Motorcycle trips up the mountain are definitely part of the adventure, according to missionary Michael Hutteman.
Michael and his wife, Amy, are church developers who desire to work with tribal church leaders to see their churches strengthened and to help local churches ensure that sound Biblical foundations will be passed to the next generation and to neighbouring areas of outreach.
“Some of these tasks,” Michael writes, “include leadership development, Old Testament translation, literacy program oversight, education and social development and government relations.”
But some days, ministry takes a different shape.
Michael shares an experience with a co-worker of testing his new bike while making a trip to visit believers who lived high in the mountains. “We hit rain about ten minutes before we started inland. … Two hours into the one-hour trip, we were definitely entertaining some second thoughts.”
Michael says that at one bend, they hit a flash flood flowing down the trail. “In some combination of pushing, dragging, riding and swimming, we would work the bike up to level ground. Then we’d do it again.”
Michael felt accomplished to make it up the mountain and back down “with only minor wounds and a few missing parts.”
This is the mountain setting where God has placed Michael and Amy and their family in ministry for Him. It is a ministry of rebuilding, restoring and strengthening, both in practical daily life and in a spiritual realm.
The Huttemans are hard at work on a 35-year-old log cabin that will be their family’s home.
In years past, these plank structures served as homes, classrooms and medical clinics for pioneering missionaries. “It is amazing that these houses are still standing,” Michael writes. “But even more impressive are the deep and lasting memories that tribal friends have made sitting in the houses in past years.”
“One old church leader sat in the dusty, dirty kitchen area of one home moved to tears remembering and retelling how his journey from darkness to light began in that very spot 30 years earlier,” Michael continues. “We are humbled to inherit, not only strong structures once lived in by missionaries, but even more lasting legacies of sacrificial love and servanthood of those past missionaries and their ministries here.”
Some days Michael and Amy’s ministry looks like sweeping, moving old things, discovering rat habitats and tearing apart things that are rotten and moldy. They daily uncover much in the old plank building that needs repair and restoration.
But as they work, God is encouraging their hearts. “We are seeing some new life around the place. … Just yesterday, we resurrected the communication radio which everyone had assumed was dead for a long time,” Michael says.
And with some DC lights running, he adds that their family can almost imagine now what their little homestead might have once looked like, and what it will look like again once they have finished cleaning and restoring it.
Michael and Amy continue to be greatly encouraged by the energy and dedication that is being invested by the few tribal leaders who have, for many years, shepherded many small fellowships in very rugged and remote mountain locations that are extremely widespread. They long to help these men to carry the burden of leadership and encourage individual churches in developing more local leadership.
“We are challenged to trust God to bring this tribal church into its next phase of growth,” Michael shares. “Our team gets overwhelmed sometimes just talking about what should and could be done to help serve these leaders and we are just starting.”
Pray for the Hutteman family and their co-workers. Pray that God will use them mightily to build his church as they trust His grace to accomplish this great restoration and rebuilding project for His glory.