I need to set up a little background before I get to the meat of this post:
Some years ago I was asked to lead our church’s missions program. We were a new church, so this was a start-up program. As Director of Missions I had the privilege of being the first-line of communication between the church and the missionaries we supported.
One of the most remarkable ministries we supported was the Dawson Family. Joe (now with the Lord) and his wife Millie (still serving in Venezuela), went into the Venezuelan jungles sixty years ago . . .; there they stayed, ministering to the Yanomamö Indians.
They made the move into the jungle with three little children and one in the oven, their singular faith shining brilliantly. Over the years the Dawson clan increased to ten children—some still minister in the jungle, some work in support in the states.
The Yanomamö Indians were very much animistic[i] spiritually when Joe and Millie originally went into the jungle. That has greatly been diminished due to the faithful service of the Dawson family and many have come to Christ.
The Dawson’s, now ministering under the nom de guerre of Mission Padamo Aviation, are led chiefly by the Joe’s two older sons, Gary and Mike Dawson and their wives. Keep in mind they are ministering in hostile environs. They live in a remote jungle outpost in Amazonia and they minister and live in Venezuela, a country with a government hostile to Christ, the Gospel, and their ministry.
Having lain some underpinning the following e-mail I just received from Mike will have some context for understanding. It is also a reminder to us all of the constant threat of the urgency of the inconsequential. I thought it might be instructive for us all.
Dear Praying Friends,
Missionary work sometimes is hectic and worrisome. Some days it seems I don’t know if I am coming or going. Today was one of those days. Our daily prayer and Bible study went well and I was followed home by the usual gaggle of men wanting some extra attention for what ever little problem was bothering them. Most mornings I can take it without it bothering me, but today, I had a lot of things I wanted to get finished, not the least of which is an annual report which I have not finished yet.
As I was walking into the house, a young man named Wilson asked me if he could talk to me. He is Herminia’s nephew. Distracted by another man and his wife, I told the guy, yes, but asked him to give me a few minutes. I took care of the guy with his wife and before I could catch my breath, two of the older men in the village, whom we have been talking to and trying to help them over their anger with Jaime came in and demanded time to talk. I flagged Gary over and we set down with them. I remembered the young man I had asked to wait, but figured that the two old guys were more important…
We no sooner finished with them when the witchdoctor we had visited and talked with last week came in with some other men from his village and asked if we could talk with them. I was actually on my way to get the young man, but decided to take care of the witchdoctor first, so Gary and I set [sic] back down to see what they wanted. They wanted to make sure we had not forgotten our invitation to their village next week. We assured them we had not. Now, this sounds pretty straight forward, but it took about 45 minutes to get that all down pat. I kept looking at my watch as I could not get the young man out of my mind and was afraid he would just leave. But they finally took their leave.
I walked out and called Wilson. He came in and shyly set down. With downcast eyes, he began his story. “The demons are really bothering me. I did not sleep at all last night” [remember the Yanomamö are religious animists, the spiritual world is known and evident to them]. Well, this was more interesting than I thought it was going to be, I figured he was going to ask for some job, or a machete.
He went on. I told God, “I am afraid to talk to you out loud, but hear me in my heart. Help me! God if you will help me tonight I will go and talk to Gary and Mike in the morning.”
“I really need help!” he told us.
We went over the gospel story with him and bowed our heads as he prayed asking God to make him HIS own and to clean his heart out with the new birth. He told God of all the problems he was having with the demons and asked God for HIS protection. He thanked Jesus for dying in his place. When he was finished, Gary and I each prayed for him and thanked God for saving power.
After we were finished I could not help but think about how close I had come to not have the time for him this morning. “Oh God,” I prayed, “Please help us to always be sensitive to your prodding and to have YOUR heart when it comes to what is important and what is not.” We rejoiced with Wilson today as I am sure the angels rejoiced in heaven! Rejoice with us!
Still have not finished my annual report…
Thanks for your partnership with us! God is Good!
Michael and Keila Dawson
A closing request to my Christian brothers and sisters– Perhaps you would put the Dawson family, Mission Padoma Aviation on your prayer lists.
[i] Animism is the religion that interprets what happens in the temporal world by the spiritual forces; personal and impersonal. Objects have spiritual significance and events are believed to have spiritual causes.