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Just Look at How God Works!

May 26, 2022

Case Study: Home Groups for the Wayana people of Suriname

If you’ve been on the Bible Bus for a while, you’ve likely prayed for our Home Groups. This movement of the gospel being spread, house to house, is happening in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and North Africa as people listen to THRU the BIBLE in their own heart languages.

Recently we were surprised to hear how God is using the Home Groups somewhere we never would’ve imagined.

To tell this story, we have to start in 1956 when the shocking news of five missionaries, led by Jim Elliot and Nate Saint, were murdered in Ecuador by the people they were hoping to reach with the gospel. Surprisingly, the news rallied many godly young men and women to go to the mission field.

Ivan Schoen read the headlines in the New York Times on his lunchbreak on a construction site. He read the article, closed the paper, found his boss, and said, “I’m quitting; I'm going to be a missionary in Latin America.”

Ivan, his wife Doris, and their three children arrived in Suriname several years later. They set up camp along a river emerging from a jungle, lived in a tent, and made contact with the Wayana people, believed to be a fierce tribe. For many days the Wayana studied the Schoens from their hideouts. Eventually, first contact was made. Over time, Ivan made friends with the tribal chief, the shamans, and others from the tribe. He learned their language. He learned about their beliefs in evil spirits and the creator spirit. Eventually Ivan was able to share about the great Spirit, Jesus, and His gift to the world.

Many amazing things happened … which you can hear about in this great video. As people came to Christ, they began to translate the Bible into Wayana. The New Testament was completed in the late 1960’s. But only recently was the complete Bible available and bound into a book and presented to the tribal chief, now a very old man. Because of the pandemic, Ivan and Doris watched the presentation via Zoom last year.

This is where THRU the BIBLE enters the story. Tom Schoen, Ivan and Doris’ son, is working again with the people he grew up with in Suriname, now as a missionary with TWR, one of THRU the BIBLE’s most trusted ministry partners. As Tom and local Wayana church leaders face the challenges of discipleship in a new era of ministry, they need new solutions. The Wayana young people are moving farther into the jungle to avoid the urban development brought on by mining. So as the Wayana church leaders and TWR missionaries prayed about it, they considered establishing a radio ministry to reach their people in the jungle. Then, an idea: What about using THRU the BIBLE’s Home Group model they’d heard had launched in India? Yes, this might work. Let’s try it, they said.

Only God could orchestrate a connection like this. We’re excited to follow these new Home Groups meeting in Suriname. When we answer the question, “What’s new at THRU the BIBLE?” really, the question should be “What is God doing that is new?”

We couldn’t make these things up if we tried. Please pray for this beginning ministry to the Wayana people. This is just another way we are together taking God’s whole Word to the whole world.