Moving into the Wantakian Village

People Group Assessment Is Complete

“As we got out of the helicopter, the Wantakian people were everywhere just waiting to see us and shake our hands,” wrote Jill Sanders on that momentous day. “I think the whole village came. But who wouldn’t come see a helicopter and white men? … Today, we had a big meeting where we signed our land agreement and told them again why we were coming!”

But what did they tell them?

  Missionaries to the Wantakia, and Mike Henderson (thrid), missionary to the Aziana

Missionaries to the Wantakia, and Mike Henderson (thrid), missionary to the Aziana

An Explanation Is Given

How would you have explained it? How would you explain why someone would move to a village across the globe, far from all they knew and understood? How would you explain why someone would want to live among a people whose culture contradicted their own worldview, among a people whose language they did not understand, among a people where they have no familial ties? 

The team to the Wantakians had an answer. Here’s what they told the Wantakian people. They told them that they wanted to:

  • learn their language and culture;

  • teach them to read in their own language; translate the Bible into their own language;

  • teach them the Bible from Genesis to Revelation; and

  • teach them to take the gospel to the rest of their people group and then to the ends of the earth!

But they did more than just tell them that. 

“Next, tribal believers from two different surrounding languages came and supported our talk,” Jill wrote. “They told the Wantakians that missionaries came into their villages and gave them God’s Talk in their heart language, and they shared about the impact it’s had on their lives. They told the people that they needed to help us learn their language, so we can do the same.  

“Hearing these believers talk was my favorite part of the whole trip! We heard talk after of the Wantakians saying, ‘If they would hike all the way over here to tell us this, this talk must be true!’”

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The Work Begins

Then the work began. There were houses to build. There were the logistics to consider when moving three families into the village. And then official culture and language learning began.

The team is already following through on their first promise to learn the Wantakia language and culture. Two out of the six members of the team have completed their formal language study. They have recently attended a translation workshop, and now they are beginning to translate the Bible into Wantakia. At the same time, they are taking all the language data they have collected and are using that to develop the Wantakia literacy program so that they can teach the people to read and write their own language. Having a translation in the heart language and having local readers are two huge steps in their goal of seeing mature churches established among the Wantakia people.

BJ Sanders wrote, “Please pray for us to have good ears to hear [and] for the people to be excited to help us as we say, ‘Can you say that again?’ over and over, and pray for us to keep modelling the life of Jesus to the Wantakians!”