note: this was originally written in November 2010
Final approach to Daboto is always an edge-of-your-seat affair. The short shelf of dirt rushes up at me at 75 miles an hour. Clouds on my left block the escape route. I’m committed to land.
Lord, help me not to bend this thing ... especially in front of all these people.
Seems like well over 100 Moi people have converged on the Daboto airstrip this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than 20 here before.
Stepping out of the airplane, I see Rich and Karen walking up the airstrip. Funny, their feet don’t seem to be touching the ground. They are beaming. “What’s with all the people?” I ask.
“God is doing an amazing thing among the Moi!” says Rich with a face-splitting grin.
After years of language learning and preparation, the missionaries among the Moi were finally able to begin their chronological teaching through the Scriptures. They started with the creation story and were moving through the narratives to end up at the resurrection of Christ. People had come from all the far-flung hamlets of the Moi territory, some hiking five days to get there.
The initial plan was to have teaching sessions five days a week. Soon after beginning, though, the Moi insisted that the storying be done six days a week ... and they refused to return to their hamlets to tend their gardens and get food.
The people were literally going hungry so that they could hear the Good News.
On the day I arrived, they were finishing up the teaching of the Law ... and the Moi were profoundly convicted of their sins and convinced that they stood under God’s judgment. They were urgently pushing the process forward so that they could get to the part about the promised Redeemer they kept hearing mentioned in the stories.
“Nate, we’ve got all the people here, and I don’t think any of them understand why you came to them with the others in that first helicopter 10 years ago, and I don’t think they have a clue why you keep coming back here. Would you share your story with them so that they might understand what drives you?” Rich puts me on the spot.
Backtrack to the year 2000. I’m standing in a small clearing in the rainforest, high on a ridge in Moi territory, without another human being in sight. An hour earlier we’d gingerly dropped out of a helicopter onto a knife-edge ridge that a lightning strike and fire had cleared of trees. I’m waiting for my GPS to pick up a satellite fix. The rest of the team has hiked ahead, slowly clearing a path on a compass heading that we hope will someday turn into an airstrip to reach the Moi.
The hairs on the back of my neck rise as I sense that I am not alone.
I turn to find that a Moi man has crept up behind me without me ever hearing the slightest snap of a twig. I am the first outsider, the first white man Piato has ever seen. Now as I stand at the top of the Daboto airstrip, in a crowd of Moi, I turn and find, once again, that Piato is standing right behind me. I put my arm around this warrior, and my heart begins to speak while Rich translates into Moi.
“Some of you have murdered.” An image of Piato finishing off one of his wives with an axe flashes across my mind. “I have not killed. But I have hated others in my heart, and the Redeemer has said that I am guilty of murder—I lacked only the axe.”
One murderer embracing another, I continued.
“My heart was black, and I stood under the judgment of the Creator. But I have met the Redeemer, and He has paid my penalty for murder and washed my heart clean. This is why I have come. This is why I keep coming back. So that you also may meet this Redeemer and have Him carry off your sins ... that you may walk with Him in the light.”
I released Piato and picked up a tiny little boy at my feet, buck naked. Made in the image of the living God.
“I have come also because I have a dream that this little boy will be part of the first generation of Moi to grow up in the light, free from the constant fear and oppression of the evil spirits. The Redeemer will give you victory over the evil spirits. Please, listen to the stories and follow the Redeemer when you meet Him.”
Praise the Lord. The word we continue to hear out of Daboto is that the vast majority of the Moi are embracing Jesus and breaking free from bondage to evil spirits. The Light has come!
Watch testimonies of Moi people who committed their lives to Christ as a result of these teaching sessions. (Filmed by missionaries from New Tribes Mission, which helps plant churches among unreached people groups.)
Read more about the first contact with the Moi in "Getting There" ( Rev. 7, Spring 2006, pages 4–6).