The little family stood bravely on the parched desert sands. Powerful gusts of wind whipped down the riverbed, driving the grey lahar dust from the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo into their eyes. This was to be their new home.
Jomar and Jocelyn Matay, along with their daughter Hadasa, are believers from the Tawbuid tribe. Not long after their marriage, Jomar and Jocelyn moved into the highlands of the Tawbuid territory to plant God’s church among the unreached of their tribe. A few years later, God sent them to a neighboring tribe as missionary trainers, helping a small group of believers grow and mature until they could lead their own church and go as missionaries themselves. Now, in this historic moment, God called the Matay family to be the first Seventh-day Adventist Tawbuid missionaries to reach out to an unreached tribe on a different island in the Philippines.
Two weeks after I left Jomar and his family standing on the grey sands, they completed their precautionary COVID-19 quarantine period and launched to the Aeta tribe that lives in the shadow of Mount Pinatubo. They will work with Philippine Frontier Missions (PFM), partnering with other PFM missionaries, to help train Aeta believers to lead their churches and go out as missionaries just like they did, starting the church planting cycle over again.
As I stood watching Jomar and his family that day, I felt as proud as a new dad. There had been a time when I despaired of the Tawbuid ever accepting the Gospel, let alone sharing it with others. Now, years later, here were my friends following God’s call to take His salvation to distant unreached people groups, just like I had all those years ago.
God’s work had come full circle, and a new generation of missionaries had launched.