When tribes beg for missionaries to come


By Mark EllisNTM waiting

At New Tribes Mission (NTM), they collect many letters from indigenous people groups in Papua New Guinea pleading for missionaries to come and tell them about God, people earnestly seeking truth amidst the uncertainty of death and the afterlife.

The following letter was sent by Aiben Awanhi of Isahu Village and received by NTM a few years ago:

“Yes, I am writing because I have some thing with you ones. I have a big worry that I am not sure what will happen when death comes. I have heard from the other tribe that has the mission that they know now, I am sorry for myself that I do not know. I worry for my life, so I am asking that you will send the mission to my village.

“The men and women of Isahu village we are very hungry for this talk that it will be in our bellies. Please have pity on us. In all other places of the ground we have heard that they have the talk of God but us ones of Isahu are still standing without, we have nothing. I have heard of others hearing this talk in other villages but this talk is not in Isahu yet. So please send some to learn our language and teach us this talk so we can know it too.

NTM moionabout“Please have pity on our lives, we don’t know what will become of us when death is on us. So I am asking with a big strong request that you will come to us and teach us of this talk. This is the road that I have heard will be heard, that is why I have sent this letter to you bossmen of NTM. Our language is not hard here in Isahu, please come.”

And a follow-up letter:

“I want to notify you that now I have an illness. I am the man writing this letter to you. I have come down with a big illness and this illness of mine is saying such now that I do not know where death will take me. I am really concerned for myself. If I get the head talk and the beginning talk (the gospel teaching) then it will be alright with me. I often see people go to church because the talk of God came to them. But I do not have, it has been this way since before. How God exists, I do not know…All of us men and woman of Isahu desire missionaries to come to our place of Isahu.”

Here is another letter from Jaspe of Weku village:

“Yes I am writing to the bossmen that are in NTM, I am checking again about the letters I have written. What’s going on with your thinking? I think you are getting tired of the letters we have written. You must be thinking like this, the road to hear the talk of God it is just for you ones, that’s why you haven’t sent anyone to us in Weku.

“Please, we are hungry for the true talk, we are not saying this with two mouths. Our thinking really desires to know this talk. So I ask with a big heart, please, you the bossmen of NTM tell us what you think of sending someone to us. Please write and tell us you bossmen, we are waiting and waiting.”

And a letter from Eric Kaisoa:

“I’m writing again for the 7th time to ask if you will come to my village or not…The people are saying that you must come. I’m saying this again. I think you all didn’t get my first 6 letters…The people are truly crying for a missionary and for God’s talk. Plenty of my letters asking for missionaries have been wasted.

“Now I’m asking you to return a letter to me now. In the name of Jesus please return a letter quickly. I just want a missionary. I’m just wasting my money on these pens and paper, they don’t bear fruit. This one must produce the fruit right.”

Eric wrote these letters for ten years, but there were not enough workers to send to his village. As Jesus said, NTM man waiting“the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”

In 2013, missionaries finally answered his plea. When they arrived, their first priority was to visit Eric and let him know his efforts had finally paid off – They were there to tell him and his people God’s talk!

When they reached Eric’s home and spoke with his wife they learned something heartbreaking. Eric had died two years before their visit — without having a chance to hear God’s talk.


This story could be repeated all over Papua New Guinea. “There are many tribes who need missionaries and we don’t have the people to send them,” Macon Hare, with NTM, notes with sadness.

“Jesus said to ‘pray earnestly that the Lord of the Harvest would send out laborers into His harvest.’”


To learn more about NTM’s work in the Asia Pacific region, go here


  1. I hope the missionaries that go down there will teach them the true Gospel–the Gospel that being a Christian is not just about going to heaven when a person dies, but doing the will of God, glorifying him here on earth.

    • You are 100 % right about “doing the will of God”. However, it does not a way to get there. (Think about Jesus’ approach to Nicodemus in John 3. Then his approach to the Samaritan woman in John 4!)

      I suggest you take time and go and share the Good News to one of these tribes. And don’t go for a few weeks or few months. Go and learn their language and culture, and identify with them – and feel with them. And then you’ll be in a better position to know how and what to share about the Good News.

  2. Sounds odd, the first letter the man said that he has often seen people going to church and that the other villages know about Jesus, so why don’t at least ONE of them go into his village and teach..why should someone pay thousands of dollars return fare, to teach one village,?! Why, if he sees them going to church, does he not inquire of them! Do the white missionaries bring food and clothes etc.? This would possibly be the answer.
    I pray he gets saved and that his village hears the Gospel, through their own indigenous people. The founder of Gospel for Asia, rejects overseas missionaries and trains indigenous people to share among their own. No special training is needed, the simplicity of the Gospel is such that a child may share it.

    • No one who knows the Gospel message knows the language of his people. In this country people use the man-made trade language Melanesian Pigin for superficial communication. (The trade language in our country is English.) Communicating abstract concepts like forever, grace, mercy, forgiveness, substitution and eternal life will require someone to learn the language and culture to clearly communicate the Biblical, Christ-centered message. Whenever shortcuts are used in animistic cultures (where manipulation of powers is the key focus) faith is frequently placed in the wrong object. If they miss Jesus, the miss everything! Jesus is the only object of faith who is able to save them from the wrath of a Holy God and clothe them in perfect righteousness. Furthermore, Matt. 28:20 is part of our commission: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. The disciples will need a solid foundation to be able to carry on the ministry long after the missionaries are gone.

  3. Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

    Matt 28:18-20 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    We are ALL called, we need to just go.

  4. Why isn’t NTM raising up and releasing indigenous teachers? If they have thriving churches, enough so that other tribes are hearing about them, then why is there no indigenous to go to neighboring tribes? This is the best way to bring salvation. We don’t need to always send westerners. Pastors, teachers, apostles, evangelists from their own people are the best ones to go. You don’t have to go to bible school to share God’s love and the truth of Christ. It’s a very simple truth. They should be multiplying amongst themselves, not staying within their individual villages.

    • Actually NTM is all about raising up and equipping indigenous teachers. I would love to tell you some of the many stories of what God is doing through people who did not know Jesus at all a decade or two ago! See videos on the NTM web site to catch a glimpse. Also see NTM on vimeo and youTube. In that country alone there are over 800 unique languages (some say as many as 895). We are seeing more and more tribal churches growing to where they can carry on an increasing amount of cross-cultural ministry. Like us, they need discipleship, training and education to accomplish the things that need to be done to bring former enemies to faith and maturity in Christ. At this point Bible translation is the biggest obstacle where they need assistance from trained missionaries.

  5. Why is someone having to write 7 letters with no response from NTM? Yet a whole article is dedicated to letting us know how many letters they received (without responding) that these people need missionaries. Why is NTM not responding to these requests?

    • There are about 100 language groups who have asked for a missionary. We need people who are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to accomplish the work. The missionaries on the field are working hard to do what they can. They need help!!! Will you go?

  6. I am a indigenous missionary and a Bible Translator PNGBTA and Wycliffe Bible Translators. Currently I am living and working with village people of Ambunti District of East Sepik Province. I am very much interested in helping these people. NTM please do contact me; [email protected]

  7. How tragic that he had died!! To be honest my feelings are a bit stronger than that! Here is a man begging for all those years and NOT ONE missionary or believer could be sent to this desperate man and his village…….sorry, I don’t get it……just ONE in the 7 yrs he wrote!!!

  8. The missionaries and NTM would love to go to every tribe, but it is not as simple as it sounds. These letters are written in a broken pidgin language, not the native tongue of the tribe. Each of these villages speak a different languages. It could take years for western missionaries to learn the language of one tribe in order to share the Gospel and get the Bible translated into their language. A neighboring tribe can see them going to church, but there still is a language barrier that may take years, even for the indigenous people, to over come. Linguistics is a difficult task. I pray that the Church will raise up more missionaries, funds and technology to help speed the process of overcoming the language barrier so these people can hear the Good News of Jesus!

  9. May God give grace for people to enter the unreached tribes. I am praying that if god makes a way I will join them and go and spread the word there.

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