Most envision a missionary teaching or studying the Bible at a desk surrounded by resource material with a squeaky fan blowing the bugs out of his face.
But sometimes he sits behind the wheel in a hot car barely moving over broken roads. Trip after trip, he sleeps in tiny hotel rooms with limited electricity, cold showers and sketchy food. Sometimes he shops, in scavenger hunt fashion, searching in four different cities ducking in and out of countless, dark, dusty stores that only stock one or two of the 90 needed items to get all the hardware for the airstrip repairs. (There is no one-stop shopping here!)
Chris traveled over 2796 miles (4500 K) in this ministry month. Not the usual miles racked up in the seat of an airplane. Road miles. The slow and painfully bounced, jerked and slammed to a stop kind of miles. ALL OF THEM. Literally.
The national highway that circles northern Mindanao, the island we serve on, is under major repair. Because it is majorly in disrepair. Heavy rains caused the road bed to wash out from under the asphalt surface causing a ‘peanut brittle’ effect. The road works crew then scoops up this brittle road one lane at a time with a bulldozer that tosses it aside while all the traffic uses the ‘free’ lane. And not in servicable sections like you might imagine. This roadworks project covers the entire national highway!
Actual forward 'speed'
V-e-r-y slowly uses the free lane. It is not at all unusual to sit 2 hours while traffic passes in that lane. Over and over again all along those many miles. Why?
Because the national highway is the only roadway that takes you around the island. Why would Chris do all those miles when the road is such a mess? When the driving and sitting all those hours causes leg and back cramps that wake him in the middle of the night? When he would rest at home just one night to turn around and make the painful trip all over again? FOUR TIMES in THREE WEEKS? Why?
Because it pleases God when missionaries work as a team. We share the privilege to serve Him as part of the New Tribes missionary team here on Mindanao, not just partners in the translation team for the Banwaon.
Chris first made that roundtrip in four days to take me and my two friends to the pick-up point for our road trip into the village by motor bike. Then he supply shopped before he came back to pick us up again. Then he slept one night at home and covered the same painful journey adding a day to pick up our partner to make his motor bike trip into the village to repair our condemned airstrip. Then he returned home to sleep two nights in his own bed only to turn around to do the three day trip again and three days back with the New Tribes Mission Aviation pilot who went in to explain the specific details of the repairs needed on the airstrip. All four of those round trips literally fill the three week time frame.
Supply buying and mobilization was Chris’ part of the teamwork needed to complete the repairs on our airstrip.
God knows just how to plug each of us into the team to suit His purpose and plant a church for His Glory.
A short video clip of Chris traveling a section of the national highway. Praise the Lord, the tires stayed round!