the spiritual life of the island of Nias, we made a historic and significant difference for the glory of Jesus Christ. As a result of my experience, I’m a better pastor with an even greater dedication to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to go into all the world.
I will never forget.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Douglas & Becky Sisson - PHILIPPINES
Mrs Judith Skates - ASSOCIATE - RUSSIA
Brett & Patricia Skillen - MILITARY - GERMANY