What is one area that you want to dedicate your life to? For Bonard and May Whatley, one thing is certain – to see the Lauje tribe from Indonesia saved.
They certainly have the passion to see the Lauje Tribe saved, one of the many tribal groups in Indonesia. Together with their partners, Barrie and Cherri Williamson, they have been working with the Lauje tribe for the last 30 years. About 500 of the tribal people give their lives to Jesus and are baptized. There are about 10,000 Laujes, as Bonard adds, “There are probably about 1,000 to 2,000 who have heard the gospel. We teach them how to read and write, and when they are saved, they in turn bring the Word to their own people and see them saved too. There are about 40 leaders who carry the responsibility to share and teach the gospel, and the church is growing and multiplying since.”
What gives this missionary couple the breakthrough in winning the Lauje people? “Setting them free from fear”, according to Bonard, causes the people to give their lives to Jesus. Bonard adds, “As spiritism and animism are their common practice, they are bounded by fear of spirits that would harm them. They are fearful of death, fearing breaking taboos, and frightened of not performing rituals. They claim that they heard noises of motor-cycle near the river (although there are no trails where a motor-cycle could go), and other phenomena they attributed to spirits.” According to the couple, when they and the Williamsons move into the area, the claims of the phenomena stopped.
May says, “One of the witch-doctors exclaims that since we and the Williamsons have moved in, many spirits have fled, and when they hear the Word of God, they believed and are wonderfully set free from their fears.”
“We begin to tell them about God and how He is the creator of everything in this world. We feed them with the Word of God on a consistent basis, and one day, as I teach about Jesus’ crucifixion, one of them, whose name is Satu Kali, (meaning one time) jumped up and said, ‘For sure all my sins are on that cross.’ He heard the gospel for the first time and believed. After that, one by one begins to believe in Jesus and get saved too. There are now pockets of believers scattered throughout the mountains.”
“The biggest reward we can give to another is to bring them to Jesus, and one day when we meet them in heaven, they can thank us.” This is what missionary work is all about. Bonard and May prove it that to reach the unreached is attainable and it can be done. May adds, “It is a thrill to see this tribal group coming to know the Lord, and our time here is certainly worth it.”
Bonard continues, “The greatest satisfaction is to see the tribe set free from fear, and are now happy to know the Lord, smiling and not afraid anymore. It is a joy to see them praising the Lord and loving Him.” May adds, “I have always wanted to be a missionary, and it is a wonderful privilege to be able to bring the gospel to the Lauje people. I want to impact their lives for Jesus and seeing them loving Jesus.”
The world is still unreached, the tribal ministry is hard and the task enormous, yet Bonard and May can demonstrate that through the power of our Lord, tribal people can be set free. May says, “The people keep saying that where would they be if we haven’t gone to them.” This is the testimony of the needs of the harvest, where people are hungry to know and receive the Lord. Would you go if only they can hear?